Use “Ethical Bribes” To Acquire New Customers

Last week I opened the discussion on how to integrate social media with traditional marketing by not integrating it at all — yet still get more out of marketing strategies as a whole.  I’m back with a case study to prove that all media is social media — and how realizing this frees our minds and bodies to fire on all pistons.  To act.  To improve our Web marketing output.  To reliably produce more results and fatten our paychecks.

The story I’ll tell involves a marketer becoming a full-fledged, content-focused email publisher to the masses — people this marketer knew would not be customers in the near future.  The bet was they would eventually buy.  All that was needed was to keep them engaged long enough to earn consideration.  And prospects did convert when the guy who hatched the idea mixed direct calls-to-action into his “content marketing” fold.

So, through this short story, let’s learn how to:

  • Acquire new customers with “ethical bribes”
  • Use content and a publishing model to net sales you’d otherwise not get – and make a profit
  • Grow your e-mail prospect list organically
  • Generate incremental Web sales
  • Take what you already know works and apply it to make social media pay dividends

Acquiring new customers with “ethical bribes”

Marketing ploys, gimmicks, value propositions.  Whatever you call them.  They’ve worked for decades and still work today.  But we often forget this when working in the world of digital marketing.  And that’s a mistake.

I study, lecture and write a lot about using the concepts of relevancy and utility to capture customers’ need states and deliver value that boosts profit.  (lately using examples of mobile and social media in banking)  And I keep re-discovering the fact — in my experience and what I’m learning from others.  Classic “old school” marketing techniques work very well in new, emerging (“social”) marketing realms.

The reasons people buy more, more often and from the same brand aren’t new.  What is new?  Discovering ways to nurture latent demand and capture it using the Internet.  Using the opportunity to interact — not just listen and continue spewing out crafty messages.  To interact in an organized way.  That’s the challenge.

If this sounds familiar it should.  By gosh, I’m writing these words at ReveNews, where affiliate marketing has been part of the game for over a decade.  And if anyone can appreciate leveraging old tricks in new realms it’s affiliates.

So how about acquiring brand spanking new customers with email?

As promised, I’ll now discuss a fascinating case study from Eastern Europe.  This good example of what I’ll prove to be “social media marketing” demonstrates how one large multi-channel marketer is creating Web buyers out of thin air.  And that’s not hyperbole.

This retailer is nurturing leads over many months’ time and cost-effectively netting sales from buyers they’d otherwise never have had a chance at acquiring.  Incremental sales.  They’re using what I’ll call “ethical bribes” to get the job done.

What’s the candy?   Content.

Marketers are publishers… but…

Break-away success demands that we publish.  But please be clear:  the Web marketing community is filled with advice on using content to create profits.  From sleazy, short-term focused “article marketing” to search engine optimization (SEO).  And lately many experts are encouraging a “content marketing” to create buzz, engagement, conversation or consideration.  No-no.  This isn’t what I’m talking about today.

Publishing is a familiar concept but not to most marketers.  True publishing is quite different.  Yet trailblazers are investing real dollars in publishing models and marrying them with direct response concepts.  And that’s what, historically, works on the Web.  It’s a true blending of “old meets new” with an interactive twist.

The most successful businesses are realizing that consumers use everything from “Web 1.0” tools like email to instant messaging and everything in between — “socially.”  And everything digital — not just shiny new “social media” — is social.  Social media leadership largely requires appreciation of, and acting on, traditional direct response concepts.  Not “branding” but direct response.

Double your fun

This story isn’t just about growing sales through profitable use of email (a social marketing tool).  It’s also about how to grow sales organically.

My case study from across the pond involves an old-fashioned direct TV marketer publishing — sharing valuable stories, tips and tricks.  But publishing in ways that give prospective customers, themselves, reason to recruit new readers (prospects) into the system.  “Viral.”

Indeed, providing customers and prospects with an incentive to market for the company itself… to grow their prospect list organically. The ethical bribes I refer to.  Ready?

Hardcore soft selling

Here’s a guy who’s hardcore when it comes to soft selling. Meet Rok Hrastnik, International Web Director for Direct TV (“home shopping” — we call them “infomercials” in the US) Goliath, Studio Moderna.  Think of them as the Guthie Renker of Eastern Europe.

One day Rok got tired of watching his home goods-focused Web sales just puttering along or, for some brands, dwindling. Competitors were intercepting his customers (as they were on way to making a purchase) by using search ads. Pretty commonplace.

Hrastnik’s boss also tasked him with generating incremental sales, not just leeching sales generated by all the TV ads the company runs throughout Europe.  That wasn’t allowed.  Can you imagine?  “Go sell mattresses on the web from scratch.”  Ugh!  Those are challenging marching orders.

After suffering through poor readership and sales from his email “newsletters” (email messages talking endlessly about his product) Hrastnik decided to take a risk.  But a calculated one.

His response was nothing short of becoming a full-fledged, content-focused email publisher to the masses — people who he knew would not be customers in near-term.  And Hrastnik’s bet paid off.  Sure enough, his readers began to buy his mattresses, bedding and sleep-related home goods when he mixed direct calls-to-action into his content marketing fold.

How did he do it — exactly?  Stay tuned for all of his secrets revealed.  The guy is gutsy.

Put integration on the back-burner

Until I return, consider this:  a “long-form content” focused company (a direct TV seller) has some serious best practices already developed.  They do informercials and that’s a mature business.  They know how to sell and sell lots.  But the challenge isn’t so much to integrate the Web-side with the traditional business.

Remember, for Hrastnik (and likely your business) success is defined in incremental sales.  You know, being able to eat tomorrow!  Right?

And information doesn’t just create sales.  Look at infomercials: tons of information, but what makes them work?  Simple calls to action — something that “social media” gurus claim is a no-no.  Sorry, gurus but you’re busted.

Perhaps like your business, Hrastnik’s company lives mostly in world where marketing is already going on.  His world is a TV-based world where selling takes 30 minutes.   Think about that for a minute.  Talk about opportunities for customers to tune out!  So transferring to the Web isn’t like eating cake.  You can’t just throw up informercial videos on the Web or scatter them across YouTube and call it a day.  Incremental sales takes work — more work than just providing information.

Here’s my point: Hrastnik’s business (in fact, all “infomercial” businesses) has mastered the TV-delivered, content-focused sale.  And while they’ve been quick to throw up Web sites and point TV shoppers at them what about creating incremental sales using the Web — using tools already available?  That’s the real opportunity.  Right?  That’s the challenge.  And that’s where Hrastnik hit it out of the park.

Stay tuned!

About Jeff Molander

Jeff Molander is the authority on making social media sell and corporate trainer to small businesses and global corporations like IBM and Brazil’s energy company, Petrobras. He’s an accomplished entrepreneur, having co-founded what is today the Google Affiliate Network. He’s adjunct digital marketing professor at Loyola University’s school of business and author of Off the Hook Marketing: How to Make Social Media Sell for You.


Blog: Off the Hook Blog


You can find Jeff on Twitter @jeffreymolander.

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