As most of you are aware I don't know a gosh darn thing about sports - almost never going outside when you are a kid tends to do that to people.
That doesn't mean however I don't enjoy a good sports movie - I did mention I like snacks I hope - and when I got thinking about how to love your customers the right way I remembered For Love of the Game.
Quick summary: Baseball movie (that's the game with the good hot dogs) with old guy (Kevin Costner) who loves a woman but wants to pitch a perfect game before he retires - and he eventually comes to realize even when he had a perfect game the love was all that truly mattered. Roll credits.
This reminds me a lot of what is happening today with websites.
Some folks understand customer love and some don't.
I think this is the difference between an inbound faker and an inbound marketing success maker.
So let's back up a couple of steps here, shall we?
If you have no idea what Inbound Marketing is - aka the new hotness - it is the basic idea that instead of sending ads to customers they will come find you (arrive in an inbound fashion) if you put content on the web which really helps them and solves problems.
This actually reflects an inevitable reality for the web - the world's biggest walking talking encyclopedia - for the geeks in the room you might say Huspot style nurturing and inbound goodness is what had to happen after usenet. It only took a few decades, no worries. :-)
So then we begin the process of making all this stuff - blog posts, emails, videos, webinars, downloadable whitepapers, and so on.
And every once in a while some profoundly ignorant jerk says: We're here to put dollars in the cash register, without sales none of this crap matters anyway.
Ummm - no. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
See my friend Seth Godin's definition of the two ways people think of customer love for the right perspective:
- We love our customers because they pay us money. (Inherent here is customers = money = love.)
- We love our customers, and sometimes there's a transaction.
It takes courage to do the second one. I know that and so do you.
But here is the interesting thing - if you don't courageously love your customers your inbound efforts are doomed to failure.
If you demand every single piece of content directly correlates to sales generation today you might think that is a smart idea - but you just killed the golden goose. Your customers will be able to tell you don't really love them, you love their money. The age of being able to fool people - outbound marketing - is over.
Then comes the doubts, the problems, the lack of sales - and so on.
Courage is required.
Recently I had a web professional reach out to me with a PCI Compliance problem - they had a client that was having some issues with their shopping cart and making sure Visa was not pissed at them.
Several folks had tried to fix the problem and failed - but it sounded pretty simple to me.
Now this was no titan of web professionals and this site was small - but they were a classic wonderful Maine company with a very nice story. Sweet people.
I work really hard and I like to think I am very good at what I do - but my services are not cheap. These folks knew that and were nervous. They did the classic dancing between 'since we have no choice I guess we'll pay if we have to, but...'
And so I said let's talk. Maybe I don't need to charge you a thing, information yearns to live free. I truly want to help people, no problem. I can't work all day for free but I'll talk to anybody.
And we did - the problem got solved in approximately 15 minutes. Happy web professional. Happy web site owner. Nice thanks so much emails. Roll credits.
I didn't get paid a dime - they offered but I said no - and it made me feel really good to help someone.
But here is the thing - I spent last fall in bed while my spine healed. I am absolutely aggressively seeking customers right now, you betcha. Suppose I had seen all this through that perspective? Suppose I had taken money for simply sharing what is really not that big a deal (very specilized knowledge yes but no big whoop) ?
They - and every other customer / prospect of mine - would know it.
Do you love their money or do you love them?
Now all of the notions of how they will tell two friends about me, and they'll tell two frineds, and so on, and I will feel like I am part of a shampoo commercial apply here of course - but that is not really the point. If I was helping people with an intention to make that happen they would know it.
Love your customers, and sometimes there will be a transaction - very sage wisdom from Mr Seth Godin right there.
Here's the bottom line for Internet Entrepreneurs: You need to love your customers the right way. You will be tested. Please have courage.
In the meantime feel free to eat delicious hot dogs every time you watch a baseball movie.
Happy Friday Everyone. :-)