Is there lead generation in that conversation?
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Lets imagine that you sell a product. It can be any product that has a mid to high level of involvement. It’s not a pack of gum (though perhaps it could be, but lets not get ahead of ourselves here).
Because the product has a highish involvement purchase cycle, you watch the social web to find people talking about buying your product (or hire an agency to do it). If people have to think about the purchase decision, they are out there sharing their thoughts.
Maybe on a blog post someone says:
“My wife and I are thinking about buying a [product]. We’re looking at [company] and [company].”
Your company is the second one, and they’re thinking about you. You know they’re thinking about you because you’re doing daily Technorati searches, and you have Google alerts, and Yahoo alerts, and Tweetscan, and a myriad of other tools at your disposal to sift through the social web looking for things just like this.
So now what? Should you leave a comment on their blog? Should it be direct:
“Hi, I’m Dave from [company]. Our product is $X.XX. and available here.”
Would this work? Forget that people might be creeped out about a company contacting them. If they have a blog, then they know about online monitoring. So they know it’s easy to be contacted. In fact, they might even be savvy enough to know that company name dropping will get a response. But they might not respond to being pitched. Because the blogger known where to go and buy your stuff.
So it would be way smarter to be less direct. More conversational.
“Hi, I’m Dave [links to company] Thanks for considering our product. If you have any questions, contact me.”
That’s a conversation, not a conversion. That blogger might never buy the stuff, but they might also amplify the company because of the conversation. The action was correct for the social web using the right grammar.
So perhaps the answer really is the most simple. If someone talks about your product, don’t think of them as much as a lead, think of them as someone to talk with. And that’s a hard thing to think. Because someone sitting at a computer thinking about your product just needs to be nudged into the sale, right?
Well consider. Imagine you’re walking through a mall, and you walk into a store. That action could be interpreted as purchase interest. So if salesperson came running up and began asking for the order, that’s the correct way to act in the situation, right?
Of course not. The correct way is to ask if they need help and remind the shopper that you’re there for them if needed. That’s the right off-line social grammar. It’s not a stretch to take it online.
Because the right social grammar could lead to a sale.
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