When Internet marketing began, it seemed to rush towards one mindset: "buy now." Lots of marketers spend lots of time pushing people toward that end. Buy, buy, buy. They measure sites by conversions (which makes sense, of course), but that's like measuring a relationship in kisses only. With the advent of social networks and social media, the real opportunity is shifting our mindset from "buy now" to "friend now," and I'll explain why.
Buying is an event
If I need to get my guitar repaired, that's a single event. But I'm going to have that guitar for years, and I might need a new one. Would you rather push me to buy a repair, or would you rather get me to friend you on Facebook and start a relationship? That guitar might get old. I might want to buy another, but I might not need that the moment I find your site. If all you sell me is "buy now," I'm likely to wander off because I don't need that service at that time.
Friending needs backup
OK, so maybe I sold you on friending someone on a social network. The risk is this: if that network goes away, you've got nothing. The goal, then, is to friend them in a few places, and maybe also ask for their e-mail address. You might have heard that e-mail is dead. Ninety-three percent of people have an opt-in relationship daily with brands (versus 15 percent on Facebook and 4 percent on Twitter). I say e-mail is alive. I also say that having a relationship with someone that includes not only a connection in a social network, but an e-mail address also is the first step towards having gold.
Friending isn't your green light to selling. It's your opportunity to get to know your prospective new connection. It's a chance to make that relationship spread into a potential referral. Remember, selling to one person is one thing. Selling to that person's connections gives you even more opportunities. The selling comes, but it comes after connecting and being of value. It comes after showing that you want the relationship more than the sale.
The opportunity to build a business in this way is what the social Web has built. Before now, the only option was to build a "buy now" experience. And though a well-crafted sales page is very important to a business seeking to do work online, it's even more important to build social connection points into your website, into your methods and into the way you sell. Sell your people on friending before the buy. It's worth money.