In this last of three parts, I demonstrate how even small businesses can entangle their customers in a mutually beneficial web.
You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step. – Martin Luther King, Jr.
|Read Part I||Read Part II|
Sebastian Jespersen and Stan Rapp authored a book titled Release the Power of Entangled Marketing™. I introduced you to them in Part I of this series. They show us the interconnected framework by which brands are becoming entangled in their customers’ daily lives. In Part II, I added my own spiritual bent while I highlighted some of the companies they hold up as definitive examples. In this installment I’m going to apply the concept to my own marketing practice where most of my clients are small to medium-sized businesses that lack the resources of the digital behemoths. One-person shops and established mid-range companies can entangle their customers. Some may require adjustments to their business models.
WE’RE IN VIOLENT AGREEMENT • I lit up when I first saw the title of this book. It gave a name to an idea I’d been germinating for years. Many small businesses reach out to me in distress thinking I can make it rain instantly through social media. They think that I can somehow create a flash mob of customers who will show up at their door waving money in their faces. Not so.
Social media campaigns are about building a relationship with the customer. That takes time. That relationship yields a sale in relatively few cases. The number of times your brand is in front of the customer in whatever form through whatever channel is important. Volume is key. It can be expensive. Social media can play a role in entanglement, just not the role.
The frequency with which users interact with social media content through clicks, shares, links and likes is called the engagement. We have endless tools to analyze engagement. I can set up a website-Facebook-Twitter campaign for a client. I can tell them how many visitors they’re getting, how many likes and how many followers. I can’t offer a reliable number of how engagement should translate into dollars. It takes at least a year in most cases to determine if the engagement is justifying the cost. Getting people to actually buy things through social media engagement is difficult.
But entanglement takes us past engagement using enticement and inducement. I know that seems like mere wordplay. Entanglement involves the customer in a more active exchange. It entices the customer to interact in an almost subconscious way. By giving the customer something they want other than your good or service, you can entice them into wanting your good or service. You pull them into your web.
The concept of exchange is fundamental to entanglement. You must entice the customer with something that induces them to make a purchase without thinking that they’ve been sold something. Give them entertainment or information or intimacy or camaraderie. Once you’ve enticed them, offer your good or service in an accessible, relevant way. Then induce them to buy in an almost reflexive way. Entanglement happens when this entice-induce cycle becomes part of customers’ unconscious routines. It weaves itself into the fabric of their lives.
As Jespersen and Rapp point out, over time the brand becomes many things to many people. Quantum entanglement dictates that subatomic particles can be multiple things in multiple places at the same time. They use this analogy to show how Amazon has become both a global retailer and an entertainment conglomerate. Two disparate industries coexisting under one brand. Talk about diversification! No one even thinks twice about it.
Apple entices us with the iPhone, then induces a sale with the app, over and over and over again. They’ve given us something we want – instant communication in the palm of our hands – in exchange for our habitual purchasing habits. Entanglement.
HOW CAN SMALLER BUSINESSES ACHIEVE ENTANGLEMENT? • There’s one business model that lends itself particularly well to entanglement which we can draw on for inspiration: your local bar.
Let’s say Joe buys a bar in your neighborhood. He starts by offering only a few types of beer at a reasonable price in a pleasant atmosphere. But he only has a few regular customers who are only having a few quick ones on their way home from work. He needs more customers. How does he get them? Offering more beers likely won’t do it. Offering higher quality beers likely won’t do it either. But offering something else entirely, like entertainment, likely will do it. So he offers live music for free.
The place starts filling up. People are staying longer. They’re spending more money. He’s enticed them. Now he can induce them to buy something else simply by putting it in front of them: food. Now it’s a hangout. People are meeting each other there. They’re exchanging business cards. They’re going on dates. Joe’s Bar is becoming multiple things to multiple people at the same time. It’s a place to unwind, to eat, to hear music and to connect.
Now he’s got them. It’s easy for him to add enticements and inducements: keno, arcade games, televised sports, a single-malt scotch menu, a wine cellar, etc. When locals say, “Let’s go get a beer,” no one even asks, “Where?” It’s just assumed they’re going to Joe’s Bar & Grill & Entertainment Emporium.
LOOK AT YOUR OWN BUSINESS MODEL • Where do you have opportunities to entice and induce? You may have to adjust your offering to accommodate entanglement. Let’s say you sell hammers and only hammers. Hammers don’t really lend themselves to entanglement. Once people buy one they don’t need another one unless they break or lose it. But let’s say you start making nails. Nails are a consumable. They lend themselves much better to entanglement because people who use hammers constantly need nails.
How can we entice our nail customers? Let’s try offering woodworking plans for free. Let’s even build a woodworking app that connects to a social network for woodworkers where they can upload their own plans. Let’s hold a competition where users can vote on their favorite plans. Now let’s induce them by putting a button in the app with a call-to-action, “Click here to get the nails to build this project”.
As we entangle our nail buyers, we offer them more enticements with more inducements: encouragement, design advice, carpentry tips, other tools, other materials, finished products, etc.
This should look very familiar to you because most of us are engaged in these models every day. Many of us don’t know or don’t think to create entanglement with our own businesses. It’s no longer the bastion of the very large or the very clever. It’s becoming the way the world works. We’re all breathing the same digital air.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this series. Feel free to leave a comment. I’d love to hear your ideas. Let me know if I’ve sparked your imagination.
Thanks so much for taking the time to delve into Entangled Marketing™ with me.