With the advent of the Internet the world is certainly getting smaller, but before you spend thousands of dollars on advertising or dedicating resources to Search Engine Optimization (“SEO”), you can start your marketing strategy with one person.
One person has the potential to reach a network of thousands. Is this really possible?
Guglielmo Marconi came up with one hypothesis. The Noble Prize winner who broke down barriers of communication with his radiotelegraph invention also pioneered the theory of Six Degrees of Separation, which suggested that every person on the earth can be connected though a chain of only six people.
An idealistic notion, but not one that can be easily managed in networking terms. It’s easier to start with who you know—your success circle.
A success circle immediately outlines who you can reach to promote your business and this starts with your social network. Tell your friends about your new business, tell your family, and get them to tell others. If you can think of 40 friends and 20 family members, you already have 60 people who know about your business. Then if your friends and family tell another 60 people each, you are already looking at an additional 3600 and the figures inflate as the circles expand.
Of course, success circles intercept too, as many of your friends and family do know one another, but you see the basic principle… Start with who you know.
When your friends and family promote your business directly, and their outlying networks do the same, this is known as an active referral or word-of-mouth, the ideal way to network your product. When they offer the information if asked, this is known as a passive referral. We would certainly ask our friends to recommend a local electrician or plumber if needed.
As an example, a garden designer starting out on his own will initially be offered by work by people he knows, who will then recommend him to others in their circles and his outreach and business expands.
Another huge factor in promoting business sales is the Law of Influence, established by Dr. Robert Cialdini, social psychologist and author of the best-selling book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.
Dr. Cialdini determined six principles of influence, which need to be considered when you want to persuade your customers to buy from you.
Describing them as weapons, Cialdini’s six laws of influence are…
- Reciprocity – This law of influence maintains our need to feel reciprocate, or give back what we have received from another. Businessmen may offer one another leads or business openings in return of a similar favor they were provided with. In social circles, if one friend takes you out to dinner, you are obliged to return the favor. This law also applies when a person is refused something, or you are making an apology; you give back as a way of saying sorry.
- Commitment and Consistency – When you sign a contract, commit to a verbal agreement, or simply pick up an item to purchase in a store, you continue to honor the agreement and see it through. Sometimes the terms of the contract may change, there may be additional extras for the buyer or the seller, but the need to be consistent with the contract continues.
- Social Proof – A classic case of keeping up with the Jones’. If everyone has an iPod then I need one as well. This law of influence highlights the need to conform. The greater the number of people that share one idea or action only verifies it as correct, the right thing to do. (Although I personally do not count myself to these sort of humans, the mass does.)
- Authority – You may not believe what your friends and family tell you, but when the same statement comes from a legitimate authority, you will take notice. No one believed smoking could be that bad for you until the Surgeon General placed notices on cigarette packages. Coming from a respected authority, people will listen. A person in authority works hard to attain their status and therefore, in theory, can be trusted.
- Liking – If you were given the choice of two salesmen to buy from, would you buy from the rude, obnoxious salesman that could barely crack a smile, or would you buy from the friendlier chatty salesman? Physical attractiveness also plays a role here. This law of influence shows that a smart appearance and building a rapport is essential: smile, be friendly to your customers and make sure it’s genuine.
- Scarcity – If an item appears limited, it increases demand. When a store has a closing down sale, the customers come from nowhere, even if they have never purchased there before. And on a greater scale, if supplies of food appeared threatened people would panic to buy. Good businessmen know how to use this law of influence to their advantage, with limited edition products and promotions.
There you have it. My hope is you take advantage of your own success circles and the Law of Influence. It makes building and maintaining your Internet business a bit easier.