How To Sell (Not Fast) In Social Media and Grow Your Customer Base

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There are two ways to sell and three paths leading up to both.

There’s the immediate sale and there’s the belabored sale.

Only online connected sales can be immediate. The belabored sales require driving somewhere, dialing some number, finding stuff in an isle, waiting in line or on hold. Connected sales can happen immediately at the office or on a smartwatch while jogging.

All three paths leading up to the sale must create desire and comfort in order to drive that sale. Without desire, she’ll say,”you’ll make somebody a very happy wife some day.” Without comfort, he’ll say, “ummm, I’ll just ask her out the next time I see her.” When you have both, you say, “Hi. Nice shoes. But are they comfortable? I love long walks too.”

The three paths are owned attention, borrowed attention, andrented attention. Rented attention says, “glad you made it tothe party! Don’t spill anything because me and my buddies barelyput together enough money for the cleaning deposit.” Borrowed attention says, “Welcome! don’t spill anything. My parents will kill me!” Owned attention says, “Welcome! I just Scotch Guarded everything so have a blast!”

Most companies rent attention. The benefit of renting attentionis that you can rent precise targetting of your message and youcan have it fast. The downside is that whether it’s overt or it’s implicit, you’re bidding against the most vested biggest wallets for that reach. With Google adwords, you’re overtly bidding overtly. With display ads, you’re paying market price. We both know that nobody likes when the Sea Bass is priced atM.P.

Renting attention is the most expensive way to get attention.And it favors companies that are the most entrenched in a sector, have the largest budgets, and have the longest ROI runway. This is what we mean. An common cost per click through to your website for a typical CPG or FMCG is $2.50. Profit peritem sold might be $0.25. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that all you have to do is make 10 sales and ‘everything afterthat is gravy.’ Typical CT to sales conversion rate is 200 to 1.That means you’ll have to pay $2.50 times 10 times 200. That’s $5,000 to get one person do buy your energy drink. Let’s say your marketing is 500% more effective than the average. You’re still paying $1,000 to earn one sale. That’s just in Google adwords. Advertising in some blog network is even worse. Advertising on print and TV is often beyond worse.

You see why rented attention favors the most entrenched deepest pockets with longest runways? Over the life time of the customer, the value of that first sale has to yield hundreds more sales for that $1,000 to $5,000 advertising investment to pay off.

By some metrics, as much as 70% of major consumer brands onlyhave a ‘rented attention’ based marketing strategy. You can’tblame them. They’ve been entrenched for decades.

What if your company or business unit doesn’t have a ‘3 cushy year runway’ to turn a profit? Innovative and forward thinking companies started investing in building their social media audience since Myspace. By now, they have hundreds of thousandsof customers they can reach over Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Google+, and dozens of other social media services that dominate regional attention like Weibo, Naver, Orkut. They are borrowing their attention from open internet platforms.

And they can reach all their friends, fans, likers, subscribers, members, followers, circlers, etc for free. But it’s still borrowed attention. When Facebook decided their users should only see your company’spost if their closest friends weren’t online, you could shootout 10 posts and maybe only get one of them to show up on a “Liker’s” news stream. You remember when you threw your greatest rager and your parents came home early? Yep. Borrowed.

Same story applies to Twitter as they struggle to find amonetization strategy that impresses Wall Street. They can change how your posts reach your followers on a whim. Or governments like Turkey and Thailand can just decree an all out ban. This also goes for Google+ since Google pulled all of theengineers and developers off Google+ to build other properties.


So how does one become an attention owner?

Well, when’s the last time you Googled for a new iPhone app? Google is a far more democratic and accurate judge of quality apps but nobody Googles for app developer in San Diego discovery. Apple’s iTunes Store owns the attention of everybody who’d want a new app. When’s thelast time you text messaged or MMS’d somebody who also has Whatsapp or Kakao Talk installed? They userped your carrier’s traffic and now own two party and group communication attention.

If owning attention required that you have to be Apple or some huge VC backed IT startup, consumer brands wouldn’t have the bandwidth to try to become attention owners. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a big IT powerhouse to own your market’s attention online.

If you’re a food maker, what would happen if you built a recipeapp where users could upload photos and their culturally influenced recipies? What would happen if you periodically featured top users on your product packaging or even your advertising? If you’re a Uniqlo or Gap, what would happen if youbuild an app developer in San Diego that let users upload photos of themselves in preset poses then let them virtually “try on” outfits on their iPad or Galaxy? What would happen if the most realistic looking photos earned that outfit for free?

The truth is, you don’t even have to build a powerful interactive app. If you just have better data than Google foryour specific vertical, you’ll own the attention of your market.That’s just what Pinterest did. They found a way to surfacebetter images than Google Image Search. Look how successful they became. Missed opportunity for Kodak?

Which of the three paths to driving a sale is right for you? Isit better to aim for an immediate sale rather than a belaboredsale? It depends entirely on you. There are pros and cons toeach scenario.

The next presentation will explain how to get all this done but rapidly. For part two, join our Fortune 100 subscribers at

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