Monday, February 7, 2011

Let your customers in

I'm so sick of hearing about your social media, blah, blah blah. We're all on Facebook now, and frankly, many of us have moved on after the awkward reconnection with high school friends we barely remember. What are you supposed to do with Facebook if you don't do farmville? Twittter? Yeah, I do that to, but keeping up with all of the goings on over there can be somewhere between counterproductive and obsessive. For those of you that have found the balance for twitter in your lives, including my brothers (@endcycle, @bradmahler), you are more man than I (or perhaps just less neurotic). And LinkedIn, well, that's just really no fun. Apparently, you're not supposed to have a sense of humor and be in business.

So what's a guy to do? Here's my solution, and I think I have some evidence it works. I decided a while back that social network is like public speaking (I guess, in some form, it actually is public speaking).With public speaking, you sort of just have to go for it. I speak to crowds rather frequently, and I'm just not the polished public speaker type, but I have to let my personality come through. If I didn't I'd end up in a fidgety fetal position. So I let it fly, because that's the only way I deal. In the end, I get comments like "impassioned", "funny", and sometimes "weird". That's ok, that's who I am, and at least I'm being honest. Facebook should actually be the same way. I am a highly opinionated individual, releasing those opinions and experiences on facebook have proven to be a good thing. I don't want to get too narcissistic, but, that's sort of what it's there for. I have 2 places for facebooking, my personal page, and my business page ( I basically use my business page to talk about wine, and personal for everything else. I try to keep both light and witty, with my personality imposed on both. Here's what I've discovered: this has helped the people around me (customers & consumers) to get to know me a little better. And it's really me and my personality. If, as a salesperson, you're trying to make that personal connection, what's easier than letting your acquaintances read about your adventures and opinions about crappy movies? It turns out that even though not everyone feels compelled to post (it is like public speaking), many read, and they read daily. For business, it can be very good that your customers, even though they may not actually interact with you or your posts, have registered opinions and thoughts about things you've said or done. When you walk in that door to sell them something, it's not that it's been months since you've seen them in their mind, they're already caught up.

So how do i know they're reading? what's the impact? Well, in November I grew a beard. It was my "downtime beard" and before market work season returned (mid-Jan) I shaved it off. For the last 3 weeks I've been criss-crossing my market, seeing many of my customers for the first time in 2011. What did I hear more than anything? "oh, you shaved your beard". I didn't know they knew I had a beard, but there were a few photos i was tagged in over the holidays with beard. In their mind, the online reality and the actual reality were now the same. The most important thing is as these customers/ friends have gotten to know me better, they like me more (or are at least more polite),and they buy more wine from me.


  1. Interesting thoughts - I agree with the principle that social media for business is about blurring the boundaries to turn what we used to call "business relationships" into actual relationships.

    It also works the other way of course - you too can learn about customers to make your products, visits and conversations more timely and relevant. Everyone wins and you have fun at the same time (as long as you are not hiding anything) :)

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  3. I can't believe you shaved off that beard.