Create Customer Connections That Count

More is More. Or Is It?

In an era where executives obsess about measuring almost everything, I have to ask: are we measuring the right things? Do our investments in “more” actually deliver something better, like customer connections that count?

As we enter Super Bowl season, when even those with an aversion to sports love to play the game of “catch the best commercial,” our obsession with more for the sake of more becomes crystal clear.

Will a $4,000,000 ad that lasts just 30-seconds really catapult a business to success?

Sure it will be seen by millions of viewers, but how many of them will even remember what company was behind that clever ad? Maybe millions will play it back on YouTube and share it with hundreds of thousands of friends on Facebook, but how much of that social sharing translates to revenue?

Volume doesn’t matter, results do.

Visibility Is Not Connection

There’s a big difference between simply being seen and really being heard. Connecting with customers in meaningful ways requires a certain degree of visibility – after all the best kept secret is still a secret.

That visibility only counts when it’s in front of the right audience. What’s the point of reaching people who can’t or won’t buy what you’re selling? When your marketing efforts attract lots of attention from the wrong prospects, you’re actually doing your business a disservice, wasting time, money and effort with non-buyers.

The right kind of visibility places your brand where your customers hang out. It creates buzz among people who can make or influence purchase decisions. It serves as a stepping stone to a connection that leads to a revenue-generating relationship.

Make Connections That Count

Customer relationships matter, but they’re not the only connections that count. When you’re building a business, all kinds of connections can bear fruit. Customers pay the bills, but employees, partners, suppliers and advisors are all necessary to drive growth.

As a business leader, your job is to identify and connect with all types of people, cultivating relationships that last. This is an impossible task if your only motivation is to win sales at all costs or make sure your earnings beat estimates.

Creating better connections requires less focus on raw numbers and more emphasis on quality:

  • Collecting 82 business cards at a networking event doesn’t mean a thing if those cards don’t represent people who should be in your network.
  • Having 10,458 Twitter followers is also of little value, unless those people are interested in what you have to say and open to a dialog with you.
  • Winning three customers who will refer you to many others trumps thirty customers that don’t tell anyone about your value.

Stop thinking about the numbers and look at the impact. Are your connections inspiring you? Challenging you? Forcing you to grow personally and professionally?

Positive Connections Create Positive Results

My 7th grade science teacher used to tell us he didn’t care if we talked about him, even if it was bad. “As long as you’re thinking about me,” he said, “that’s good.

I have to disagree.

Positive connections are what you need to build a brand reputation that adds value to the bottom line. Negative perceptions may create buzz, but they don’t help build a profitable business. Proactive, engaged relationships involve give and take, sharing and compromise, and most of all, trust.

Why “Connect”

In last week’s post, I mentioned Chris Brogan’s recommendation to pick three words to live by each year. “Connect” is one of mine for 2014 (the others are Fit and Stretch). In that post, I promised to explain my choices. Here’s why I aim to Connect more this year.

The beauty of connection is the opportunity to discover new things – whether it’s fresh thinking about a persistent problem, innovative ideas or untapped markets. Like the old commercial for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups demonstrates, chance connections can yield sweet and unexpected results.

For me, connection is about much more than selling something. It’s…

  1. Adding value by introducing people who can benefit from knowing each other.
  2. Drawing a thread been seemingly disparate ideas to create innovative concepts.
  3. Getting to know people at a deeper level, to really understand what is important to them.
  4. Making acquaintances outside my normal circles, to broaden my horizons and share insights.
  5. Matching people with undiscovered opportunities, so they can grow and profit.
  6. Connecting what I do on a daily basis to the lasting impact I hope to have on the world.

What about you? How – and why – do you create connections that count?

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