I perhaps spend about 30mins of each waking day either glancing through e-mails and text messages or taking calls, from brands that try to sell me everything from pizza to luxury condos. I am not exaggerating in the slightest, when I tell you that I literally have to say “No thank you, I am not looking for a personal loan” at least five times a day.
There is this factoid that says – every individual is ‘exposed’ to anywhere between 5000 – 20,000 brand messages in a single day. This could be true. But does that mean that the individual has ‘seen’ all those messages? Probably not. But I am going to make a guesstimate and say that the individual, a potential customer, pays attention to at least 5 – 10 ads/brand messages which they chance upon in a day. In such a scenario, how does the brand ensure that their message resonates with the customer and stands out, amidst the legions of unsolicited messages thrust at them?
You have a product or service which you want to sell. And you want customers to make a purchase, picking you over your competitors. Conventionally, brands would rely on mass media, cold calls, trade events, yellow page listings, fliers, mailing lists, online banner ads, SMS ads and a plethora of other channels to generate leads. But more often than not, these are dead-end leads. You end up investing all that time and marketing dollars, just to send your sales folks on wild-goose chases.
Fish, don’t hunt
I have to confess, I have never fished a day in my life. But fishing as a sport has always intrigued me. Fishermen seem to know where to find their fish, they know when the best time to fish is and they know what to use as bait to lure the fish. Then they wait, patiently, until the right fish comes along and takes the bait. Marketing and sales could learn a thing or two from these fishermen.
Just like with fishing, when it comes to identifying customers it is about knowing where to look for a customer and when. It is also about knowing what the customer needs and to tailor your offering accordingly.
Follow the trail
The customer always leaves behind a trail in the digital space – digital footprints, like some would call it.
In a recent press release, Gartner has said that the number of connected devices in the Internet of Things (IoT) will grow to a staggering 26 billion units and the number of smartphones, tablets and PCs will reach 7.3 billion units. To put things in perspective, that is roughly one unit per person on this planet. What does this mean for marketers?
Every time a customer uses a device connected to the IoT, they leave behind snippets of useful information about themselves. For example – a customer uses a smartphone app to monitor their movements using their smartphone’s array of sensors like gyro, GPS, accelerometer, proximity etc. They then use Wi-fi, Bluetooth, NFC or 3G and other transmission channels to upload this information, which makes its way into a central server somewhere. This data can then be leveraged by brands, in order to be armed with context before the reach out to the customer, to sell anything from a gym membership to a cardiac monitor.
Picking the right tools
There is a plethora of social media tools available that will help you scour the deep and dark pockets of the internet, helping you discover and process data about your potential customers (since I’m not getting paid for this, I’m not going to take any names :)). Once you have invested in the right tool, in no time you will have access to leads with a clear buying intent, relevant contact information (in some cases) and other pertinent facts that will help you generate piping hot leads. Of course, this is all depending on how good your analysts are at doing semantic analysis and making sense of the raw social data.