inspire your audience to take action

Success in social media is defined based upon specific goals and objectives.  Most agree that Random Acts of Social Media (RASMs) and Random Acts of Marketing (RAMs) are not going to get you to the ROI hall of fame in 2011!

Most also agree that social media should be executed under the umbrella of a plan with a focus on integrating into the DNA of your business in support of broader goals and objectives.

So, for the sake of this post let’s assume we have a plan, we have goals and we have objectives. One might think, “great, we’re done planning – now let’s go tweet about it.”

Wrong!  Don’t head straight to the tweet deck until you have taken the time to understand your audience. Get inside their head and figure out what makes them tick. What attracts them organically to you, your brand and your services? Hopefully you already did this as part of building your plan, establishing your goals etc. However, I know most of you have not, thus the reason for this post!

Welcome to the inspiration age! Focus on how you can inspire your audiences to action. As Brian Solis states, the online currency for social media is action. Amen! There are no words that ring truer to me in 2011 as we reach for business and personal success in using social media.

The next question might be “great, sounds good – now how do I get them to take action?” The question is simple and the answer is complicated but shouldn’t be. Know your customer. Know what they need. Know how you can help them. Then figure out how to communicate with them in a way that inspires them to take action on your behalf.

The action should be different based upon where they are in the sales cycle such as awareness, consideration, preference or purchase. If they’re in the awareness phase then a desired action might be to inspire them to visit your blog, click “like” on your Facebook business page or subscribe to your email list. Your goal should be to motivate and inspire them to move to the next phase of the relationship with you with a goal of building trust. As another example, if your audience member is in between consideration and preference then a desired action might be to have them subscribe to an email opt-in nurture program to receive a free whitepaper on a topic that will help them improve their life or business efficiencies.

So how do you inspire them to action? Here are some ideas to get you started. I get asked this frequently so I figured I’d document some specific suggestions and ideas to help marketing leaders connect with their audience.

Let’s take a look at the definition of the term inspire.

v. in·spired, in·spir·ing, in·spires

1. To affect, guide, or arouse by divine influence.
2. To fill with enlivening or exalting emotion:
3. a. To stimulate to action; motivate: a sales force that was inspired by the prospect of a bonus.
b. To affect or touch: The falling leaves inspired her with sadness.
4. To draw forth; elicit or arouse: a teacher who inspired admiration and respect.
5. To be the cause or source of; bring about: an invention that inspired many imitations.
6. To draw in (air) by inhaling.
a. To breathe on.
b. To breathe life into.

So the words that pop out to me are affect, guide, influence, enlivening, emotion, stimulate, action, motivate and touch. ”To draw in” is also interesting as is “breathe life into”. I guess the entire definition “inspires” me, no pun intended.

Remember that inspiration is unique to the individual. What inspires me probably won’t always inspire my husband. Our needs and desires differ based upon our skills, life experiences, demographics and many other factors. The more you can know about your audience the better so that you can properly segment and ask many of the questions I provide below. Use it as a guide to gather research if you have not done such before.

10 Tips to Get to Know and Inspire Your Audience:

1. What is the mindset of your audience? Where are they emotionally, mentally, professionally, financially, physically, and possibly even from a geography basis depending on your service offering. Are they under pressure? Are they financially distressed, in the middle of a move, or months away from getting married? The mindset of your audience can unlock many keys to connecting with them emotionally.
Social Media Example: Post a morning and afternoon quote to Twitter and Facebook that relates to where their mindset is.

2. What do they need? How can your product or service feel a need in their life or business?

3. What do they want? This is different than a “need”. They may need to buy a printer, a computer, or the services of an accountant. However, they may “want” a new payroll software system, faster computer for their product development team and list goes on. Understanding the difference between needs and wants can help you not only connect emotionally but also highlight key messages that will resonate with the securities the “need” makes them feel as well as the excitement or fulfillment the securing of the want will fill. They often times are very different emotionally needs and messages that can be leveraged for such value proposition development.
Social Media Example: Execute a poll asking what their top goals or needs are for 2011. You’ll be surprised how many people will answer this question if you simply ask!

4. What could make their life easier? Don’t forget to connect with the person as a human being. Don’t only focus on the business objectives of your audience. Also focus on the individual needs they have as a human being, as a father, mother or friend. Are they worried of losing their job? How can your product or service help them feel more secure in their job? How can you help them enjoy more time off so they can spend it with their family? Knowing their state of mind, needs and desires will help you better understand how you can help better their life.
Social Media Example: Again, ask the question. Execute a poll asking what they dream about. Ask them “what if” types of questions. Ask them what their favorite vacation spots are. Ask them “what if” time was of no constraint, how would they spend their week.

5. How can you help their business be more efficient? How can you decrease costs, increase margins, increase return on investment? How about improving the efficiencies within their sales or customer services departments? Really take the time in this area to understand and validate the core opportunities you have to align your products to their business needs. The better you can do this the higher chance you have at inspiring them to subscribe to your email newsletter, click the Facebook like button or follow you on Twitter! Give them a reason to do such!
Social Media Example: This is where the rubber meets the road in regard to you establishing your thought leadership. Let them know you understand their business. Talk directly to their needs and wants for business. Give them tips, best practices. Offer them white papers. Give your best stuff within your free offers. Don’t hold back. If you do this, then when it’s time for the customer to make a purchase decision you will be one of the first that will come to mind.

6. How can you help them spend more time with their family and friends enjoying life? Who doesn’t wish they had more time to live and enjoy life? If your product can do such, time to let your audience know it can! Don’t be shy in sharing your life enhancing benefits!
Social Media Example: Same thing goes here. If your product helps their life, tell them so. However, don’t focus the message on your product. Focus the message on the benefits and what it can do for your audience!

7. How can you help them achieve their dreams? What do they dream of? Where do they dream of being in one, two, three or five years? Where would they like to be? Who would they like to be with? What do they want to be doing? How would they like to get there? Why do they dream of this?

8. What can help them reach a personal, business goal or dream? What career goals do they have? How can your product or service help them advance in their career? How can it help secure their position within their organization or within the community? Same thing goes for the personal goals. Who do they want to be? Do they need help securing a better job so they can pay their bills, afford to take a vacation, spend more time with family.

9. How can you help them achieve more satisfaction or peace in life and business? What brings them peace? What makes them feel satisfied? If peace for them is keeping their boss off their back then by all means don’t be afraid to include some marketing messages on such. I did this for many years when selling big iron in the high tech “dot com” days. I focused on the role of the IT director and CTO. I zoomed in on how I could help them achieve more, keep the boss off the back. I learned that when I helped them keep their job, kept the boss off their back that their boss also became very interested in our services. He/she would then want to discuss how we could help their organization or department overall. Zooming in on the human being side of business helps you navigage roadways into business opportunites as well as overcome sales obstacles you’d never be able to do otherwise.
Social Media Example: Start a Facebook “keep your boss off your back Friday” event on your Facebook business page. Crowdsource the discussion. Ask them to partiicpate and share the best ways they know to keep a boss off your back. Guess what, in asking such questions in the open social media world not only are you establishing yourself as a thought leader, engaging with your audience, but you are also doing research without having to do a whole lot of work.

10. How can you relate to them? What can you do to relate to them personally and professionally? What do you have in common with them? How can you help them know there are others who struggle with the same challenges? Let them know you are there to help. Celebrate their wins. Be there for them when they face challenges. Be aware of who they are, what they are doing and what they need. The better you can relate to them the better you will know then and can build an authentic relationship with them.

Some additional questions to ask yourself as you’re zooming in on the pain points and goals of your audience:
1. What is the most challenging thing in their biz?
2. What literally drives them nuts each day?
3. What eats away at their Return On Investment (ROI)?
4. What affects foot traffic into their location or storefront?
5. What affects web traffic? How can you help improve web traffic?
6. How can you partner with them for mutual benefit?
7. What is on their list of goals, objectives or dreams they wish they could do but can’t afford?
8. What are the things they have to pay for in business or life but don’t want to?
9. How can you make a menial task fun!
10. How can you help them help their community?

The key is to focus on adding value in every aspect of marketing and communications. Adding value via compelling and relevant information, positive communications and simply “being there” can help you inspire your audience to further connect with you.

We must first inspire our audiences to connect with us. We then build meaningful relationships that are focused on helping our audience achieve their goals. Last we achieve our goal as a result of helping someone else succeed! Inspire – Connect – Achieve

Your Turn

What are your thoughts? How do you inspire and connect with your audience? What works best? Do you leverage emotional branding to do such?