Back in my corporate days I worked with a killer sales person. She was positively Machievellian (perhaps an ironic contradiction in terms) in her tactics, yet her numbers set the standard for account acquisition and growth.
She was also a lovely person, sincere and giving and very charismatic. Which was why her most powerful sales strategy always struck me as, well, creepy – she would go out of her way to make friends with prospective clients and existing account contacts.
Sort of like if your life insurance agent invited you to their kid’s grade school graduation. That kind of creepy.
I’m not talking front row seats or recruiting dinners where the agenda is right there on the table next to the menu. I’m talking the baking of wedding cakes and the hosting of birthday parties kind of befriending. Couples outings, girl-on-girl shopping sprees, drinks after work. The stuff of B.F.F.s and old college roomies.
Would she have struck up these friendships if her quota wasn’t on the line? I don’t think so. Did she genuinely like these people, and they her? I think they did.
Even so, I never quite came to grips with it.
And now that – as a blogger trying to grow my site – I’m faced with a similar dynamic, I’m still uncomfortable with it. In fact, I don’t want to go anywhere near it, while wanting to understand how to harness the power of it.
Good thing my strategic targets here are, for the most part, on the other side of the country, or in one case, on the other side of the planet.
Because here’s what I’ve discovered to be perhaps the most powerful growth strategy I’ve seen yet. Better than trying to guest blog on some self-proclaimed superstar’s site, which requires groveling and waiting in the wings for your emails to elicit a response, both of which are very much on the level of baking a wedding cake to land a contract.
Two words: sucking up. Creepy.
But I have found that by creating a relationship with other bloggers within my niche, rather than competing with them, I’m actually sharing in their readership.
This strategy, if you must call it that, is based on the belief that there are more than enough readers to go around, and that they usually subscribe to or visit more than one site within their field of interest.
You’ll never have them all to yourself, and neither will your peers. Even that self-anointed superstar.
I helped create these relationships in the usual ways – guest posting, commenting, etc. – but it wasn’t until I went off-line (via email) to offer compliments or ideas, even suggesting some mutually-beneficial cross-referencing, that I suddenly found myself with some new friends.
I didn’t ask them to come to my site, and certainly not to endorse it.
But that’s precisely what happened. When I sent them copies of my new ebooks with no strings and no expectations, they were quick to review them. In fact, they went beyond reviews to the extent of multiple endorsements.
When another blogger advises their readers to visit your site, for the sole reason that they believe your site offers some of the best content on the internet, you’ve just created something special, and very powerful.
It’s called viral marketing, which is based on nothing other than pure quality and timeliness. If your friends see that in your site, they’ll tell the world.
As you should when you see something your readers will value.
Creepy? I don’t think so.
Any more than setting up your single friend with someone you think they’d like to date. Any more than suggesting a favorite restaurant to someone you care about.
In fact, it’s the sincerity of this strategy that makes the word strategy an insufficient and inaccurate adjective.
It’s a full circle approach to blog growth, because it depends on the very first thing we know we need to accomplish as bloggers – creative something fresh and compelling that delivers serious value on a regular basis.
When you have that, let the world see it. You don’t have to sell it, you simply need to rub elbows with others who do what you do, and the rest will take care of itself.
Because an old rule kicks in here as validly as it does in the brick and mortar business world – people do business with people they like.
And to get them to like you, you have to like them first. Nothing creepy about that.
Even when it is strategic.
Photo credit: Afroswede