Marketing in Circles

When I’m not consulting, coaching, or teaching, I get to do one of my favorite things — speaking to large groups of marketers and business owners eager to build their brands and grow their businesses. Last spring I had the opportunity to address the International Roller Skating Association at their national conference in Las Vegas.

During the question-and-answer session that followed my keynote on social media, one marketer stood up and asked the million-dollar question, “What’s one thing you would do if you were us?” I get asked this question a lot.

When push comes to shove, marketers today are overwhelmed. Despite all of the new information we’re constantly bombarded with, we struggle to identify the real insights. The nuggets that we can implement right away to help improve our business. That’s why it’s the million-dollar question. That’s also why it’s hard to answer. Sometimes my answer changes. This group was made up of owners, managers, and marketers in a rapidly changing industry (is there another kind today?).

My Answer to the Million-Dollar Question

Focus on the people already in your business today. Your happy customers. Find ways to embrace them online and off and encourage them to share the experiences they’re having with your brand.

For my skating rink owners and operators, this group is represented by the customers who are already coming into their businesses and enjoying themselves. How are you pleasing them? How are you creating unique brand experiences that they want to be a part of and, more importantly, share with their friends online? Can you hang a selfie frame in your rink? Can you gamify user-generated content by encouraging fan photos during limbo contests and snowball skates? If you’re doing your job right, they’re already having fun. You just need to encourage them to share this.

Sounds simple, right? And yet too often we spend too much time focusing on the people that aren’t anywhere near our businesses. Retailers exhaust themselves trying to appeal to new customers. Brands make comprehensive plans for dealing with upset customers without any kind of system for elevating passionate, happy fans. That’s not to say that these groups aren’t important. But when it comes to your limited time and resources, you need to spend more where you’ll get more in return.

Marketing in Concentric Circles

In a way, this approach mirrors a set of concentric circles. Start at the center with the people closest too you — your family, friends, staff, current customers, fans, and radiate outward. (Yes, I include family and friends. As marketers we have to be shameless and call in our favors. Your family and friends are usually willing to help if you simply ask. Just don’t go to the well too often.)

Here are some groups — presented as concentric circles — to help you focus your marketing. You have to prioritize. Start at the center first and work your way out.

  • Center circles —Don’t just start with your customers. Start with your rabid customers. Those raving fans who love what you do and always make a point of telling you so. Are you treating them differently? Do you have a plan for how they can share the experiences they’re having with your brand with others?
  • Inner circles — With your rabid customers off the bench and into the game, you can focus on the rest of your customers. They’re already doing business with you. How can you encourage this group that might need a bit of a nudge to share their experiences? Hint: You might need to do a contest or two here to get things moving.
  • Almost-outer circles — This circle is called “almost out” for a reason. They’re near the edge because they’ve been a customer but they’ve had a bad experience. Put a plan in place for moving them back to the center. Once they bounce out to the outer circle, they’ll be harder to bring back in (and more expensive).
  • Outer circles — After you cover your center circles, you can start to focus on your prospects and potential customers in the outer circles. This outreach is where too many start. Don’t make this mistake. Prospecting and lead generation are key but not at the expensive of caring for your best customers.

With so many marketing opportunities today — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, blogging, podcasting, and so on — you have to focus your work. To do so, you have to make sure you’re focusing on the right people first.

Are you focusing your marketing on the right circles?

P.S. Curious to learn more about booking me as a speaker? Learn more on my speaking page.