I’ve mostly earned my living doing corporate training and instructional design for global corporations. And, in the last five years, I developed and explored a somewhat different approach to sales training—specifically for pharmaceutical sales reps. Now, the content of any professional sales training program will usually cover, at a minimum, the basics of what all salespeople need: how to ask good questions, listen, introduce relevant features, handle skepticism, indifference and objections and, of course, close. There were some new curriculum wrinkles in this course, but the essential new idea was to focus participant attention on the conversation itself and how “engaged” it was. Because, while it’s necessary to master the individual communication skills, what’s ultimately important is whether or not you’re having a truly engaged conversation with the other person. If you’re paying attention, you absolutely know when it’s happening and when it’s not. The signs…the signals of an engaged conversation are just that different. You totally know when you’re both into it…having a great time…fully engaged and when it’s just not happening. Bottom line: the very best salespeople are able to engage their customers in such conversations more consistently.
So what does this have to do with online marketing. We build a fantastic website and think we’re marketing, but we’re not. All we’ve done is create a context for marketing to begin. At least in the early stages of building a platform, marketing doesn’t happen unless conversations develop between visitors to the site and you; online marketing is actually all about those one-on-one conversations to find people who might become fans. And being good at what you do is just table stakes—necessary but not sufficient.
So if you want to see and hear not only a virtuoso violin performance of the Beethoven Romance for Violin by Ann Fontanella, but also an absolutely brilliant piece of online marketing, check it out! Notice how Ann Fontanella provides brief commentary in the upper right hand corner of the screen about her interpretation—carefully explaining what she’s trying to accomplish at each point in the performance. She is engaging with and educating her audience. Look at the comments of her viewers. That’s online marketing. That’s engaging the audience, building relationships and a publishing platform for her classical violin music, which, by the way is not such an easy sale these days.