How Connection Changed the Marketing Game

In today’s hyper-connected world, there’s one aspect of business that’s growing increasingly more important: connecting with consumers. In fact, Seth Godin, author of more than 18 marketing books and a renowned marketing resource, believes we’re completely leaving the industrial economy behind and instead entering a dominant connection economy.

Of course, none of that means a thing if you don’t understand what the connection economy is and how it differs from the industrial economy we’re used to.

What Is the Connection Economy?

The one thing consumers want is to be understood by and connected to the business world. That’s the driving idea behind the connection economy. Essentially, the connection economy involves the connection we have between one another, whether that’s the connection between colleagues and peers, or the one between a provider and its consumers.

To better understand the concept, you first need to know the four main pillars that power it:

  • Coordination — of resourceful individuals to carry out your marketing plan
  • Exchange of Ideas — between consumers and marketers
  • Permission — to engage with, and market to, consumers
  • Trust — from consumers

In a general sense, it involves coordinating a team of resourceful individuals to connect to your consumers; this involves earning the trust of consumers, gaining their permission to market to them through anticipated, personal and relevant messages, and learning from them via an exchange of ideas. Ultimately, you need to bring all four pillars together to form a connection with consumers in which you pay attention to one another, thus garnering a solid stance in the market.

The industrial economy gave way to the information economy, thanks to the emergence of companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Motorola and IBM. Now it’s grown into what we call the “connection” economy. In the industrial economy, many of the old marketing trends and strategies gave consumers direct “orders” on what to buy. The products and items made were the best assets at any given time.

The connection economy involves earning the trust of consumers, gaining their permission to market to them through anticipated, personal and relevant messages, and learning from them via an exchange of ideas.

In today’s economy, however, marketing is more about building a strong relationship with your consumers and providing useful solutions or even assistance, as opposed to simply peddling products. In today’s world, our connections and communication options are our greatest assets.

How to Use the Connection Economy for Marketing

The most important thing to remember is connection marketing is the human way to do business. Technological and cultural advances have changed the way we engage and interact with the world around us, including customers, collaborators, and strategic partners alike.

By exploring the four main pillars introduced above, you can make a lasting impact in the current economy.

Build a Team of Qualified, Coordinated Individuals

Before you can begin building the connections that matter, you need a team that understands the process. More importantly, you need a group of skilled colleagues who understand which connections are most meaningful to your brand and long-term goals.

That group of individuals should not afraid to take risks, and you need to allow them the room to pursue these risks. Innovation doesn’t happen by following the same tried and true strategies forever; it happens when people branch out and try something fresh, something unheard of. Your team must be able to take initiative and put these so-called “risks” into action.

At the end of it all, it’s about coordination as a whole, including with your customers.

Marketing is more about building a strong relationship with your consumers and providing useful solutions or even assistance, as opposed to simply peddling products; our connections and communication options are our greatest assets.

Make Connections and Earn Value through Conversation 

Your audience is one of your most valuable assets. You can gain more from them just by listening than you can from any other form of research.

Use your wits, business sense and all the tools at your disposal to inject your company and brand into relevant conversations. The best way to do this is to find out where potential clients discuss their ideas and dive right in. Find out what they’re talking about, what they want, and what isn’t being addressed by the products in the market. Address those problems and concerns, and discuss possible solutions you could offer.

Become a valid, valued part of the conversation in order to form a network in which people want to pay attention to each other.

Once you put in your time — and you will have to invest some — you’ll eventually have a solid audience of like-minded people with whom you can connect and share new ideas. This is the social aspect of the connection economy. You can’t just expect to jump in and see a huge return without first building that core connection through shared ideas.

Connection marketing is the human way to do business. @SarahLandrum

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Understand the Privileges Offered to You

Permission marketing is the idea you have been given the privilege — not the right or a guarantee — to be able to deliver messages and experiences to folks who actually want to receive them. Why is this so important?

Because when people read your messages or listen to what you have to say, they are offering a valuable resource, one they can never get back: time. Essentially, that is the compensation they offer to you because in the connection economy, attention and time are precious.

Old marketing strategies didn’t take this into account, and therefore attempts to sell never gave the impression to listeners or readers that the company cared. Often, those marketing attempts shoved messages down the throats of anyone who would listen. It might have worked then, but it won’t work anymore. Now, you must ask permission before delivering a message. You do this by offering a promise upfront of what you are going to offer. That promise can be something along the lines of “I will do x, and y, and in return I hope that you will listen to what I have to say.”

In the connection economy, you must deliver anticipated — after you’ve already gotten permission — personal and relevant messages to your audience. These are the three core elements behind permission marketing, and are crucial to forming appropriate messages in your content.

Your audience is one of your most valuable assets. You can gain more from them just by listening than you can from any other form of research.

Share Meaningful and Useful Messages in Your Daily Content Creation

Interestingly enough, it’s not just about connecting with others. It’s about how you do that. Think about how and why you connect with people: Most of the time it’s because you want something, at least in the traditional business world.

That kind of thinking won’t work in the connection economy; people need a reason to remain in touch. By providing carefully formed messages through your content, you give them one.

This is done by delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to your audience. Spend some time getting to know their interests, needs and wants. You can use this information to deliver your messages in a more meaningful way.

To break the main elements down:

  • Anticipated: Create messages your audience looks forward to hearing, after you’ve gained permission
  • Personal: Create messages that directly relate to your audience and align with their interests
  • Relevant: Offer information, advice and a message that relates to something your audience is interested in

By tailoring your message to the individual — which sounds more difficult than it really is — you strengthen some of the other pillars discussed here, such as trust, confidence and generosity.

You have been given the privilege — not the right or a guarantee — to be able to deliver messages and experiences to folks who actually want to receive them.

Build Trust by Being Generous With Your Audience

When creating useful and engaging content, you also have to adhere to being a more generous person or brand as a whole. This means being more generous to employees, customers and, yes, even competitors.

Root Square 0415

We’re not talking about running down the middle of a busy street throwing money into the wind. You can maintain your generosity through helpful content, offering professional advice and tips or targeted coaching.

After all, VP of Strategic Sales and Marketing, Gregg Schwartz said it best: “The best marketers stand out from the competition not by how much they ‘get,’ but by how much they ‘give.’”

There are many ways to be generous in the world of marketing. Why do you think there are so many useful blogs and publications out there? It’s because they share their insights freely. Think about offering free guides or tutorials to your audience, for example. Become an authority in your space, but be one who is respected and loved.

Mutual respect and adoration can go a long way in building trust. Of course, trust is difficult to gain, so it will take time. Every project you take on, and complete is just another way to bolster that trust. But perhaps the most important way to build trust in the connection economy is treat every interaction like it matters. There are many ways you can influence those interactions with others, making them beneficial to you and your brand.

Turning your connections into relationships and understanding that building trust in those relationships is key to marketing in the Connection Economy.

Marketers stand out not by how much they get, but by how much they give. @manageyourleads

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Sarah Landrum graduated from Penn State with degrees in Marketing and PR. Now, she is a freelance writer and the founder of P​unched Clocks,​a site for young professionals to find happiness and success in their careers. Visit Punched Clocks and s​ubscribe to her newsletter,​and follow her on Twitter ​@SarahLandrum​for more great advice.

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