Traditional businesses often refer to sales funnels, the process by which people become customers or repeat customers. No one starts out buying your product. Instead, they start as random people; you need to move them through the sales funnel. Start by making them aware of your company, then get them interested in what you are doing. Give people a reason to buy your products, and then close the sale.
Non-profit organizations and communities have a similar process, sometimes called the Ladder of Engagement. Everyone starts out as a potentially active supporter who is not yet involved. People begin to pay attention to what’s going on, for instance reading a blog or newsletter. They may then get involved at a basic level, signing up for a website or attending an event. Slowly, that person becomes more and more involved, commenting on what they think, and then sharing their opinions with others. Eventually a person might become a leader of a group, such as the blogger everyone reads. This applies both online and offline.
In some ways, this might be a better way of thinking about online businesses, especially with social media. Most people are going to be completely inactive, never having heard of your company. Some will see what you are doing, but not buy anything. A few will buy your product. A portion of those few will not only buy what you are selling but also write a (hopefully positive) review. A couple of them will then share that review with other people, both online and off. This concept should guide your business as you move customers up to the ladder of engagement and get them to talk to their friends about your work.
Are you moving customers up the ladder of engagement? Next week, we’ll talk about how to do this.