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James Parnwell

James Parnwell

How you can use Social Media to sell to potential clients before they’ve even met you

Once upon a time, back in the good old days (horse and cart days) you could simply start a business, hang a sign out the front of your shop (or maybe even your house) and start getting customers. If you did what you said you would do, you had a good chance of growing a successful business. As the industrial revolution came and went and economies became more and more sophisticated our ability to communicate and market our business has had to become increasingly complex. Now that we sit in a digital era, we mistakenly think we can simply set up a website (the modern day version of “hanging out a sign”) and start getting business. 

Where does your business sit on the purchasing matrix?

Take a look at this matrix and ask yourself where your business fits? The y axis asks whether your product/service is complex or simple and the x axis asks whether it high value or low value. A high complexity high-value purchase would include using a real estate agent, hiring a financial planner or buying a car. An example of a high-value low complexity purchase would be purchasing a new kitchen or new blinds for your home. You basically know what it’s all about and know how to go about purchasing. 

purchasing matrix 

I want to begin with the premise that people very rarely make impulse buys online. When they do it often fits into the low value/low complexity quadrant. If you need a new phone case or a collar for your pet poodle then people will happily part with $12.99 in the knowledge that the risk of the item never turning up won’t impact their lives very much. However, if you offer a highly complex and high-value product/service such as real estate agency or financial planning then you will have to “nurture” your customers towards purchasing from you.   

To give an analogy, how do you think you would respond if you were at a party and someone came up to you and said, “You are very attractive and seem like a nice person, will you marry me?” Asking someone to entrust you with managing their financial future or the sale of their house based on seeing one ad on Facebook is essentially doing the same thing. Experience tells me that if you try to market this way you will get a few, poorly qualified leads at best. Save your money, read the following and take the time to win customers over the slow, steady but strong way. 

We need to let people get to know us with our marketing, to do this, we need to create an “ecosystem” for them and speak to them multiple times. The experts say that we need to have between 6 and 13+ touch points to get people “sales ready”.

So how do you connect with these people without being ‘spammy’?

Our team and I have developed a Social Content Ecosystem to attract and speak with qualified customers. 

Essentially, we need to bring people through the 5 stages of the sales process (or help them bring them up the mountain):


social content ecosystem

We use technology (Facebook, Social Media & the Google AdWords Suite) to do this. Let’s walk through the five steps to see how this works…

1. Awareness

Awareness is about locating your target audience as a broad demographic and showing them a video to introduce them to your business. Why video? There are two reasons, firstly according to experts around 80% of the internet will be video by 2021, secondly, we can use Facebook and YouTube to create audiences of people that have engaged with our videos.  

Video is the cheapest way to show your message to a large group of people. If you can create a clear and compelling message you can filter your target audience from people who are interested in making a decision soon and remove the people who aren’t ready. You could show your video to 100,000 and whittle potential customers down to 5,000, for example.  

You can use Inspirational Videos, Educational Videos, Entertaining Videos, or Story Telling, but you to need to make sure you grab the attention of the viewer within the first 4 seconds! 

2. Nurture 

We can now use this 5,000 people to nurture them towards knowing, liking and trusting you. This is where content comes in in a big way. You can use a mixture of blogs, infographics, videos, fun or humorous posts and just being helpful to get your audience to begin to engage with you more deeply. They have been exposed to you once via the awareness video, now you can tell them what good people you are by being super generous with information from your experience in your industry. We need to show them a variety of different content and give them the next 7+ touch points so they warm up to being sales-ready.  

People may sit at this stage for a long time, others will engage more quickly. Those that click on a blog article, view an infographic or engage with your content in any way get moved on to the ‘interested’ phase. Let’s suppose from the 5,000 people in this group we now have 500 people expressing a higher level of interest. 

 3. Interest

Once they are at the ‘interested’ phase we can start to become more assertive in our marketing. The ideal next step is to offer them a lead magnet of some sort. This can take the form of a Free Guide, a Whitepaper, Weekly Updates, Quiz, Assessment Tool, Free Mini Course etc… 

You will need to work out which is the best method for your business, but getting them to download your Lead Magnet means you can now market to them via email. You will now have them in multiple lists; you will have them in a custom audience on Facebook, Remarketing on the Google Display Network (GDN) and their email address so you can start to ask for the sale in the next phase.  

4. Consideration

You now have people seriously considering doing business with you. It’s time to ask for the sale, whether it be to book a meeting with you or buy your online product/service. You have invested the time and effort to get to know these people and it’s no longer weird or inappropriate to ask them for the sale. This can be done by running direct ads on Facebook or GDN remarketing images, or by running them through an email journey with a hard call to action in the final email. 

5. Conversion / Sale

By this point in the journey, after nurturing customers slowly through your process you should not just have customers but raving fans, which is what every business wants!

Ongoing Marketing

The great thing about creating a content ecosystem like this is that once you’ve created it you can set it to run almost automatically. It’s not something you do once, it’s continually running in the background. So for example, rather than run step 1 for a week or two, get your audience of 100k and turn it off, you are continually growing that viewer base and continually whittling it down and bringing people ‘up the mountain’. This is will ensure a consistent and steady flow of ‘hot leads’ for your business and help you to grow.




James Parnwell
James Parnwell

James is the Managing Director and resident strategist at TheOnlineCo. He is clever and creative with a flair for making complex things sound simple. He has been in the marketing game for over 2 decades and has watched the landscape slowly shift. James has his finger on the pulse of every aspect within TheOnlineCo, meeting with all clients as well as every core team member and strategising a specific plan tailored to each client.

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