Stuffed in a folder here in my office is an old idea I had for a book that compares marketing to the solar system. That metaphor, which I call radiant marketing, is quite apt for describing how marketing efforts are being impacted by new technologies and ways of connecting with customers and members.
It's a simple metaphor with the sun representing a business and the planets the customers. The gravitational pull of the sun brings customers closer and those nearest the sun being the most loyal customers. As customers get drawn near and pass through the Asteroid Belt, they jettison their moons (friends, family, colleagues), which become new planets (prospects and customers) that orbit the sun.
As a business owner, your job is to keep the sun burning bright and not let it fade into a black hole. To keep a business humming, you need to continually draw customers closer to you so they turn into raving fans that spread the good word about your products and services to their friends and family. Marketing through multiple channels is the way to do this.
But which marketing channel do you start with when you're pressed for time? I'd argue email is the most important, followed by social media. Why? As Christopher S. Penn writes, "You own nothing in social media." All your friends, followers, fans, and connections really belong to the social network, not to you. If Facebook were to go away tomorrow, so does the record of all those people who liked your Page. But your email database is yours and yours alone. (Even if you use an email service provider, the names in the database are yours.)
Build your database of customers internally first so you can market to them directly through email. Much like the rays of the sun providing light and energy to the planets, sending regularly scheduled email campaigns chock full of valuable information can help nurture and grow the customer relationship. It's been well documented that staying in touch with customers using content-based campaigns demonstrates your business' expertise and keeps you top of mind with them so that when they do decide to make a purchase, they come to you first.
Of course, I'm not downplaying the importance of social media as a marketing channel. In my next post, I'll discuss using social media marketing to help extend your reach beyond your solar system of customers using Facebook, Twitter, and other services to reach out to prospects and create new planets that will circle your sun.