It's official, the days of talking AT your target market are over replaced by a much more immersive and interactive dialog as a means of attracting, creating interest and ultimately, addressing the full wants and needs of your marketplace.
People are fed up with being TOLD what to believe, do or buy and instead want to be engaged, have a chance to become part of the process of interacting with who they may eventually buy from.
So, you get celebrities adopting social networking tools en masse to reach their audiences, individual bloggers who have come up from oblivion in their basement to become major online personalities (guys like Darren Rowse of Copyblogger and Gary Vaynerchuck of the "Wine Guy" blogging fame) and you get major corporations such as Volkswagon designing social networking campaigns that are designed to engage their audience, not blast a message at them.
In this new world of engaging and conversing with your marketplace, what could that mean for your online business?
1. Know Your Market Extremely Well!
The first rule of this new world of online marketing (and indeed marketing in general) is that you MUST know your market extremely well…who they are, what their goals, dreams and objectives are, what their irrational passions look like and what frustrations and obstacles often stand in their way.
Have you ever engaged in a conversation with someone that seems nearly effortless – you know them, they know you and exchanging ideas seems so simple? You want to get to that stage with the active portion of your marketplace so that you can quickly and easily engage and interact with your marketplace on their level.
2. Give A Damn…Listen And Engage
Look, social networking, blogging, interacting with your audience via video and real-time via Ustream, Twitter, Facebook or other social networking platform means that you need to be real, you need to listen before you talk and that you are able to quickly adjust to conversations and situations that allow you to engage – on a deep level – with your audience.
To do that, you need to care about your market. You must try hard – very hard to enage them, keep them tuned in and keep providing them with value until you break through the "trust" barrier that will turn them from skeptic into admirer, and if you are lucky, a champion.
3. Identify Opportunities To Help…For Profit
The good news about becoming more engaged and interactive with your market is that you will very quickly see opportunities to contribute high value to them helping your market toward achieving their ultimate goals…for that they will pay you for your time.
Learn to identify these opportunity triggers (something we focus on heavily within InfoMarketer'sZone sharing dozens of ways to identify hot information, training, consulting and subscription options within markets)
4. Look Toward Paid Communities and Subscriptions…
In a recent blog post, Chris Brogan highlights his take on Media Trends listing paid subscription delivery of media and content as a key opportunity – I agree 110%. In fact, many of first generation information entrepreneurs (book and ebook authors, speakers, trainers, bloggers and others who share information) are now expanding their business options and profits by adopting engagement-oriented subscription delivery of content to their markets.
Imagine identifying a core group of people that share a passion and desire, you engage them through a mix of formats including social networking, blogging, videos, email lists, ustream streaming updates, question and answer teleseminars, etc… and from that they understand you truly give a damn, that you want to help them achieve their ultimate desired goals, dreams and passions.
Now, imagine if you create the #1 resource for helping them not only become informed on their topic of interest, but that you bring the best content from a multitude of sources, that you let the participate, comment, praise and critisize the content they see out of which comes even more meaningful content…and that they pay you $5, $10, $30 or more each month for the platform you have designed to help them be engaged progressing toward their goal.
This should not seem so far fetched, there are micro-niche businesses growing like crazy based exactly on this model today – if you are starting or growing your business today, this is the model you should be taking very seriously.