If you are familiar with marketing, you may have heard of the “Rule of 7” that suggests a marketing message must reach a potential customer at least 7 times before they make the decision to buy from you.
Obviously that number is flexible, with some prospects buying sooner or later than the seventh communication, but the generally agreed-upon number to aim for is 7. Why is this information here on a blog about networking? Because this simple adage supports the eSAX networking position that people should not try to make a sale the first time they connect with a prospect. Networking should be just step one of a long-term engagement plan that will push people through a sales funnel over time.
Having seven “touches” (as they are often referred) with someone lets them come to know you, trust you, and eventually buy from you. The word “touch” is often used, not because you should make physical contact, but because it invokes a human connection. In-person touches are oftentimes stronger than other marketing techniques because seeing a person’s body language and hearing their tone and infliction builds trust and relationships on a deep and human level. Making that face-to-face connection, and actually shaking hands and introducing yourself and your business will make you way more memorable than you could be through print or online marketing alone. This is an ideal time to try to make a meaningful connection at this point through stories that will make you and your brand memorable.
Why don’t people buy right away? One of the simplest reasons is that they just don’t need your product or service right now (which is why maintaining contact will keep you in mind when they DO have need for you), but another huge reason is simply that people don’t usually buy when they don’t trust. Think of all the advertisements we are bombarded with on TV, the radio, billboards, and even on social media. Brands have to work hard to build familiarity and trust to break through the consumer walls that we build to block out the constant noise.
Think of meeting someone at a networking event as the first contact. Following up with an email, a LinkedIn connection, and a coffee meeting (or skype chat) is a great next few touches. After that you must maintain consistent and repetitive contact if you want to continue to nurture that lead.
To read about more ways to connect with your customer, go over to my coordinating blog post!