An article about bonding and rapport — and content
Nothing replaces direct interaction with a person—ideally face-to-face, but direct interaction can happen other ways, too, from talking on the phone to video messaging. But whatever the medium, these interactions start with something, an introduction, an impromptu moment, or a piece of content.
Content marketing is all about starting that direct interaction.
Yes, some people use content of one kind or another to manipulate, to get that engagement no matter what, but that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about a different kind of marketing, a marketing that is genuine, real, and that gives something to the people who choose to engage with it.
A kind of marketing that bonds with the reader and builds rapport.
Let me tell a quick story about an email and phone interaction I had with a long-time client and friend.
We had sent out an email to our list. This email did not ask for any business whatsoever. It did include the first several paragraphs of an article titled “This Stuff Works,” as well as the option for interested people to read more. That’s it—just a little information about what we do and why and an invitation to read further.
So, this long-time client called me up—he had read the article and had an epiphany. He had realized that this type of content is a form of bonding and rapport.
He had been in sales a long time. He had a lot of experience and had been through the Sander Sales Training School, a well-known program used by many people, including my business partner, Shane Snively. Part of what this school teaches is that there is a flow to sales, a progression of steps that starts with suspects, then prospects, and then…bonding and rapport. After that, you gain an up-front contract. The sales flow ends at the tenth step which, as you might have guessed, is the close.
In this flow of a sale, you cannot skip ahead. You cannot go from prospect to up-front contract, because that bonding and rapport wasn’t done. You didn’t earn the necessary trust. The prospect doesn’t know who you are or what you’re about, yet, so why would they give you their business?
So, this client of ours realized that content is one way to start earning trust by showing the reader/listener/viewer (let’s call them users) who you are and what you’re about—bonding and rapport. And it is a two-way interaction, even with users you’ve never met because the user always has a choice. They can opt-out or unfollow or flat-out say they don’t like it. Content is always a team effort between the producer and the consumer. Content creation can’t replace in-person interaction, but it is part of the picture, and the in-person component often starts when readers reach out to talk about content they liked.
My friend and client not only noticed how content works as a kind of rapport, but he also experienced it. We didn’t force him to read what we put out, and we didn’t try to manipulate him into having certain thoughts or feelings about what he read. And yet he kept on reading. Something allowed us to stay in his news feed. Then one day (you can see why patience is important) he had this unique realization. He saw something in our content that meant something to him because of his experience in sales and his Sandler Training background. Someone else might find that something different jumps out at them. Every individual comes to their own, unique conclusions, and there’s no way to predict that or force that—but if you’re real, if you keep putting yourself out there, it will happen.
It happened to this man, and when it did, he understood more what we were talking about, what we believe, and he felt more comfortable than ever with the story we’re telling. He felt the content bonded with him. And he reached out to us to say he wants to do the same thing for his business—create content that bonds and builds rapport with his prospects and clients.
It’s impossible to talk with or meet face-to-face with everyone. You really have to use your time wisely. But you can connect with individuals you don’t know and haven’t meant (or even those you do know) through content. You can get the conversation started.
Content marketing is a lot of things. Bonding and rapport is one of the major ones.
If you want to build bonding and rapport with your prospects and clients through content marketing, you should!