The Most Interested Man in The World

You’ve no doubt seen the commercials. 

The suave gentleman, casually sipping beer while the voice over describes his exploits. 

Cuba imports cigars from him. 

Mosquitos refuse to bite him purely out of respect.

In museums, he is allowed to touch the art.

Police often question him simply because they find him interesting.

He is, The Most Interesting Man in The World.

The award-winning commercials for Dos Equis Beer first appeared in 2006 and were an instant hit.   As I plan my marketing for the coming year, I have decided that I want to become The Most Interested Man In the World. 

Don’t get it?  Let me explain.

My LinkedIn headline says that I am a connect or of people.  I wrote that years ago, after having read Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point.”  In that book Gladwell tells the story of a financial advisor in Western Australia who maintains over 13,000 connections on LinkedIn.  Gladwell says that according to LinkedIn at the time, this financial advisor was the most connected man in the world.  He goes on to explain how he has leveraged this network and become a very successful advisor.

When I first read that I was intrigued but I knew there had to be more to the story.  It’s true, maintaining a lot of connections is a great way to build out content and reach people that are ready to buy.  But it’s only part of the puzzle.  The message that you put out there and the way you keep people engaged is equally as important.

So, I kept researching until I saw a video on YouTube by another Australian, internet marketing mogul Sabri Suby.  I’m not sure what it is about Australia that seems to be ahead of the curve on this stuff but I’m willing to roll with whatever works. 

Suby claims that only about 3% of people you meet are ready to buy at any given moment, so a shotgun approach to marketing, where you blast your message out to as many people as possible is only going to be 3% efficient.  The real key to successful marketing is finding a way to move the other 97%. 

I haven’t been able to verify Suby’s numbers but that’s not the point, it’s more the broad idea that only a small percentage of people are going to be interested in what you have to say.  For the sake of argument here’s his breakdown:

  • 3% are ready to buy.  They have already made up their mind to buy from someone so marketing to them is all about timing.  You need to hit them at the moment your product is front of mind but shot-gunning your message and hoping to hit people at just the right time is not efficient, so forget about it.
  • 17% are interested in buying, but they are still shopping around.  Maybe they aren’t sure what they need, maybe they need to save a bit more, maybe they are still just a little bit skeptical and are hoping for that one killer offer that will tip the scale.  Marketing to them is about making a compelling invitation so that they decide to buy now, from you.
  • 20% know they should buy but they are skeptical and/or lazy.  These are the “someday” shoppers.  They say, I’ll get to it someday, but I don’t really feel a strong need right now.  Marketing to this group is all about education.  You are battling inertia, the more knowledge you give them, or the more uncomfortable you can make them, the more likely they are to move into a buying posture. 
  • 60% don’t even know they have a problem.  Marketing to this group is futile, they aren’t listening.  They don’t even know they should be listening.  The only way to reach these people is through word of mouth.  They listen to their friends and colleagues, not advertisers.  Your only hope in reaching them is to do a good job with the other 40% and hope they get a case of FOMO.  If enough of their personal network tell them that owning your product is a good idea, then they will at least be ready to hear your message but for now, forget about them.

Marketing therefore is about targeting your message to the 37% of buyers in the middle with a compelling offer and education until they are ready to buy.

But that’s not all.  Marketers of service-related products have another problem.

The products that we sell, are unsexy and the minute we start talking to someone their backs go up.  They start thinking of all the reasons why they don’t need it and why they shouldn’t trust us.  It’s like a baseball player who’s sitting on a fastball.  The second they see it coming they unload and knock it out of the park.  In our case, they start to hit us with a barrage of objections until we give up. 

Sure, like a good pitcher we might occasionally sneak one by but by taking that approach the relationship is unnecessarily adversarial right from the start.  We might get a sale, but we won’t achieve trusted advisor status or gain a long-term advocate.

So, what is a service industry marketer to do?

The key to moving the 20% who know they have a problem, and the 17% who are ready to buy is not in continually pitching your product.  Instead, the key to this kind of marketing is in providing real relational value for free

What do I mean by relational value? 

It’s about providing connections to the people and services they need without expecting anything in return.  Helping the software developer hire a programmer, the homeowner find a painter, and the new mom find a daycare.  It’s about listening between the lines and solving people’s problems before they even know what they are themselves. 

All without any expectation of anything in return until one day when they are ready to buy you are the only person on their mind. 

In short, it’s about becoming the Most Interested Man in the world.  You need to become interested in everyone and everything, drink in knowledge from every source, learn to hold your own in conversations across a broad range of topics and constantly listen for opportunities to introduce the people you know. 

It’s Six Degrees of Separation in reverse. 

As you continue to do this the people in your network will start coming to you with their problems in the belief that you will have a connection that can help.  As you continually build out your network it will gradually become more and more likely that you do.  

The ultimate end game is to reduce as much as possible your network to one degree of separation with you as the hub of the wheel.  That way you have your finger on the pulse of everything that is happening within your network and when someone expresses an interest in the services that you provide, you are the first call they make.

Make no mistake, this doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a long game.  But The Most Interested Man in the World, eventually becomes The Most Connected Man in the World and that’s what makes him interesting. 

Time to go and make some more connections…

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