Given the number of social networks, one of the challenges for SMB-focused Alignable has been to justify its existence. In an effort to do just that, the company has introduced the concept of “connection marketing.”
I spoke with Alignable CMO Dan Slagen to learn more about this new concept and how the company plans to reinforce it moving forward:
What exactly is “connection marketing” and is this really something new?
Connection marketing is the opportunity to leverage relationships to grow your business via networking, word of mouth and referrals. The concepts of networking, word of mouth and referrals are not new, and in fact are all existing proven methods of marketing and revenue generation for business owners. Connection marketing brings these three things together in one place, makes them more efficient and allows business owners to manage their efforts in one place.
How is connection marketing different on Alignable vs. using existing tools such as Facebook or LinkedIn? And why in your view have these major sites become less effective for SMBs?
Alignable was built specifically for strategic and efficient networking, exclusively amongst business owners. In addition, the majority of networking that happens on Alignable is hyper-localized within a few miles. Users can connect with each other based on specific needs like co-promotions, target customer markets, informational needs and referrals. The larger networks weren’t built exclusively for business owners but rather for broader groups of people. Alignable is 100% dedicated to connecting business owners together in order to help them grow their businesses together. No other network can say that, or is being built to that vision.
How will trusted referrals among local business owners ultimately translate into more consumer business? (assuming the biz owner isn’t a B2B marketer)
In a few different ways:
- Customer Referrals: If two business owners that each target the same customer target market connect on Alignable, then they’ll be able to refer their existing customers to each other when the time is right. The customer will be thrilled because they’re getting introduced to a trusted business (for instance I would love to be introduced to a trustworthy washer/dryer repair company right now), and the businesses benefit from the new customer/lead.
- Co-promotion Referrals: Business owners meet on Alignable by finding each other directly or by being introduced by a mutual connection. They can then decide to co-promote or partner on a project, for instance the tennis coach who partnered with the nail salon on a shared offering because they were both targeting women aged 45-50.
- Informational Referrals: Business owners have questions, and the best answers to those questions come from other business owners, not sales teams. For instance, if a business owner is deciding between Mailchimp and Constant Contact, they want to hear from a fellow business owner (preferably in their industry) who has used one or the other and can speak to the pros and cons. Making the right decision saves valuable time and money. Business owners are happy to help each other out because they’ve been there, have a genuine interest in seeing small/local business continue to succeed and will need help themselves in the future, so there’s a “the more you give the more you get” mindset.
You guys have been collecting NPS data on various SMB marketing services vendors. Beyond exposing it generally what more do you intend to do with the data?
Right now we’ll continue to build out the SMB Trust Index (look for a bunch of new brands at the end of this quarter). In addition, our brand pages, reviews and ratings will become more robust as build out those pages and user experiences. Finally, our report last quarter received a tremendous response so we’ll look to go more in depth in our next review.
What is the optimal use of Alignable by a local business owner? What can they expect to “do” on the site? How do they get the most value from the site?
The optimal use is for a business owner to join, build a beautiful profile, showcase their recommendations (both received and given), and then to start engaging in the community ultimately to receive referrals (networking >>> WOM >>> referrals). They can engage by:
- Engage in Q+A by answering and asking questions
- Post their promotions and social media activity
- Post content and updates specific to their business
- Connect with other businesses owners in town to stay stop of mind and increase awareness
- Meet other business owners to network and share referral opportunities (both for them and businesses in their network)
- While all of this is happening, business owners are building a trusted network of peers