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From Instagram Prospects to Customers

By Bill Raymond

This is a special guest post by my Dad, Bill Raymond! He has decades of experience as a sales and marketing expert, and will be popping on here from time to time with his wisdom! I like to think I got my marketing chops from my Pops!

Father and daughter wine tasting in Napa
My dad and I last year on a family trip to Napa

The goal of using Instagram to market your products or services is ultimately to sell them. People often use the terms “marketing” and “sales” interchangeably, but they are distinctly different.

Marketing is the presenting of the features and benefits of what you offer to expose them to the marketplace. The hope is that potential customers will connect their needs with your offering. While many people will buy as a result of merely becoming aware of a product (often true of low-cost consumer items) or service, many people need to internalize that a purchase truly makes sense in terms of whether or not it will solve a specific need they have at a price that is reasonable. Often salespeople just “market” their products or services via a features and benefits presentation. Most potential customers see this as a sales “pitch”. It does little to develop a sense of trust.

Selling is helping a customer understand whether or not what you offer will work for their specific circumstances. They may not know or have thought thoroughly about what they really need. It is up to the person doing the selling to help them discover (versus told) what they really need and whether or not it makes sense for them to make the purchase.

While this sounds a little complex, with practice, this can become a natural part of your conversation with your customers. If what you offer involves significant investment on your customer’s part, you will greatly improve your likelihood of success if you do this.


To clarify how this works, let’s use the example of a restaurant you own. Let’s further assume that you need to attract wedding receptions and other catered affairs (both inside and outside of the restaurant) to make the restaurant adequately profitable.

An Instagram posting creates awareness that you exist and offer these services and may include pictures of the facilities to convey the ambiance of your facilities. Problem; there are lots of other restaurants that would also like to attract exactly the same set of customers. So, why should the customer choose yours? You need to differentiate your offering from those competitors by selling to those needs.

The best way to compete with similar products or services is to understand what is truly important to each customer. And, the best way to do that is to talk with them directly, not to tell them how great your restaurant is, but to ask them what is important to them for this event. So, while the restaurant (and even the customer) might think it is all about ambiance or food selection, the right set of questions might reveal to both of you there are important additional factors neither one of you had actually thought about.

So, in response to the question “What things are really important to you for this event? The customer might respond “ambiance” or “bar service”; they might also say:

“I hate it when the food arrived lukewarm for everyone when it was served.”

“Not waiting in line at the bar”

“Multiple gluten-free offerings”

“When I went to a recent event, it took us 15 minutes to find parking.”

The question is, what are you willing to do to address those needs to tip things in your favor to win the sale?

If they don’t mention these things, you could stimulate a response by asking about their experiences at catered events and what they did and did not like about the ones they attended.

Knowing these preferences can easily tip the scale in your favor. Not just because you can choose to provide them, but because when you do, you demonstrate your desire to make the event perfect for them.

In summary, you can greatly increase your sales success rate if you take the time to help the customer thoroughly understand their real needs and what you offer to address them. And, as you discover some of these hidden desires of potential customers, your next Instagram should include how your company addresses these newly learned needs.


Want more info about Instagram? Check out my latest book, Instagram for Dummies, 2nd edition available on Amazon.

If you'd like help with Reels, my ebook, How to Create Reels that Convert is for you!


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