“Who’s This Guy?”: Bridging Social Status Gaps in 1-to-1 Outreach

There’s an old African proverb that says, “The lion does not turn around when a small dog barks.” That proverb points to a common obstacle in 1-to-1 marketing outreach: Differences—real or perceived—in social status between the person or entity doing the outreach and the recipient of the outreach.  There are many different types of relationships in business and social status can complicate your attempts to grow all of them.

Factors in social status

The success of your 1-to-1 marketing outreach is likely to be affected by how the recipient of your outreach perceives your social status compared to their own.  In general, it’s more challenging for a sales representative to initiate a relationship with the president of a company than vice versa.  But even if you’re close in rank to the recipient of your marketing outreach, that person still might consider himself or herself to have a higher social status, by virtue of a title, for example.

“The CFO does not turn around when an Assistant Vice President barks.”

There’s also the relative status of your company versus theirs to take into consideration. A sales rep at a large company may be perceived as having greater social status than a similar sales rep at a smaller, no-name company.

Demographic factors also sometimes play a part in perceived status differences.  An older person with a long tenure in a company might perceive themselves as having greater status than a younger person with less experience, even if the two of them occupy similar positions on the org charts.  And as much as we might wish it weren’t the case, gender can sometimes affect perceptions of status too.

The very dynamic between the pursuer and the one who is pursued creates a social status gap.  Think of it this way: Who usually has the higher social status—the supermodel, or the average Joe who’d like to date her? A company everyone wants to do business with, one that can pick and choose its business partners, occupies higher ground than those who are coming to them hat in hand, hoping to be chosen.

Bridging the social status gap

With all this to consider, what are the chances that your 1-to-1 marketing outreach will be successful?  Still pretty good—if you refer back to the basic rules that apply to building all other human relationships.

  • Make it personal – Icebreakers and rapport-building techniques can be used to uncover commonalities you share with the person you’re trying to reach out to. Even if the status gap seems like a chasm, find out what you share: Did you attend the same college?  Do you belong to the same church or community service organization?

Use the information available to you—whether it’s a social media profile, a news article, or tidbits you learn from a mutual acquaintance—to find something about that person that transcends the status gap and use it to connect with them.

  • Got a friend? – If there are no readily available commonalities, try leveraging your other relationships. Do you know some of the same people? If you do, a third-party introduction can go a long way toward building your credibility and erasing status differences.

Gaps in social status can definitely pose a challenge for your 1-to-1 marketing outreach, but with the right techniques, they can be overcome.  If you’re looking for creative ways to bridge the gap and build successful relationships using 1-to-1 marketing, give us a call.