marketing strategy

Choosing A Social Media Marketing Specialist

Do you think spending a couple of hundred bucks on your social media strategy is all that it takes to create the necessary engagement and depth of trust with potential clients and customers, as well as reach a broad audience? No way, Jose! (If you can’t afford more than that, I get it. I have experienced bootstrapping first-hand, and this post is not directed at you.) If, however, you can afford to spend more, but choose not to because you’re thinking “hey, these days anyone can throw some posts up on your Twitter or Facebook account”, let me just stop you right there! Yes, it’s true that your 14 year old nephew can use a mobile app on his phone to create a graphic that can be shared on Instagram or Pinterest and that you can buy clicks and likes for a few bucks any day of the week, but will using a person or a company that doesn’t have the depth of experience or the ability to customize an approach to your specific business really make you money? I don’t think so. You may as well not have a SM presence at all. And a lot of people chose not to. Sadly, those same people are missing out on a ton of sales.

My thing is, if you own a business and want to stay relevant, connect with customers and make sales, you cannot ignore social media, and by extension, unless you have the time and energy to run your Social Media efforts yourself, your absolute best bet is to plan to use and SM specialist to help you and budget accordingly.

Pay careful attention to that last word. “Specialist.” A specialist is a person who focuses on and is an expert on a particular subject or activity; a person highly skilled in a specific and restricted field. My focus is to build relationships with customers on a client’s behalf. In Social Media terms, we call that “creating engagement.”

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but right now, marketing is ALL about engagement. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. People buy from other people or companies they trust. Trust takes time. It takes conversation. It takes active listening – for your sake and that of the customer. Becoming *PERSONALLY* familiar with your business and the customers you serve is my job. Knowing just the right questions to ask is also my job. Both skills need to be present and well-honed in order to create and customize content for the right kind of engagement.

So yeah, if you’ve got the budget for marketing, but are choosing not to spend it on experts, you may want to reconsider. I like a deal as much as the next girl, but in this instance the cliche applies – you get what you pay for.

Remember that communication is key in building relationships. It’s absolutely a necessity to start and continue conversations on your social media platforms to start adding to your business’ trust account. Without that engagement, you will be losing customers to your Social Media savvy competitors every day of the week.

“When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective.”
Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

Who’s the Hero? NOT You!

Well hello fellow Social Mediaites.  I just made that up – feel free to make it your own.

Today is NOT about you.  Neither was yesterday, but yesterday you didn’t know it yet – so starting today – it is no longer about you.  What the HELL is this woman talking about??

I’m talking about how you market to your clients.  I’ve stated it many times before – your relationship with your clients is….. ???  That’s RIGHT!  It’s a relationship.  Think back to one of your worst dates ever.  You know – where the guy/gal on the other end of the table was all like, “me me this, and me me that, oh and also there was this one time where I, I , I and me me me …….” And oh. my. GOD will the endless droning ever stop??

Well it did stop and I hope you never called him/her back because they need a wake up call.  Maybe a wake up call a little like this one.  Your business as a marketing professional should not start and end with you.  Should you be mentioned?  Absolutely.  Not to do so would be equally asinine.  While your current pitch to get Social Media work might sound a little like this:

“I’m a marketing professional that has worked with the likes of ___(fill in the blank)____.  I took over his marketing efforts in June of 2010 and have single handedly grown his business 10-fold.”

When it should sound more like this:

“As a marketing professional, I was given the opportunity to work with ___(fill in the blank)____.  In 12 months time, his business grew 10-fold. If you’re interested, I can walk you through the steps he followed to make that happen.”

It’s amazing what results come from someone who really knows what they’re talking about – with a side of humility. Give your client their due – it’ll come back in your favor every time.

Effective Social Media Marketing Part III (Final)

Using Social Media for Research

Your audience is  your best shot at cost effective research.  Cost effective and small business go hand in hand.  We have to keep up on what works as well as what fits our budget.  That being said, all of us like to be heard.  We all want to know that our opinion is of some value.  Even many larger companies are discovering that valuing your audience’s opinion is a better solution than spending millions of dollars on marketing campaigns.

Maybe it’s been a while since your store has started selling a new brand or a new item plus you’ve also seen that traffic through  your store has started to slack a bit.  Maybe you’re a business that realizes that staying one step ahead of the game is in your best interest – which I hope is the case.  Either way, let your customers know it’s not all about you.  You’re interested in what their wants and needs are.  This is the key to any relationship, be it professional or personal… not just the knowledge of, but the willingness to take action on needs and wants.

According to [Social Media Examiner][Air Tran Airways] “posed the query via a clever website which asked one productive and meaningful question of the audience members: ‘What do you think should be on every AirTran flight?’”  “The response and feedback from fans was gangbusters and quite creative! After several weeks, the message was clear from all of the ballots submitted online. The audience wanted Wi-Fi on every flight. AirTran asked the right question, collected the data and delivered upon that request. Wi-Fi is now an option on every AirTran flight!”

Another example is how [Vitamin Water] crowdsourced a new drink flavor.  You can find the whole story [here].

It could be a simple question about how you can improve a current product.  It may be the aforementioned question run as a contest.  Winner wins  $20 in free merch from your company every month for a year.  Be creative.  Make it something that your fan base wants to share with their friends.  The more creative minds put together, the better!

Effective SMM Strategy Part II

Watch For Trends

 

So now that branding is out of the way (see here), another integral part of an effective social media strategy is to make sure you’re monitoring trends that happen with your end users.  Why is that important?  Well, as previously mentioned, my specialty is in working with small businesses.  In the ocean of the business world – small businesses are the dinghies.  The Fortune 500 companies have seemingly limitless resources (people included) at their fingertips.  They’re more like the freight liners and can keep trucking through those seas through even the biggest storms. Often they won’t even realize they’ve hit a wave, let alone been in a storm.  To a small business, that same storm may mean your poor little dinghy is toast and there you are, left floating in the ocean with (maybe) a lifesaver, praying for someone to come rescue you.

That illustration is exactly why you need to prepare.  Your goal as a small business is to stay one step ahead of the storm.  If you see that times are tough(financially) for your clients, it may be time to consider other inventory options that are still quality, but more cost effective for you – and your client.  If you ignore the trend, chances are – you’re going to end up with expensive inventory just sitting on your shelves that you’re going to have to discount anyway.  Win for your consumer – lose for you.

Other things you’ll want to pay close attention to:  Cultural happenings.  Maybe your business supports the Indiana HJR-6 amendment or maybe it opposes it.  You have the choice of making your opinion known or staying neutral on the matter.  If you’re vocal either way, it’s likely to have an impact on your business.  It also may produce or take away service or merchandise opportunities – both of which are very important to your business.

In this case, the above mentioned goes hand in hand with what’s next – and that is government changes or potential changes.  It seems there’s nothing we like to complain about more than our government.  Everyone has an opinion – regardless of whether they voice it or not.  Truth is though – a good majority have no qualms about telling it how it is when it comes to government related issues.  Keep an eye out for that.  It could be tax changes, a lawsuit that will have an impact on how your company does business, increase in minimum wage (is any of this sounding familiar?)

So how do you keep track of what’s trending?  I’m happy you asked.  I’m even happier that someone else has done the work of tracking down all these tools for me!  Shout out to Social Media Today for making my work today a little easier.

[Click Here] to find your list of tools.  Use them.  That’s what they’re for. :-)

Effective SMM Strategy Part I

Promote your brand

As a business, your social media strategy can and should be customized for you.  However, there are a few tips that blanket most businesses.  This blog is the first in a multi-part series about effective social media marketing.

First, let’s start with the definition of brand.  [Entrepreneur.com] defines branding as this:  “The marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products.”

Having said that, if you’re trying to build your brand, starting with something visual like a name, logo or design, it goes without saying that that symbol needs to be consistent through all of your marketing.  Social media is no exception.  If your twitter handle is @MakeMeLaugh, that should be your handle across social media as well – or as close to it as possible.  The interwebs have done their part to make it easier on you too.  Wasn’t that nice of them?  Check out www.knowem.com.  You simply type in the handle you want to use, universally, across all social media platforms and it tells you at which ones it’s available.

Promoting your brand is also about good PR.  Yes, PR happens via social media now too – although not exclusively of course.  What do I mean?  Your company should be a tool (not the urban dictionary definition) to their audience.  Your social media should provide valuable information, it should entertain and it should be engaging.  Ineffective social media involves doing posts and walking away from your computer.  If your audience has questions, answer them.  If they have a problem with your product, resolve it.  Make them laugh, make them cry.  Make them love you.  In return, they’ll develop trust in not just you, but in your product or service.

Finally, follow yourself.  No, I don’t mean chase your own tail.  What I mean is that you want to know what your public is saying about your brand.  If there are issues, you absolutely need to know about them and should want to fix them.  Also, your following knows what they want from you.  You never  know what ideas they could be posting for you that you’ll miss if you’re not tracking what people are saying about you.  There are multiple free resources out there that do the tracking for you for free.  [Trackur] is just one.  Do your research and see which works best for your company.

Stay tuned for part II!!  See you soon!

 

I Have to Choose between Email and Social Media? … No.

I’ve heard some marketing gurus say that email is soon going to be the dead language of the marketing world.  I say something different.  Language doesn’t die if you know how to keep it alive, so keep email alive, we shall.

Marketing via email and marketing via social media typically reaches two very different audiences.  However, there is absolutely some overlap.  In fact, there’s quite a bit of overlap.

As with any post, any blog, any newsletter, you absolutely MUST keep your audience in mind.  Just because it’s interesting to you doesn’t mean it will be to the people who’ve requested to follow your business… so here’s the plan:

Your first goal is to get your email newsletter list compiled.  Your subject matter needs to be something that is so compelling… So inspiring… So shocking (in good taste of course)… that your audience can’t help but forward it.  Here’s the thing though – you also need to provide a way for your audience that uses both social media AND email to share the story – EASILY.  Humans – we’re such a lazy group! Give us an “easy” button and we’re set.  Make us save a picture to our hard drive, find said picture, upload it to Facebook – then post it… and we’re spent for the day.  So we’d rather just not.  Provide us a button.  Approve.  There it is!  And like magic – more followers.  And you look all the more genius for it.

Looks like you’ve got some writing… or research… or editing to do.  I’ll leave you to it then.

Content Marketing Isn’t Part of your Marketing Strategy??

What’s this “content marketing” catch phrase you keep hearing about?  It’s one of your most powerful marketing tools.  That’s what it is.  If it’s not part of your marketing strategy, it’s time to reevaluate!

Content marketing is essentially selling your brand without (directly) selling your product.  How in the world could that possibly prove to be useful?  Theory is – make your customers smarter and they reward you with their business.  When you take a minute to think it through, it makes all the sense in the world.

Example:  Let’s say you’re a single parent with two young children.  As a single parent, chances are – pizza is one of your go-to dinners. Pizza Joint knows this.  They also know you’re likely looking for things to keep the kiddos occupied over the weekend, but you don’t want to fill their mind with drivel on the television.  Once a day or once every other day, Pizza Joint lets you know about events that are happening in your community that also benefit your family.  Their name is far more likely to be at the top of your list next time it’s pizza time.  Make sense?

A direct sell every so often isn’t a punishable offense, but it’s also not usually the best way to promote via digital media.  Make sure your content is relevant as well as current.

You have an audience to reach.  What’s keeping you?