Do you know about the new mindset in business marketing? You have probably read about social media marketing — marketing that focuses on social networks, places like our favorite Squidoo and hundreds of others. I’ve been fascinated by social media marketing. In my research, I’ve trained with social marketing groups, read online articles, and reviewed business books by social marketing gurus, like Paul Gillin, Joel Comm, and Simon Ford. What have I learned? Social marketing is a crucial element to your business success.
Traditional Marketing is a one-way street.
Traditional marketing follows a linear path. Product information is given from the business to the customer. It flows in one direction. While a business may be lucky to get word-of-mouth sales, the bulk of information concentrates on this business-to-consumer path.
Companies focus their branding and products, so that consumers know exactly what their product is about and where to purchase it. Whether your business is big or small, you need solid branding and a product launch that attracts customers. But, a different type of marketing is necessary for your business success.
New marketing is global.
In today’s world of the internet, the global community is your neighborhood. You can reach people all over the world by Skype, social platforms, websites, and emails; all of which turn your business into a 24-hour, easily accessible operation. Consumers are able to purchase goods and services from a worldwide supply. Choices seem limitless. How can you compete with all these unknown competitors? It’s not about screaming the loudest.
While marketing traditionally uses the fear factor (see Chef Keem and Drifter’s post on The Two Most Effective Marketing Tricks in History), businesses now find consumers in larger roles. Consumers have more control because they can discuss their opinions through blogs, instant messaging, social networks, and citizen journalism. Marketing becomes a dialogue between business and consumers. Sales boil down to trust. Do they trust you enough to buy your latest product?
Let customers test-drive your product.
Do you remember the viral video on Diet Coke and Mentos geysers? The experiments, started by Fritz Grobe and Stephen Voltz, caught the attention of millions of people, including the Coca Cola company. They were not happy to see their product being used in a seemingly frivolous video. However, their marketing department quickly realized consumers were happy, and more importantly, they were purchasing Coke’s product to create their own geyser experiments. Was this part of their original marketing plan? No, but they were smart enough to let customers jump in the driver’s seat.
If you start a dialogue with your customers, you also must let go of some control of your product or service. This is a scary aspect for most business owners, who calculate every avenue to a product launch. This continuous conversation is social networking, and it allows business owners to find out what works, and what doesn’t, directly from their customers. Like Coca Cola, you may find that your customers are using your product differently than your original vision. You can use the information to branch into another direction.
Social networking expands your business.
Consumers want reliable products from people they trust. Sure, you can woo them with flashy ads, but they won’t continue to buy based on a single ad. Business owners realize that the best customers are regular customers. Smart owners are using social networking to deepen the relationship between business and consumers.
Introduce your product or service on Squidoo. Visit SquidU, find friends, and join others’ fan clubs. You’re not looking for mass-friending. Social networking is about quality relationships – trust and transparency at its core.
Is this the fastest way to market? No, but you’re not in this for the quick buck. If you’re smart, you want long-term relationships with your customers – and social networking builds relationships. If your friends trust you, they’ll buy from you. You’ll gain happy, regular customers, who will tell others about you.
Your sales will increase in an organic branching, rather than a forced road. Sales are built on trust, and they have deeper roots. As a consumer, wouldn’t you rather buy from a trusted friend than someone you know nothing about?
Since it’s easy to find most any product available on the internet, customers also want the best deal. They are more likely to buy, and continue to buy, from a trusted friend, who sells reliable products and services.
As a business owner, are you a trusted friend? Social marketing is the way to create relationships with your customers.
Go on, now. Make friends and build your business.
Image courtesy of mermaid99. Thank you.