Marketing in the current environment needs to focus on what is happening in the moment—old traditional marketing is stale —you have to be talking where people are listening, although social media is not a place for “selling” it is a place to talk to people about what you are offering and when and how—many people now ask their Facebook friends for thoughts on where to eat, where to vacation and what brand of something to buy—anyone with a smart phone is immediately dialed in to their personal network of friends.
A website is essential for your business to operate in this economy and you better have a good site, one that has the ability to interact with your target audience. Video of real people using your product or service is a great, authentic way to market yourself. Video of customer testimonials is also a worthy marketing tool as are good facebook posts about your company or positive tweets.
The best way to recruit customers is with other customers.
Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks says, “The rules of engagement in traditional marketing are over. Whether you are creating a brand, building a brand, or running a big one, you’d better understand social media, because there is a seismic shift in how people are gaining access to information and, as a result how they are behaving.” http://www.amazon.com/Howard-Schultz/e/B000APBK72
No longer can we disseminate information down to the customer or consumer, we now have to approach them from an equal platform sharing information with them and making them feel included. People naturally want to be ‘in relationship’; they want to be a part of something…social media allows an opportunity for this to happen. It allows a company to create a collection of enthusiasts for their product or service by conducting an ongoing relationship with them.
One concern with social media is allowing employees of your company to interact about your company on social media outlets—the fear here is about controlling ‘message’ and not knowing what an employee may or may not say about company culture or company practices. Here’s an important point: if you are running your company the way it should be run and treating customers and employees the way that they should be treated then you have nothing to fear. If your employees are happy and you have your pulse on what is happening in your business then you won’t get any surprises. The companies and people that fear social media as a way to market are the ones with something to hide. I’m not saying that you will never get an unexpected derogatory post, however if you are doing it right the sporadic unfavorable post will be easy to resolve.
Culture is the next big playing field and Jeff Bezos (http://www.csmonitor.com/Books/chapter-and-verse/2012/1119/Amazon-s-Jeff-Bezos-as-Businessperson-of-the-Year-Can-the-book-world-learn-from-him) understands this which is one of the reasons he paid so much money to purchase Zappos (http://mashable.com/2009/07/22/amazon-bought-zappos/ ). Zappos has created an incredible culture both within the company and with its customers. You know that you have an incredible customer experience when people will pay you more money for a product or service that someone else is selling for less. This was the case with Zappos and Amazon, Zappos was outselling Amazon in some non-footwear categories that Amazon was priced less in. This kind of consumer behavior is indicative of a company that creates an incredible customer experience and with all the ‘noise’ and competition that is out there in the marketplace today only companies that are creating a culture that results in this kind of experience will be winning. Zappos is that kind of company and Jeff Bezos being the visionary that he is recognized that and was willing to pay a high price to have it.
A perfect blend is to use traditional media and social media to keep the conversation going with potential and existing customers and clients. A smart use of marketing dollars is to create ads in traditional media that require some jump to social media to deliver the complete message.