Communities of Interest

In my last couple of posts, I have used the term “Communities of Interest” as it relates to Social Media Marketing. This notion is the strength of Social Media. By that, a Community of Interest is a group of people that share a common interest. Because of this common interest, individuals share content that should be of interest to the entire group. If your company can develop a great number of followers, then the community of interest revolves around you.

This is the inherent weakness of Social Media Marketing. How does a business get a large number (1000s) of followers that care what it has to say? You can imagine that socially directed businesses have a great advantage here. For example, who wants to follow the mad ramblings of a business coach? I feel the best way is for me to provide educational snippets that help people to understand the value that I can bring.

One thing that I recommend is to combine the notion of Referral Marketing with Social Media Marketing. I want people to find businesses and groups that market to Communities of Interest that they want to serve. The business can connect with these potential marketing partners and offer something of value to the community. In exchange, the partner engages their marketing channels with the offer. This provides both groups with an exchange of value and the ability to promote each other.

There is additional power to this kind of activity. Social Media feeds expect advertising dollars to be used to expand the visibility of these messages. By cooperating, leverage is created, and the effect is multiplied.

I want to bring one last point to this thread. This is a case where narrow marketing is better. By narrowly targeting a message and an offer, you up the conversion rate of the offer. And by doing so in a targeted way, you spend the least money to spread a message.

Have a great day!

Jim Sackman

Focal Point Business Coaching

Business Coaching, Leadership Training, Sales Training, Strategic Planning

Change Your Business - Change Your Life!

Social Media Works for some Businesses

I had a client that had pretty good success with Social Media. This was a Children's clothing and toy manufacturer. This business was run by a couple and the wife was the person in charge of Sales and Marketing. Though most of the sales were traditionally through retail stores, the business was moving more and more online. The company had been on Facebook for about 10 years when I started working with them and they had 14,000 followers.

When I started working with the company, it was clear that much of their outbound consumer marketing was done by Facebook. They had other mechanisms that were better for the retail stores and their International Distributors. The posts broke down broadly into 4 categories: Coupons, Sales Announcements, Contests, and Product. The Product posts were mostly photos and videos sent to the company from end consumers. The Sales Announcements told followers about money off specific products, particularly seconds of specific products. Coupons were a small percentage off of orders of a given size or larger.

The Contests were the most interesting posts. These were giveaways for different photos or videos and were judged for beauty. These contests were often done in conjunction with companies that were partners or having a similar end consumer demographic. The advantage of these posts is that they could reach beyond the audience of the company itself. In my last post, I talked about forming a community of interest. This is what I mean. By posting in conjunction with like-minded sites, the reach of the post is greatly expanded. By getting the attention of people that do not follow the company, they can expand their follower base. They will have the possibility to market to these new followers in the future.

So, one of the best things you can do is find partners with a similar interest and joint market with them. In today's world, many spaces have voices that consumers follow already. If you can find those channels and offer them a proposal to engage their audience, you can find a great way to expand your presence. Unless you are working in a new space, it will be difficult to become an authority in an area for a long time. By partnering with others that have that reach that you want, you can accelerate the process.

Have a great day!

Jim Sackman

Focal Point Business Coaching

Business Coaching, Leadership Training, Sales Training, Strategic Planning

Change Your Business - Change Your Life!

Why is your Social Media Marketing Not Working?

I have had several customers and colleagues focus on Social Media Marketing. With few exceptions, these efforts have not worked. So, I want to take a few posts to look at what is going on. In some circles, Email Marketing is considered part of Social Media Marketing. I am going to ignore Email Marketing for this series. Email has its own pros and cons.

Most companies get involved in Social Media Marketing because they think it is necessary and inexpensive. What we really have is a fragmented set of services that are read by different audiences for different purposes. This method of Marketing is so poorly understood that it makes it very difficult to have an effective conversation about it. I want to start with classifying Marketing activities into some broad categories and talk about Social Media for them. I want to remind everyone that these channels are now heavily utilized and crowded with advertisers.

I will start this by examining Audience Creation. This is the use of Marketing techniques to let the market be aware of your existence. This is not normally done through Social Media, but I will give an example where this worked. The example is Dollar Shave Club. At this point, you may be aware of this Brand through its TV advertising. Dollar Shave Club started by advertising (aka sponsoring) some well know YouTube Channels. This was very inexpensive for the market reach at the time. The bulk of this channel came from a younger demographic and the Dollar Shave Club message of insurgency resonated very well with this audience.

On the other hand, Facebook does not even let every one of your followers know about a new post unless you “boost” a post. This means that audience reach on Facebook can be very limited unless you are willing to expend a significant amount of money. For that, you get your post placed into news feeds. This is like many other channels like LinkedIn or YouTube. Essentially, this is a shotgun into a demographic. It is not clear that your ad will be viewed, just potentially viewed.

Reputation Management sites (Yelp!, Angie’s List, etc.) are not directly aimed at broad audience creation. If your services are searched for on one of these sites, high ratings can get you more jobs. But you won’t see your company name show up in front of people otherwise.

And that is one of the challenges here. Social Media is not really a broad-based tool for Audience Creation. As we go using Social Media, you will see an ongoing conversation about the more targeted approach that suits Social Media more. This means effective use of Social Media will be around communities of interest.

Have a great day!

Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
Business Coaching, Leadership Training, Sales Training, Strategic Planning
Change Your Business – Change Your Life!

Who are Your Customers and What do They Want?

 

These are the quintessential Marketing questions.  We have talked about us and what we want (as a Business) through our Vision, Mission, and Values (VMV).  What we want to do now is to connect the VMV to our customers.  To be able to do so, we need to closely define who these people are.  That is what we are going to talk about here.

This is not a passing exercise and one that needs to be considered with some importance.  What is most important to consider is what makes you special to your customer base.  This means that we look at what the Value that they place on the business relationship with you actually is.  To do this, we need to explore the customer and the problems that you are solving for them.

The important part here is the alignment between what you view as your Mission Statement and the Customer view of their Problem Statement.  If it is not your Mission to solve their Problem, then in the long term they will no longer be Customers.  This is why your Unique Value Proposition (UVP) is so important to your Marketing.  The goal is to articulate the range of problems that you solve.  The biggest single problem is that most business owners want to embrace a large set of problems that they can solve.  By being broad, they reason that they will get more customers.  The truth is that they are likely to attract more prospects that are not great customers for them.

Suppose you move to a new town and need to get your car fixed.  Let us add that this car is an older Volkswagen.  You do a search for Volkswagen Auto Repair, you might be surprised.  In my local search, I found VW dealers and local shops that specialize in VW repairs.  I also found several websites that recommend VW repair shops.  This happens in all businesses.  By having a very broad message, there are times when this works (for example Grocery Stores).  But most businesses, actually specialize.  If you do not tell people what you are particularly good at, then they will likely select someone who specializes in fixing their Problem.

Because that is what customers do, they fix their problem.  The look for solutions to what they want.  They do not look for what you want to sell.

Have a great weekend!

Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
Business Coaching, Leadership Training, Sales Training, Strategic Planning


Change Your Business - Change Your Life!
 

 

Time and Networking

Networking and Referral Marketing are two keys strategies for most small businesses. Not everybody uses these strategies, but most do. Whether they are going to a Business Networking International (BNI) lead referral group or to the local Chamber of Commerce, these activities are common. There is a good reason. Referrals bring in what are relatively high quality, warm leads. The person you are going to speak to has most often agreed to talk to you explicitly. They have expressed an interest in the type of service or product that you are offering. They have an immediate or near-term need. So, close rates are high and stress is low.

The challenge is that few people look at the amount of time and energy to actually get a referral. Now there are some systems like Yelp! that can "help" with that. But generally, people only refer businesses that they have experience with or know something about. They don't want their customer or friend to have a bad experience with the referral. So you have to build trust to be able to get quality referrals.

All of this takes time. So, you need to analyze is going to be a good partner for you to work with and why they might refer business your way. When you look at it critically, it breaks down into two categories: Prospects and Customer or People who sell to the same people you do. Those are the core groups of people who are likely to know multiple people that you are going to be trying to reach out to.

Please note the "multiple" in that sentence. You could spend an hour cold calling to get an appointment. It will take more time than that to build the kind of trust relationship that I am talking about. That means you need to expect more than one referral. If you have set up a formal customer referral plan, you can get away with just one. But even then, you would like to become a chain of referrals from that one place. It will not always be so but you need to find those places to maximize your time.

Finally, there is the need to find a real partner. Many people are happy to enter referral relationships where they receive the benefit of the referrals. The challenge is to find people that will reciprocate. Where can the two of you look like a bigger company together and foster an abundance of business? So be thoughtful about the partner and think about how you can be helping them. Not everyone will fit and that is okay. Think about who might be a good fit and talk to them. The conversation will help you know about who is interested in actually partnering. There is no point in spending time trying to cultivate a partner who is not going to be work with you.

Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
Business Coaching, Executive Training, Sales Training, Marketing

Change Your Business - Change Your Life!

Visit the FocalPoint Norcal Forum - We have many tools for helping your Business!

 

Small Businesses, Product Marketing, and Sales

Over the past couple of years, I have done a significant amount of Sales Training in Smaller Businesses. This process has been greatly rewarding but I want to write today about a function that is often missing from smaller companies. That function is Product Marketing.

Most smaller organizations are very thoughtful about Audience Development and Lead Generation. These are the parts of Marketing that get people in the front door. The chief Salesman/Saleswoman at that point is the Business Owner themselves. They close deals and the business grows. The problem comes in with scale. They need to hire people to close more Sales than they can do themselves. Business Growth puts more pressure on their time and they need to solve the problem by hiring others to make Sales.

Most businesses struggle with this first step. They look outside for someone with Sales experience. They particularly look for someone from their own industry. The person comes in and often struggles. There are lots of reasons for this revolving around the Sales process, but one of the biggest ones is the lack of Product Marketing.

So, let me define Product Marketing in this context. Each lead that comes to the business is part of a sub-market for that business. Very few businesses (and fewer small ones) have a homogeneous set of prospects and customers. That means that the Products and Services of the business fill a slightly different niche for all of those sub-groups. And it is here that Product Marketing comes in. It is the ability to translate the broader message of the company into more targeted messages based on these sub-categories. The whole point of Sales is to take this broad message and translate it to the specific customer. The idea here is to package these solutions for Sales.

And that right there is the point. Often times I see companies that expect their Sales team to find their own path instead of helping them along to be productive. That means that the person will be hit or miss instead of a win for the business owner. Think about this, you spent the time and money to search for this new Sales person. You want them to succeed to make your Business grow. And then to let them sink or swim on their own just means that you might have wasted your investment. By providing that skeleton of support, you can turn what a problem into a great hire. It will help you grow and hire even more Sales people.

Much of this is true for all employees, but depending upon a Sales person that is hit or miss is a great way to stifle your business growth. So, take some time think about Product Marketing and make this work!

Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
Business Coaching, Executive Training, Sales Training, Marketing

Change Your Business - Change Your Life!

Visit the FocalPoint Norcal Forum - We have many tools for helping your Business!