Almost from the birth of marketing and advertising, people have been trying to find ways to tune it all out.
Why? I mean, we all want useful information about things we need or want. Those selling quality products and services can and do provide such information.
The problem is: for too long they have been focused on what they want, not what their audience wants.
They developed strategies and gimmicks to get what they want. Over time these tricks have spilled into the public lexicon with terms reminiscent of a con-artist's vocabulary: prospects, enticement, bottom line, close the deal. Then there are those phrases that remind us of the role we play in this puppet show; i.e. one time only; how much would you pay? limited time offer; act now.
The New Social World
However, things have changed. While in the past people tolerated such tactics as a necessary evil of modern civilization, many of us no longer find traditional broadcast advertising necessary. In fact, as spam blocking software, TiVo and Do Not Call lists prove, we hate it so much that we will go to great lengths to remove it from our lives.
Consider that by the time many customers get around to contacting a store or website, they have researched online which is the best source, who has the best price and which product provides the best quality. No longer do they have to rely on a sales person's biased advice. More and more often, they come prepared to make a purchase based on what they have learned on their own.
Enter social media, which allows people to make recommendations about products and services to their friends (Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter) or to the public in general (Yelp! Foursquare.)
View Your Audience as Friends
The key, of course, is for marketers to stop seeing the audience as "prospects" or "consumers," and view them more as friends. Friends are people you want to help, whether it directly benefits you or not.
Establish a strong and consistent presence on the social media platforms your potential clients are using. Make sure you are providing value to that community in a way that isn't purely self-promotional. Use the #EIR strategy for social media marketing:
Engage - Participate in online conversations.
Inform - Provide information that is useful to your potential clients or customers.
Retweet - Share useful info while giving credit to the original source.
Social media marketing is not rocket science. But for many marketers it takes a drastic shift in thinking to comprehend that building relationships one at a time is an effective method for increasing revenue. Remember, every new relationship you form online is capable of connecting with hundreds or thousands more potential clients. And those who hear about you from friends are much more likely to trust that your product or service is something they want.
(Photo by tonynetone)