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More pull, less push
Social media leverages the possibilities of pull marketing. The old world was based on push tactics like telemarketing and cold calls. The new world embraces the idea that if you have some information that the potential customer finds helpful to him or her in their professional lives, they will want to hear more from you, and opt in to do so. This helps a company build credibility with prospective customers. And this, in turn, increases the likelihood that they will turn to you when they have a requirement for products or services that you offer.
Social media gives the customer a voice
In 2007, a Nielsen survey on behalf of Constant Contact found that 14% of people trusted advertising, while 78% trusted recommendations from a friend. The explosion of social media has given every potential customer a place to be heard. Your customers have a place to find out who their peers recommend and who they think should be avoided. As social networks evolve, the ability of individual users to get their own message out about you, and the speed at which they they will be able to do so, will only increase. Companies will have one opportunity to do it right – the first time.
Social media leverages the power of 5-95
Traditional sales dogma dictates that you cold call and search for customers who are “in the market” for your product and service. And then, following up with a sales call that focuses on your edge in features and services. A tremendous amount of a sales person’s time is required just to find the five percent. Social media marketing turns this concept upside down by saying "Let's develop a relationship with the other ninety-five percent. We will build credibility with them based on sharing our knowledge on topics that will help them in their day to day work lives." In this manner, when the ninety-five percent is ready to be "in the market", the odds are good that they will give you an opportunity as a trusted resource. And that is all I want: an opportunity.
Social media can turn the sales process on its head
Intelligent use of social media can be the difference between figuring out how to get your foot in the door to having the potential customer open the door and welcome you in. Instead of finding the customers, they are finding you; in effect saying "Maybe you can help me, you're an expert in this sort of thing." There will need to be a tighter integration of sales and marketing in order to make this work smoothly.
There is a right way and a wrong way
While the principles of social media marketing are fairly straightforward, this is a machine with a lot of moving parts. The right things need to be done in the right order or your SMM efforts can wind up being a wasted expense instead of a wise investment. The web is littered with abandoned blogs, vacuous Twitter campaigns and lame Facebook posts. Which brings up...
Focus and clarity
Twenty years ago, I was a sales manager, and our company’s COO would repeat over and over: focus and clarity. He was always after me saying "Be absolutely clear what the single thing is that's most important, and focus in on that single thing. Focus and clarity." And he was right. Many times, when I have found myself not getting the results, I have found that it was because I had strayed from my my primary objective. With social media marketing, it is very easy to stray off your intended path and get what have been called "random acts of marketing". Always keep your goals and your purpose smack dab in front of you.
Bruce Johnston is a sales consultant specializing in Social Media and especially LinkedIn. He has 30 years experience in high tech sales and management. He can be reached at email@example.com or through his profile on LinkedIn.