Stop Selling and Start Interacting Part 2 – Click: Connect With Customers Online

Monday, August 13th, 2012

 

By Donna Geary

Donna Geary

Today is an exciting day for my new favorite marketing and social media guru and author Scott Stratten.
Today marks the launch of his new book, The Book of Business Awesome. Flip it over and there’s another book, The Book of Business Un- Awesome, filled with stories of corporate trainwrecks. I’ve been following Scott a lot lately because he gets what is going on with brands, with retailers, and with consumers in this new world of “UnMarketing” – which, by the way, is the title of his company and his first book.

While this article is not meant to be a plug for Scott or a book review, I am opening with it because he knows something you need to know: Web 2.0 has changed the way consumers shop. Forever. Gone are the days when producers and retailers “pushed” products to consumers.

Pull Marketing

The shift to pull marketing – where consumersare in control of the experience – has happened gradually over the past decade and exponentially with the proliferation of social media communities and conversations via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Digg, StumbleUpon, blogs, and more recently Foursquare, Pinterest, and on and on…

My last article shared some stats on social
media use that bear repeating:
• Roughly 8 million Canadians use Facebook
• In 2011, YouTube had more than 1 trillion views, or almost 140 views for every person on Earth!
• Twitter, the micro blogging tool, has grown from less than 1 per cent Canadian use in 2009 to more than 20 per cent in 2011.

You cannot ignore this shift from Push to Pull, nor can you fight it. It’s time to stop!

Stop!

•Talking
• Promoting Stuff
• Being “Salesy”

Start!

• Listening
• Engaging in Conversations
• Being “UnSalesy”

Here’s Why: A FedEx Case Study
You might be one of over 8 million viewers of a recent YouTube video posted by a FedEx customer who caught, on tape, a FedEx employee “delivering” his new computer monitor by casually tossing it over the gate of his home. It doesn’t matter that the guy was home or that the front door was even open. Tapes don’t lie and anyone can upload a video and share it with the world in a matter of minutes.

With marketing taglines like “We Live to Deliver” and “Relax. It’s FedEx,” the goliath $40 billion logistics product-handler had some ‘splainin’ to do!

This story is one of many that could have hit the train-wreck pages in Scott’s UnAwesome flipbook, but it didn’t. Here’s why:
1) FedEx was listening.
2) FedEx responded and engaged with consumers by posting their own YouTube video in which they apologized, and…
3) The company stated their plan so that this type of bad customer experience will NEVER happen again. How “UnSalesy” is that?

The results? According to social media blogger Mack Collier, the consumer feedback on FedEx’s YouTube response was 57 per cent positive, 25 per cent neutral, and only 18 per cent negative. So, consumers are forgiving providing you listen, engage, and work hard to improve the customer experience when you mess up.

Connect Where Your Customers Aretable

Chances are your musical customers are using a variety of social media platforms. The beauty of artists, whether they are professional musicians or novices, is that they love to connect and share with other like-minded  people. Psychology Today published a September 2009 piece titled “The Theory of Social Validation,” which boils down to the fact that “you’re not great until someone says you are.” That’s the whole point of posting, liking,  Retweeting, Repinning, commenting, etc. Everyone – customers, brands, retailers, everyone – is seeking validation!

So, figure out where your existing and potential customers are and join in on the conversation. Sit down with your key employees and develop a social media strategy. The three steps to any successful marketing campaign are assessment, implementation, and monitoring/ measuring.

Assessment

The assessment phase needs to look internally at your business model, people, and your strengths and weaknesses. You may need to reassess you “raison d’etre” or the purpose of your retail/services offerings. Think in terms of fulfilling customer needs, not in terms of selling to them. What value can you provide? Knowledge? Expertise? Outstanding customer experience?

Next, look externally to your target customers and your competitors. This analysis will unveil opportunities and threats. Survey your customers to find out what matters to them and what social media platforms they are using. What are your competitors doing better, worse, or differently from your  business? How are they using social media to connect and engage with their customers?

With this research completed, you are ready to move on to Implementation. Implementation Social technologies can assist in every business function including product development, research, fulfillment, supply chain  management, marketing, sales, public relations, and customer delight. Your first decision is determining who in your organization will be the owner of your social media. It might be one person or many people, depending on  the function of the media. You might even decide to outsource your efforts to a consultant or agency.

In the assessment phase, you determined which of the social media platforms your customers frequent. Probably the best place to start is to update your website with an interactive blog that invites fans to subscribe to your
news. Make it newsworthy and invite your fans to participate in the conversation. Contests are a big hit, especially when you are building your audience. Make sure it is shareable with an “invite friends” option.

Next, you will have to decide which of the “Big 5” to include in your social media – YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest. Each of these will be indexed by the powerhouse that is Google provided you tag it with the right keywords. It’s best to start small and focus on a few quick wins, such as your first 100 Facebook fans. You’d be better off delighting a few dozen people than annoying the masses.

Monitoring/Measuring

The final yet most important step in developing your social media strategy is monitoring and measuring. All of the social media sites you join have sophisticated analytics and insights for you to track your progress. Most of  them also have white papers, webinars, or live chats to assist you in both developing and tracking your results. Use the results to make constant improvements.  And remember, if you mess up (which you likely will), own it and apologize. Make it right like FedEx did!

Just remember that the whole goal with social media is to connect and engage with current and potential fans who will become your megaphone. It’s more about sharing, educating, and informing than it is about selling. People buy from people they like and trust. It may take some time to earn that right, but it will be worth it.

Wishing you Awesomeness!

Donna Geary is Executive Director of Impact Visual Merchandising, a retail marketing consulting firm that assists stores to improve the customer experience. With a corporate background as Senior Manager of Visual Presentation with HBC and over 20 years working with independents, chains, and industry associations, IVM knows how to create the Wow your customers crave. As an adjunct professor at Seneca College’s School of Marketing & Media, Donna also shares best-practice research and methodologies with thousands of students each year. Web: www.impactvisual.com Email: Donna@impactvisual.com