Positioning Your Dealership as an Office Technology Thought Leader via Social Media to Grow Sales6 Jan, 2016 By: Lindsay Kelley, Dealer Marketing
In the competitive landscape of today’s technology buyer, you’re fighting for attention. Social media can help you cut through sales and advertising noise and earn a buyers trust, before they ever talk to you, or your competitor.
“Do you do social media posting?” That is typically how I hear office dealers refer to a social media strategy. It’s bucketed into a general category that is all encompassing in their minds. Understandable. The intricacies of social media as a strategy can be a foreign concept if you’re not involved with it on a day-to-day basis as a business growth tool. However, social media is so much more that just “posting.” In reality, that would be much like a prospect saying “oh, just give me a copier, any copier," without the sales rep understanding what the businesses’ goal are or how they intend the copier to function. There are so many types of MFPs that serve different purposes based upon the business need - you have to help the buyer understand which MFP is the right choice for them. It’s much the same with social media.
When it comes to building out a strategy for social media, there is no one size fits all approach. Think about what you want social media to do for you.
Here are just some of the possibilities for focusing your social strategy:
· Brand awareness
· Industry expertise positioning
· Media outreach
· Drive website traffic
· Customer service
Now, think of the social media channels that you have available to you:
You’re able to make your desired strategy and the channels listed work together, however, in order to do that well, you need to take time, planning, and care. I recommend you select one or two when you’re getting started. Let’s take a little from list one and a little form list two and formulate a good strategy for an office technology dealer. From the first list, let’s look at how to use social media for hardware sales. That will require a blending of the sales and industry expertise positioning bullet points. From the list of social channels, let’s think of what your target buyer might use and go with it. LinkedIn seems a logical choice for reaching decision makers. That’s not always the case - it depends on your target buyer.
Strategy for using social media:
Thinking back to the list of possible strategies you can use social media for, let’s examine positioning yourself as an industry expert online. Social media is a vehicle to amplify your message. Think of it this way. There are folks who want to keep up with what is happening in the business world and they turn to folks they know, like, and trust online. You need to be spreading the knowledge you have as an organization on social channels to acquire the mindshare of these online searchers. Buyers will turn to companies that they know and who have provided great information when they’re looking to make a purchase. Its a wise strategy to position yourself as a helpful resource. This means posting helpful stories of challenges solved, not a sales message about the latest cost of an add on to an MFP. This will begin formulating the digital relationship with your future buyer before they even connect with you as they’re researching what they need to solve a business pain. Simply put, have helpful, intelligent information available to your potential buyer that answers their questions. As they search through their social channels, they want interesting stories to read wrapped around challenges that have been solved, not sales brochures.
What to share on social media:
First, you’ll need to begin with having good content to share. That could be blog articles, videos, infographics or anything your audience can consume and that interests them. Note that I said “that interests them’. What do I mean? I’m referring to helpful content that educates them and answers their questions relevant to their business or answers they might have about your products and services. Social media is a conversation and a place to share great articles and content that prompt online discussions. When is the last time you saw a sales pitch on LinkedIn and thought, “I can’t wait to read that!”? So, if you engage with a social media strategy as part of your overall marketing plan, be ready and willing to participate. Nothing can turn off a prospect like commenting on your LinkedIn post and not hearing a reply from you. Have your sales reps get used to posting and replying to readers. It builds their credibility when they go in for the discovery or sales meeting. Like a hardware maintenance program, its a commitment. You committed to take care of and service your customers’ equipment, so do the same with your social media commitment. You’ll have comments and questions that come through your social channel of choice - be ready to listen and answer.
Next, you need to share things written by other industry thought leaders to continue to position yourself as the expert - especially the sales reps in your company. Only sharing your own content from your dealership is eventually noticed as egotistical. So share great information others in your buyer’s industries have created. A good example might be if you are targeting the education sector, sharing a great online article from a recent education focused publication that will resonate with that audience goes a long way with those potential buyers. It shows you know their industry and can relate tot heir challenges.
Selecting your social channels:
You’ll need to figure put which channels you want to focus on. Why? Because in addition to sharing articles that they’re interested in, you need to be where your audience is spending their time so you can get your articles. LinkedIn is going to be a great place for you to share content for many of the persona target buyers in the office technology industry. You have multiple options for sharing on LinkedIn.
Here are some of the top tips for LinkedIn sharing:
#1 Share articles.
You can share online articles as a post and add in a sentence or two as to why you are sharing the article. For example, if you were to share the online version of this article, you might say something like this: "Social media is ubiquitous in today’s business world. Understanding how to use it to showcase your expertise and grow sales should be a vital part of your sales strategy in 2016.” Then add a link to the article and post it to LinkedIn.
#2 Write your own long format post.
A couple years ago, LinkedIn built a new platform for its users to share their stories. Long format posts are a way to showcase your industry expertise and influence an audience. People like to read stories, not just sales information on a latest feature of a product or service. If you can tie that new feature into how it can improve their daily business lives and tell a story about a customer who experienced such a positive change, then its worthy of a long format post. You can write about challenges, opportunities and trends within your industry or your target customer’s industry. These are very much like a blog post. We often repurpose blog posts that have received a lot of shares and likes, and re-used them on LinkedIn.
#3 Start conversations in groups.
These digital conversations could be wrapped around a blog post that would interest that particular group or pose a question around challenges. Focus on creating meaningful discussions so that your audience will keep looking at your posts and your digital connection with them will grow, even if you don’t know it. Many people will read your comments and conversations and begin to trust your advice. They may not comment right away, or ever, but the insights you provide will stick with them, so keep those discussions and comments in your groups going!
Keep in mind, sharing in all of the above ways will also feed the search engines. These posts and comments are now indexed by Google and other search engines and may show up as a search result when a prospect searches for a particular keyword phrase.
To recap, social media can be a valuable asset for the growth of your company if your strategy is focused and you understand that a solid social media strategy is wrapped around being a helpful resource to your buyers. Share stories and answer questions through the appropriate social media channels, and you’ll win net new customers for life.
Lindsay Kelley is President and co-founde of Prospect Builder, an inbound marketing agency working with office technology dealers. We are a certified Hubspot partner and our certified inbound marketing team applies the latest inbound strategies to create leads for copier dealers through the US and Australia. Visit http://www.prospectbuilder.net for information.