Yes, Grab Your Customers with Social Media…But Don’t Abandon All Other Marketing Tools25 Jul, 2013 By: A. Craig Stimmel
As a refresh, I continue to drive home the idea that we live in a world where customers, resellers and suppliers need 24/7 access to finding you and your company information. And that means a lot more today than just having a “static” website just waiting for prospects to discover your company by default. Sure, your website is important to list products, company information and contacts, as well as user tips and case studies of successful delivery, but in addition to your website, the inventive Social Media sites can be your far reaching “business calling card” to getting active with prospects and your customer base.
Employing a web interface such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., and blogging platforms does help maximize your branding campaign. This method creatively allows you to tell your customers all about your current business issues, future plans, promotions, training, and more. You seek to become “one with your customers” and in return, your customers will (or should) want your products and services. Not to mention exposing your company as a credible (and visible) leader in its field, such as managed print services.
Companies once thought that you had to spend a fortune for good advertising. Many have gone “all out” with direct mail marketing, broadcast radio, cable TV and print advertising. While these traditional approaches can work, they can also be costly. Some fail to hit their mark or entice the customer. What do I mean by fail? Overall they do not achieve a good Return on Investment (ROI).
Social Media vs. Traditional Marketing
I personally do not suggest to my clients that they do away with some of their more traditional market media or advertising methods because often these techniques are in the budget, and may be working to some degree. But I do suggest that they not neglect an important element that is becoming critically important today – that of being able to follow-up with customers and future customers in an affordable, digitally modern and exciting way. Naturally, I am speaking of Social Media use and connecting online.
Without question, there is an uncountable number of ways to connect using social media today. For businesses to promote themselves or connect to the community, it is becoming common to use facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, even YouTube. These social media sites have become, over the past three years, maybe THE most effective force you can use to build your customer base affordably and quickly, building your brand and maintaining a consistent relationship with your customers. Social marketing does one thing better than most t – they keep your company in front of your customers & prospects ongoing, 24/7, 365 days of the year.
If your internal staff is incapable of setting up the aspects of a proper social media plan, a capable consulting company can assist you in developing an online presence the familiar social networking sites. They can help create content, messaging, videos, blogs, upload product images and keep your company information current. A knowledgeable consultant will help you realign your email marketing campaign as well.
Once your social media program has been identified, the consultant or professional resource monitoring your site can take over – doing the day-by-day work; from establishing you on each of the applicable social media sites to daily or weekly regular postings – about your company, its products/services, any promotional products, partnerships and industry case studies if you have them, and any scheduled time-sensitive news you’d like your customers and prospects to know about.
What Else Can It Do?
For most organizations the emphasis is usually on generating profitable sales and new customers, yet social media can do a lot more. It can be viewed with interactive feedback for a variety of uses such as:
- Making customer service more user friendly; less costly
- Cutting down on conventional media placement costs
- Assisting sales as a result of online customer inquiries
- Helping to lowering overall advertising & PR costs
- Global brand awareness presence 24/7
- Networking with your industry’s peers and prospects
- Finding groups & associations with similar interests
- Call out for hiring needs, reducing the cost of recruiting
How Much Will It Cost?
You have to keep pace with your competitors, but a good rule of thumb is to remember that each client’s social media “marketing campaign” is different as each client has different goals and expectations. Do not get overwhelmed but instead welcome assistance. Ask questions; if you don't have the support in house seek a consultant or people who understand the methodology behind social media, etc. At the beginning and before you begin working with an established consultant, ask for a written estimate based exclusively on your specific needs; include the markets you wish to reach, what you can afford to commit to, etc. Ask for credentials; learn of other success stories that have resulted in a positive outcome; view referred sites or ask for testimonial letters from other clients to gauge the quality of their consulting work. Be sure your consultant knows how to effectively create, work and navigate well in utilizing today’s social media strategies, and who recognizes what will work best for your company’s initiatves, tailoring it to suit those needs effectively.
Craig Stimmel is president of SPIA, an industry consultant group focused on multiple business solutions, including social media management. Contact Craig at (978) 640 0803 or email http://email@example.com