Today's guest blogger, Jeff Molander, is adjunct professor of digital marketing at Loyola University business school, a content marketing speaker and author of the forthcoming book, Off the Hook Marketing: How to make social media sell. He blogs at http://www.jeffmolander.com/blog
Follow customers into social spaces. It's a smart idea. But incomplete without a means to capture demand and convert it to sales. The answer to selling more with social media is found: Starting conversations that are worth having. And conversing in ways that generate questions that you have answers to—and connect to your products/services. This is how to generate customer inquiries using social media.
Blogging, engaging, listening to customers on Facebook or Twitter. They're all a necessary component of being online. But doing these things won’t help your business generate leads and convert sales using social media. Here's a 3 step process that will.
Step 1: Question your consultants
Overzealous “digital rock star gurus” say the Social Web has revolutionized everything. And getting attention is the answer. We’re told to listen first. Then “engage” customers. But when does "engage" connect to sales? As David Ogilvy himself reminded marketers decades ago “we sell or else!”
Why is managing your reputation and developing enthusiasts more important than generating sales? Because someone who sells social media buzz monitoring software says so? Or why is the end goal for Twitter something called engagement? (aka attention) Because someone who wrote a book on Twitter decided so? And who said you cannot use LinkedIn to generate sales leads? Research funded by an ad agency that sells banner ads?
It’s likely not your imagination. These questions are often being birthed by social media gurus who are well-intentioned. But they have something to sell your marketing staff.
Step 2: Align marketing to produce behavior
“You don’t sell someone something by engagement, conversation and relationship. You create engagement, conversation and relationships by selling them something,” says Bob Hoffman, (“The Ad Contrarian”) CEO, Hoffman Lewis. Read that again and notice how it flies in the face of what we're being told to do by "experts."
Businesses that sell with social media are reaching beyond attracting customers. They’re generating leads using these 3 practical success principles. They're aligning social marketing with sales by:
- Designing marketing to produce behavior—always
- Translating customers’ evolving needs and prompting discussions worth having
- Publishing useful, relevant tools that get customers to ask questions that you can answer (and connect to products)
Consider your current social media marketing activities. Everything you’re doing to “join the conversation.” You're tweeting, blogging, posting updates on Facebook. Are your activities talking with or “talking at” customers? Or are you truly interacting? Making marketing produce behavior is the first step. Make the call to action—or don't use social media at all!
Step 3: Ask better questions
Press your marketing consultants, ad agency reps and employees to answer business questions first. And without using words like traffic, engagement or buzz. Make them squirm. Then turn the guns on yourself. Ask yourself: “Are we hiring employees and vendors based on tactical skills rather than ability to create strategic results? Do they ask the right questions of us—or avoid ours? Might the sales process itself be 'home' to what we already know works?”
The answers may surprise you and prompt bold actions.
As an example, in a staff/vendor meeting make a point to understand if you’re using the Social Web to interact with customers intimately—or if you’re “blasting” and tweeting into the ether.
If you’re interacting is it organized? Or do tactics work apart from (or compete with) each other?
What actionable information does each interaction produce and where does that information go?
What’s done with it (or not)? Do interactions even produce actionable information? Does it connect to a lead nurturing or follow-up process?
Finally, ask yourself if there’s room for each social strategy to cooperatively push customers down the sales funnel…like a musical symphony…using the collected information. Task your social marketing team to organize around logical customer behaviors and prompts.
Social media marketing is a necessary component of being online. But "being on Facebook and Twitter" won’t generate leads and convert sales unless you design them to. Try applying this 3 step process tomorrow. Good luck!
Topics: Guest Blogs