Many businesses, small and large are often challenged with the concept that they should expand their marketing to include social media and other non-traditional ways that don’t necessarily bring an immediate return on their investment.
Marketing costs, similar to training and H.R. related expenses should be classified as an overall expense, and not a bottom line item that is offset by direct sales.
Does this mean marketing costs shouldn’t be monitored or weighed against a return on investment? No, not at all. Where as a business’s sales staff and efforts should be gauged against profitable returns, marketing of a product or service is more than that.
When you implement a marketing plan you are bringing awareness of its existence to your target audience. You are looking to become an industry expert on what you are selling, the go to resource for prospects, clients and yes even your competition. As you develop content, white papers, presentations, project profiles remember to use, re-use and re-purpose the content in many different ways and media.
Let’s look at a few of the ‘newest’ tools to help businesses promote their expertise:
a. Your blog is simply a way to post articles and information about products and services and have them tied to your company’s website.
b. Your blog shouldn’t be used to always sell a product or service, as your readers (your prospects and customers), will soon be turned off from reading your weekly advertisement special.
c. Yes, you want to promote your offerings, but instead of saying ‘Buy from us because….’, take the approach of writing about the widget you are selling (and yes your competition is selling) and explain the benefits of the widget, compared to a product you don’t offer. Provide examples of testing, consumer feedback, whether from your clients or others, etc. as to why the widget is a great item. It is always good to reference and provide links to other articles and authors who have posted about the widget as well.
d. As you provide weekly or bi-weekly posts, your readers will know to come back to your blog for the latest industry information, and when they are ready to purchase a widget, more than likely they will think of you first.
e. Depending on the abilities of your sales and marketing staff, it is okay to allow multiple posters on the business blog, to allow for a variety of writing style and thoughts. I would suggest having someone review, though, any content prior to posting for grammar etc.
a. What can I say about my business or products in 140 characters? We don’t have the time to use this. That’s what many businesses say when asked why they aren’t in the Twitterverse.
b. Just as businesses don’t have the time to create marketing copy, prospects, today have limited time to read, especially when it comes to long articles or advertisements. ‘Shorter is sweeter when you Twitter’
c. True it may take time to condense your thoughts into 140 characters, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes second nature. (Total character count 131)
d. Wrds can b shrtned to fit & U R able to send a messge 2 ur prospects in an undrstndble way, even inclding a link http://linkd.in/1fVLELX
e. Use Twitter to:
- Let prospects know you have a new product (and link to the page on your website or a white paper about it)
- Comment on interesting industry related articles you read
- Promote a recent post on your blog
- Allow clients to comment about your product, although this can be a double-edge sword if there are complaints. If so, you need to respond and resolve expeditiously and honestly.
a. Both can be used similarly, although LinkedIn tends to be for more static information than two-way communication.
b. Create business pages that describe your business and why it is in business.
i. LinkedIn can be seen as an on-line bio and history of your company as well as identifying sales representatives, or even, executives within the company and ways for prospects and customers to connect (Link) with them.
ii. Facebook is definitely the more 2-way communication medium, where you can allow followers to comment directly on your page as well as you providing visual content about the business and products.
Deciding which social media tool to use can be just as daunting as what to post, etc., since I’ve only discussed four of the available. As a business owner you may also want to review other tools such as Google+, Tumblr, YouTube, Pinterest, deciding then which is the best for you and your business.
One word of caution and I’ve seen many business receive a subpar grade when it comes to utilization of these tools. As a business owner, you can’t assume that you can be one and done with any of these tools. A marketing plan should be prepared that covers at least 6 months of what you plan to post about your products and services. If you plan to post on your blog once every two weeks, you can still re-tweet, share, like and comment on other industry articles from individuals or companies that you follow.
As your business builds a following, whether it is subscribers to your Blog, followers of your Twitter handle or LinkedIn and those that Like your business on Facebook, you will soon recognized as a ‘Go-To Resource’ for information as well as your prospects and customers go source for products or services.
A BusinessHive Partner Post: Vince Duobinis has over 20 years of B2B and B2C marketing and sales experience. He has been published in over 30 trade magazines and has written a book. He currently assists business with social media marketing, writing, research and sales.
You can follow Tweet with him @vince_duobinis and connect with him on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/vduobinis/ or firstname.lastname@example.org