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Posts Tagged ‘customers

Welcome to the first of the secrets social media marketers don’t tell you. Your job is not to get bigger. Your job is to change your market entirely!  Read on, and tell me if you agree that social media marketers have been oddly silent in this regard!

Conventional marketing requires massive numbers

The industrial age works on size. To make things cheap, we must make a lot. To make a profit from things that are cheap, we must sell a lot.

Competition is fierce. Look-a-likes are everywhere and the consumer is dazzled by choice and confused by the advertising that is in their face where ever they look.

It’s a vicious circle. To be noticed, we must get out there and compete with other advertising. So we add some more. And the competition is ramped up.

In the end, consumers learn to blank out and pay no attention to us.

Marketers are smart; they look for qualified customers

Marketers are on to this problem and they try to find ‘qualified customers’. They try to pay attention to people who have self-selected in some way.  So they sell us a loyalty card and once they have our email address, they bombard us with emails for ever after.

Google gives us free email. Then they serve adverts to match the content of our messages.

Both Google and Marketers are very numbers oriented and they very clinically track the number of ads we click and the emails we open (did you know that?). Google is happy with a 0.5% click through rate (CTR). They are happy if 1 out of 200 partially qualified customers responds to an ad and clicks on it.

It seems we open 2 to 3% of marketing ad that are sent to us. The rest are deleted unopened.

Social media marketers are even smarter; they know we listen to our friends

Social media works on a simple principle. We are more likely to open an email sent by friend than by a  company. Our open rate might even go up to 10%! (Do you leave 90% of email from friends unopened? It seems people do.)

Even with this ‘unopen’ rate, the increase from 0.5% to 2% to 10% is large enough to make the social media effect, or echo chamber effect, very interesting to marketers.

Why these tactics aren’t the whole story

These three tactics

  • Do more. Get more
  • Talk to people who are interested. They buy more
  • Get people to bring their friends. Half the selling is done by a friend’s recommendations

are good, but not enough. This is why.

We have worked hard to get more people. We carefully talk only to people already interested in us.  And they bring their friends.  I am all for focus and specialization but our market is getting smaller and smaller.

And it will continue to get smaller. Our personal networks and habits are changing continually. Slowly, but continually. We shed friends and gain friends the way we shed our skins. Slowly, but surely.

Social media marketers are oddly quiet about the way we replenish and refresh our networks.  This is where I think we should pay more attention.

An example from classical marketing

Coca-cola, the masters of classical marketing don’t change their product from decade to decade (lest its consumers revolt as they once did).  Nonetheless, they continually renew their relationship with the market.

Long before we we gave Gen Y a name, Coca-cola had worked out their character and formulated their market response.

They also continually look for new channels. I remember the day they put a cool box onto the mini-buses that work the streets of Johannesburg. Coca-cola have people whose sole job is to find new channels. That’s what social media should be doing!

What we learn from classical marketing that social media marketers have kept quiet

Yes, it is cool to expand our current customer base. Yes, it is cool to strengthen our market with connections between customers. Yes, it is cool to listen to what our customers are saying and to give them what they want.

It is also smart to add change to constancy. We should also ask whom of our visitors are new – not only in name but in character and need. We should challenge our social media analysts to come up with something like a new channel – something refreshingly surprising about the market.

  • What do we understand that we never understood before?
  • Who has come window shopping who never came before?

Social media marketers have been holding out on us. Our job is not only to get more customers – tough as that might be.  Our job is to map the changing landscape. I haven’t seen any metrics yet that report change.  That’s where the value is.

Next of the three secrets tomorrow!

We are in social media because we really have fun

Most of us who get into social media because we love it.  We like computers and we are fairly sociable, though curiously, often introverted too.

We do what we love, and we do it happily all day long.

It’s only when we start to think about making money, that we start to think about monetizing. And then we start to think a lot about money. And we start to talk about it too.

Have you ever noticed that people in other industries don’t talk about money nearly as much as we do?

That’s because they have more than us.

Why other people make money

My ‘day job’, or at least my day-job in years gone by, was as a psychologist to commerce and industry. We put in systems – pay, performance appraisal, selection. Hell, even pensions.

Most social media firms are much too small to be bothered with such systems. That’s lucky. These systems tend to be rather dull.

The guiding principles behind the systems are another matter though.

Take competencies, for example.

We try to understand a job in terms of its essential skill base. What do we get done? What are the main clusters of tasks?

I’ve been edging toward a model for social media and this is what I’ve come up with.

Menu board of 5 competencies in social media

Competence 1: Customers

Who are our customers? If they used our service, what would they use it for? How do they satisfy that need without us?

Once we’ve introduced our service, how do they use it? What tweaks do they introduce?

This isn’t a customer-service role. It’s a strategic-role where our expertise is watching the people we serve.

Clay Shirky is the best example of a person who is expert in this role He works at the role of macro-strategy. What affects all of us?

We also need mavens working at the level of micro-strategy – our own industry, our own locality, our specific demographic. Anthropology and sociology are good foundations for this expertise.

Competence 2: Technology

Today, Seth Sternberg, founder of Meebo, posted his thoughts on managing startups over on Techcrunch.

He believes that the core team needs at least two technical people: the pixelator (design of the front end) and the person who makes the servers fly (backend).

That’s a useful framework to start with. Where is design and processing going? What is likely to break onto the scene in the next five years? What is flair and what is competence in the field?

In the social media world of south-east England, many of us rely on LoudMouthMan to give us an overview of what is happening.

I suspect many geeks are very specialized and are micro-micro, so to speak.  What are the slightly broader ‘chunks’ that match clusters or groups of apps who compete with each other?

Competence 3: Marketing

Now we get to looking after customers.  Marketers in the social media space are quite competent technically.  They use social media to find customers, respond to customers, and tweak the system to manage the % ROI.

This space is very noisy. But I perceive most people are chasing the business of big traditional companies who are perceived to be flush with cash.

I haven’t met too many social media marketers who will manage a startup.  The closest that I know of is Julius Solaris who is his own startup, so to speak.  He arrived in UK less than 18 months ago and has built an extensive network of entrepreneurs in London.

I’ve done a little work on the broad mega-picture of Facebook & Twitter and Linkedin users in UK

To work our own space – to go from zero customers to 1000’s of customers, we need to copy Julius.

Competence 4: Keeping it all together.

I have met some accountants at Julius’ meetups. Accountants who specialize in social media are as rare as hens’ teeth though.

Lawyers are a little more common, but not common at all. Omar Ha-Redeye, reading for his JD in Canada is the closest I know.

This post is my contribution to this competence ‘Keeping it all together’ by thinking ahead about our skill base.

Competence 5: Emergence

And lastly, who is Hannibal of the A team?

We sometimes bring ‘old world’ attitudes to social media. We want to be in-charge, largely because we don’t trust each other and we are terrified of losing control of the ‘rent’ – the unusual profits.

In reality, of course, we barely have any profit at all. This is part of the creative sector and few people get rich.

Hannibal doesn’t play this old fashioned role. Hannibal thinks up the game plan. Hannibal builds the missing trust and gets out some fair and cast iron contracts (that the lawyers, accountants and psychologists will make happen in their detail).

Hannibal coordinates. Hannibal sizes up the progress we make in our distinct arenas and passes information between us to help us stay together.

And second only to building trust, Hannibal senses the emergence of new understanding, clarity and more finely tuned goals. Hannibal represents the group to itself . . . represents the group to itself.

Hannibal must love the group, seriously love it.

We are Hannibal in our own lives. We think up our game plan. We help all the people who help us to trust each other. We pass information between them when they cannot do it themselves. We sense what we can do together and we represent this possibility so everyone can imagine a future that includes us . Universities have started to offer full semester courses to start students developing personal leadership.

Five competencies for managing a social media business

  • We need them all in part
  • It’s great when we find a maven who will keep us informed of broad changes
  • It seems to me that there are many opportunities to become experts at “industry” level (between niche and the broader picture).
  • “Keeping it all together” is calling for people with professional skills to specialize in social media.
  • We are all Hannibals in our own life.
  • Some people play the role of Hannibal in project teams and get very good at it.

Any use to you? Has this list helped you to check off your strengths and the strengths of your network?

Can you start a project team in the next month?  Who is missing from your team?

When you next go to a meetup, who are you hoping to find, probably standing somewhere quietly?

Any thoughts?

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NEWPORT, ISLE OF WIGHT - JUNE 14:  Music fans ...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Laying out your social media campaign

Yesterday morning, I posted 10 Sun Tzu rules for the networked world.  These are 10 questions to guide our social media strategy – beginning with describing our fans and ending, with  issues which confuse the fans and which we need to address.

Startups have special issues

Start-ups struggle, or rather panic on the first question.  Who is my fan?  I know who speaks to me now, and I have a vague idea about who I want to speak to – and there is a biiiiiiiiig gap.

Pupils dilate.  Heart pounds.

How can we define the fans we have never met?

All is not lost.  We have a hack.

Last night, I posted a really simple way to imagine speaking to that customer that we haven’t met yet.

It’s a really good technqiue for describing fans and customers we hope to have but don’t have yet.

Get our scenario-writing going

Try it.  Get rid of that anxious feeling !

You’ll be surprised at how quickly you can  imagine the scenarios.

Once you are imagining meeting your customers, you can start defining your sales process

Once you can imagine your customers, the next important step is to figure out who is ready to buy.  And if they are ready to buy, do they have the money and when will they have the money?

Finding the best customers

For those of us not from a sales background, approaching customers is seriously intimidating and meeting with dead-ends is disheartening.

BNET came timeously to the rescue yesterday.  Here is their step-by-step “prospect qualification” system.

It breaks these larger 4 questions into baby steps.

  1. Do they need what you sell?
  2. Do they have the money to pay?
  3. Who does the buyer have to consult and who makes the final decision?
  4. When might they buy and what determines when they might buy?

It’s a very good idea to take one of the fans you described and step through these questions.

The questions seem to loop into each other towards the end so just revert to the pages 1-17 and click throught to the end!

Making progress?

Is this coming together for you?  It should be.  Do let me know!

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