How have other top retailers responded to the mobile challenge? Big huge thanks to global IT and business solution provider Cognizant for this infographic.
Quick hits on Social Media, Marketing, and Technology
As a “newbie” to the digital marketing space, I may only have a “surface level” comprehension of this ever evolving profession, but I know my customers…
Since the days of dial-up AOL and old school cell phones with plans that required a bank loan, I’ve been marketing products and services to the medical device industry about as far back as when Gates and Jobs (R.I.P) were just getting started..
I might be a dinosaur when compared to “digital strategists” of the modern day new media, but some things will never change. One constant, in my humble opinion, is the fact that with all the high-tech “reaching out” methodologies and social channels that exist to make companies more engaging, and accessible, is that the CUSTOMER, still rules…
Now as a guest columnist, I don’t mean to ruffle any virtual feathers here, but since the dawn of the “world wide web”, those of you with the secret skills of “I.T” haven’t always been the most popular staff members in the office. Much like the respected yet confusing golf pro, it often seems that the “geeks” that create software, apps and sites and make them tick, make many customers go “blink, blink” with blank stares like a “South Park” Character.
You might proclaim to the customer that you have the “golden ticket” to traffic, conversions, and “conversations”, but you still get “the look”
So do I have all the answers for the fledgling social media marketer, of course not. But this much I do know; I am your target audience. I know enough to be dangerous in regards to “search and social”, but you all play a game I am not familiar with…
From my experience, the majority of business owners are way too busy making payroll and making a marketable product. To assume they understand your business would be assuming you know theirs….do you?
My simple suggestion would be to consider what I was taught back in the dark ages of that lost art of face-to-face sales calls. Combine the “high tech” with a bit of “high touch” and remember that people buy from people.
All the “CMS” tools and knowledge you may drop on a client, all the technical jargon and “buzz words” may make you appear as the “King” (or Queen) of the Digital marketing world. But if you forget that “nothing happens until there’s a sale”, and that making a connection with your prospect is your most important tool, you just might forget that “Customers” still rule…
As a business owner, at the end of the day, you’re in business to sell a product or service which means that you may know that product backwards and forwards, but does that mean you know how to market it? Maybe. Does it mean that you know digital marketing/ social media marketing? Does that mean you know e-commerce? Maybe not.
Some SMB’s prefer to do it all. Some can, some can’t. Some try, some fail. Enter the third party.
I’m having a conversation with a friend right at this moment in which he’s saying that the only thing constant in life is change. I agree, especially in social media. His point? People who run companies cannot do it all. But they try, they struggle, they dabble, and thus think they have it under control. Perhaps everyone needs that extra set of eyes on some aspects of what they do. Business owners need to understand that having another set of eyes is not necessarily a bad thing. The key is knowing when you need them and swallowing your pride to admit that you need them.
At the end of the day, you need to do what you do best. If you’re a doctor, asking you to market your product was not part of what you learned in medical school.
Social changes every day, so being an expert is a tall task. Being an expert in what you do takes time, takes effort and takes commitment. Can you be an expert in everything that you do in your business? For digital marketers, being connected to your network at least allows you stay abreast of what changes daily in the space. You take what you learn daily everywhere you go. Translation-How can you run your business and being effective with digital marketing? Especially if you’re a click and mortar business.
Beyond digital and social media and taking a broad lens approach to life, and knowing that we are all in some sort of bubble begs the question. Doesn’t having another set of eyes help you? Well there ya go…
Every day we’re faced with free and I hate it… Marketers throw free around like it’s confetti. Consumers snap up free stuff because it’s free. But does free work? Does giving stuff away for free make you eventually buy stuff? No, generally not. I’ve often said that the majority of people that follow brands on Facebook do it not because they are supposed brand champions but purely because they are hoping to get something out of the engagement. Something free.
Why would you follow Nike , Gatorade or American Eagle on Facebook? Because of the cool videos? Because of the witty banter? Or maybe you’re all about new product launches? Engagement? No? Be honest. You just want to connect with your niche of people that wear Nike and American Eagle and drink Gatorade…
Ok, so pretend you’re the SMB or the competition. How do other companies compete when Nike, Gatorade and AE give stuff away for free? Do they just go ahead and break down and give away free stuff too? Predictable right? I think part of the reason why case studies on organizations that do it differently are written is because the majority of marketers and companies do it the same way over and over with predictably average results. We embrace and applaud being different and yet conversely, we choose nine times out of ten, to do it just like our competition. Why is that?
I remember asking a small business owner once why they kept advertising in magazines and newspapers when the results were so poor. Their answer was that they had no other options. They didn’t know what else to do, so they just kept doing what didn’t work. Thus, fighting free with free may seem like a good idea, in the end it is not a business model.
The value of free
The problem is we’re asking local SMB’s to compete with big brands who give stuff away for free all the time, by forcing them to give stuff away for free too. This ultimately leads to 2 things: 1) It’s costing them more than they can really afford or b) It’s not really having the same impact on the consumer as it would if it was coming from the big brand.
The over-reaching formula for big brands is to create awareness of new stuff by giving away free stuff and then use social networks to promote the promise of free while driving the notion of new. Does giving something away for free inflate the value of that new product or service? Uh no. It may create awareness of the brand, product or company but there is no value in free.
Unfortunately we’re chasing the long tail of free, we always have. The internet and the emergence of social networks have created an atmosphere of chasing free wherever it may be. Interesting thing though is that you get what you pay for, even when it’s free.
So how do you compete?
I had a friend of mine who recently asked me how is he supposed to make money blogging or creating good content- and this was after one of his friends mentioned that a monkey could write content… I asked him, why would someone pay for your content? What is the value proposition of your content? Is it so bad that you feel the only way to push it out is as free content? We have to eliminate the notion that our IP is not valuable and promote the aspect of content, products and services that are so valuable that people would indeed pay for them.
The internet and social have gone a long way to creating free platforms to access free content when in actuality most people would pay for it if the value of the content they wanted were implicit. The point- we have created free markets for free which is a flawed model right out of the blocks. Don’t give something away to sell something-you can’t compete with those that use that as a business model. So what’s the work around?
a) Value your content
b) Create valuable content
c) Focus on where that content can be valued
d) Create a market for your content that creates awareness of you, your brand and your company
Lastly, Pay attention to this interview by Andrew Keen of WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell. Very telling.
Sometimes we forget that we have the power. Even those of you who are marketers or that work for brands forget that you are the demographic. you are your demographic. How do you want to be marketed to? Are you down with personalization? permission based marketing? Disruptive technologies? How do you want your content delivered to you? Flip the situation. Sometimes I forget that buying power is shifting to us. The voice of the customer is the new black.