Content May Be King, BUT…Customers Rule!

Guest Post from Chris Doster from Digital Response Marketing Group

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…

 

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Elevate your game

With respect to PETA, it may seem sometimes to you like we are beating a dead horse when talking about social media. But the problem is that we get so caught up in learning new shiny ways to make money that we forgot how we made the money in the first place.

It has always been about the customer and it will continue to be about the customer. You’re in business, I’m in business and we”re in business to serve the customer. Making them happy means you live to play another day. Delivering to them the best of what you do is why you do what you do.

All social media should mean to you is that it allows for you to add tools and channels to your marketing mix that help you connect with your customers and future customers.

Quit worrying about the semantics of social media. It’s time to move on.

Beyond the above core statement, what you need to understand about social media is that it has empowered customers and it has now put you on notice. Elevate your game and get your house in order. Period. The age of the new customer is upon us.

Surprise! Conversations with the customer pay off!

What has been the most effective thing you’ve done to grow your business?

What tools, software or otherwise, have been invaluable to you? Have you used any social media tools?

I asked this in LinkedIn this past week, and I got news for you, Just when my faith is beginning to waver in how business is conducted these days, I got alot of great answers. Here are some snippets of those responses. see if you can come up with what the end all be all answer is yo the question.

Tim Brown of In The News “Number one with me sounds SO much like “consultant-speak”, but I stop myself and think about how the customer experience is working. I’m constantly trying to make that emotional connection and deliver an enjoyable buying experience. Our product is a non-critical item, easily deleted from the budget. If we build the relationship and make it easy, customers will still buy.”

Brian McCarthy of Tipping Point Media “Build a solid engagement strategy for business development that can be repeated within the sales organization. Once everyone is speaking the same language, it’s easier to push new customer development.”

Jolie O’dell “IRL conferences, LinkedIn, Twitter, and (surprisingly) Chatterous. Through these tools, I was able to start my own business and network with people who could tell me how to do that in all the right ways. The three social nets I named are repositories for best practices in new media, marketing, and technology, the latter two because they’re teeming with brilliant early adopters.

And immersion in the right kinds of social media can make things happen very quickly, as well. It’s often like being at an IRL conference 24/7… As long as you learn how to use it properly!”

Kent Lewis of Anvil Media puts it this way:  This may not be the answer you’re looking for, but I would advise you not to be distracted by tools, software and social media. They are enablers, but not solutions. Start with a unique vision and world class product, then market your story. Oh, and read Good to Great and First Break All The Rules.

Second, we spend a great deal of time evolving and perfecting our product offering and ensure we provide world class service. The end result is that we’ve averaged 75% annual growth over the past 3 years, without having a sales staff or a marketing budget. Our team and our clients are our sales force and with high retention in both areas, it makes the work easier and much more enjoyable.

That said, the more pat answers to grow a business have largely been answered, but I’d say:
-public relations (builds a brand)
-search engine and social media marketing (go hand-in-hand)
-online and offline advertising (protects the brand)

Just make sure all of your marketing efforts are fully integrated…your Twitter and LinkedIn profiles are embedded in your email signature file, etc. It’s a brave new world, and everyone knows your a dog these days, so be authentic and remarkable

Or maybe Lisa Van Allen nails it on the head with her short but succinct list?

Most effective (in order):
1. live (in person) networking
2. public speaking
3. publication of articles in local media and online (blogs, e-newsletters)
4. website
5. social media (LI, Facebook, Twitter)

I think we’re getting warmer, Look what Karen Schultz says: “Listen without selling. Learn what works toward the customer’s team’s success. Choose a customer who matches your definition of partnership. Have their healthy growth in mind. How can you help their success. Be prepared to embrace the customer needs while exceeding their expectations, not yours. It is all about the customer. You are the customer’s advocate. Without the customer, you are not in business. The business you are in should be your passion, not about the weekend, not about the money ( I believe it will come in a fair fashion and you will feel great for your accomplishments, people will like to do business with you, people will advertise for you, and your customers will grow your business for you).

Ultimtaley they were all great answers but I will leave you with Tina Indalecio’s response: To be honest – the most effective thing I’ve done to grow my business has been offline.

My firm consistently used social media, blogs, html newsletters, surveys to get feedback on customer experience, etc. But those have really just been ways to stay in contact with the customer so they don’t forget us.

The conversion to actual business has always been through face-to-face interactions. I always asked for referrals and repeat business (online and offline). I created incentive programs to increase repeat business and referrals – then used online tools as one way to deliver the messages – but always followed up with a call or face-to-face meeting.

We would also hold a client thank you mixer every year and invite our clients and encourage them to bring a friend that could use our services. It was a great way for them to get new business as well from our other clients and they all loved it.

Ultimately, personal interaction has grown my business and the “phone” has been invaluable. For online items, they have helped in the following ways:

– Survey’s have been good at getting feedback. (I’ve used survey monkey regularly during and after each project closed)

– Html newsletters have been good at staying in front of the customer – but be sure to ask them what they want in the newsletter and then deliver it. (I’ve used constant contact and cooleremail)

– online social networks have been valuable at bouncing ideas off other professionals, etc. (like linkedin)

– offline social networks have been valuable for keeping a presence in the business community (like membership to your local business association)

Good way to head off into the weekend I think!