NOT JUST AN ADD-ON TO YOUR MARKETING PLAN
Today’s business owners face many challenges. One of the biggest ones as of late is the social trends happening online. There is a very real groundswell trend going on. As a business owner, it is crucial to gain an understanding through paying attention to what will affect and may threaten your business in the ever-growing online world. According to Li and Bernoff (2011), “The groundswell is a social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other, rather than from traditional institutions like corporations.”
This concept is not to be ignored as you build your brand or business. Before the online world, it was much easier to keep loyal customers. This is not the case anymore. Now customers can see very quickly what else is out there for them and change their behaviours in response to what they experience in the online space. Consumers talk to each other and refer each other to the brands that they love.
Social Media is Not New
In the past, consumers had to rely on what businesses told them about their brand. Nowadays they need only look online to see what is being said about their brand. As Waxman (2016) points out in his Lynda.com video series Social Media Marketing for Small Business, social media is not new. He recounts that his dad was making use of social media long before the online world existed. In his father’s brick and mortar business, it was social media marketing that brought results through referrals from word-of-mouth. It all came down to great customer service. This is something that will never change no matter what technological advances occur. As Waxman (2016) says, “Social media is word-of-mouth on steroids. It gives you a way to connect and build relationships with your customers.”
Go to Your Customers
As I have been building my social media business, I believe my thinking was off when it came to customers and how to connect with them. As I watched and learned from Waxman in this video series my understanding has deepened and I discovered something very valuable. I cannot expect my customers to find me rather I need to go to where my customers are and deliver value to them. I have been going about this in a backwards fashion.
When I first started blogging I would post and put out content that I felt was valuable based on what I thought people needed. I was wrong. People don’t necessarily want what they need they want what they desire.
Li and Bernoff (2011) gave some great insight into how to know who your customers are and how to reach them with your offering. They referred to a systematic approach to creating and executing a plan that makes it easier to build a groundswell strategy that brings positive marketing results. They called it the “POST method, for people, objectives, strategy and technology” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 67).
When looking for your ideal customers it is important to understand how they “engage, based on what they are already doing” (Li et al., 2011).
This is where I missed the mark in my past experiences with trying to reach my potential customers in my social media marketing business Inspired Method. I understand now that I need to know where my customers are hanging out and in what way they are engaging. This information will be most useful to enabling me to reach them rather than expecting them to find me, my product and services.
Customer Relationship Management
The next area that needs more attention in every business including mine is in the strategy of relationship building with customers.
I have realized that It is beneficial for me to develop a long-lasting customer relationship. Great customer relationship management is what loyalty is founded on. Word-of-mouth referrals give my business a competitive advantage where my customers carry my brand and message to others in the marketplace. This video about CRM (Salmat, n.d.) tells the story of great customer relationship management. When you expect loyalty from your customers you need to give a ton of great support in return. When you give your customers superior service you become top-of-mind for them when they are ready to purchase or repurchase.
Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell. Forrester Research, Inc.
Salmat. (n.d.). Salmat. Retrieved from Youtube.
Waxman, M. (2016). Social Media Marketing for Small Business. Retrieved from Lynda.com.