New users of Facebook and Twitter for small business lead generation are often disappointed in the lack of immediacy in big results. Frankly, that’s a bit like expecting total weight loss on the first day of a diet – especially when you don’t follow the plan.
Rethink traditional marketing vs. social media marketing for your small business.
Say you just started your new storefront small business (and these principles still apply for a non-brick and mortar business, so keep reading if that’s you).
Your grand opening.
You spend a small fortune on media to publicize the event to all of your desired local territory and demographics. Press releases, a PR person, extra staff to handle the grand opening crowds, food, balloons, prizes, … oh, and don’t forget that expensive 1-time use “Grand Opening” banner.
Let’s agree that the budget for this one weekend event is typically a small fortune. CDB and in a big way! (Cost of Doing Business)
But you have to let them know you’re here, right?!
But, what’s the reality? The event is over in a flash, and typically the sales aren’t what you expected and you didn’t draw as many people from the ads as ad sales said you would.
There is good news. The people who DID come are now aware of your business. You connected with them and got them excited about your product or concept, and they now know where you are. And you got those grand opening jitters behind you…
So, what comes next if you are only using Traditional Marketing?
After the grand opening, you set forth to make the most of every contact made, and every future customer. You train your people to engage and connect with your customers so you’ll be remembered for excellent customer service. You observe the responses of your customers to different products and sales techniques and adjust accordingly for better success next time.
You recognize that it is a build… that success does not typically come overnight (unless you are selling the latest version of the iPhone!), and that building of relationships with your customers – each and every one of them – is crucial. Why? Because you know that repeat business is key to survival and that your customers are your best advertisement.
You continue to spend for periodic media messaging via newspaper and radio. Again, you are willing to invest in many ways to keep the momentum going to draw new customers…
Ok, now Social Media marketing.
You create or hire someone to create your Facebook and Twitter business pages. Maybe even hire a graphic designer and social media consultant to make sure you present the best first impression and have all the necessary bells and whistles for the ideal visitor experience.
Then you think you are done.
You didn’t opt for the coaching and training in usage that was offered. Since it’s JUST social media, you think – how hard could it be? You begin to post updates all about your business and your product and you wonder where the response is… Where are the likes, the fans, the leads that are supposed to be generated?
Hmmm…. maybe it’s because you don’t apply all the hard work principles and investment of time, money, and effort into social media marketing that you did for traditional marketing?
Social Media is supposed to be FREE, right?
Wrong. The online tools are free, but just like opening your physical location, you have to spend time and money for you and your designated staff to learn how to use it properly or hire the right people to do it for you for the best results.
Think about the major time and money investment you have made in traditional marketing: training, staff, scripts, signage, fancy shopping totes, business cards, brochures, flyers… You may say to yourself, it’s time-tested over generations, so of course traditional marketing is part of the budget. But it’s not working like it used to…
So why are you treating social media marketing like the red-headed stepchild of your business?
Because you don’t know what you don’t know. Traditional marketing has been around for so long that it you accept it as a worthy investment and a CDB.
But the small business’ best advertising vehicles – print media and radio – are dying. The few options left are so outrageously expensive that a small business can’t afford them.
But many of you are realizing this only now.
Many of you have seen your business dwindle down, the economy is making it worse, and you are now seeing the light in the usage of Social Media. The 60+ boomer business owner is the latest group to recently come to this realization…
But your frustration and the bills mounting are causing you to lose sight of the necessary investment for social media. Yes, you can do it all yourself, but that learning curve is long… And can you really afford to take time away from running your business to devote enough time to social media?
The cost for effective Social Media and Email Marketing is still incredibly low compared to the cost of traditional marketing. Yes, it’s harder to measure social media ROI, but the numbers on traditional marketing ROI have never been the most accurate either. Sure it’s tough to change marketing strategies, but when it’s for the better, it’s worth it.
Reality check: Traditional marketing doesn’t work anymore for small business. Social Media does.
I’m a boomer. 53 going on 54 in a couple of months. I’m not old. Older, maybe, but not old. And today, with so many centenarians around, I think I can actually get away with being called middle-aged.
So why are young salespeople are calling me “Young Lady”? “…And if the young woman will just sign right here,” they say with a condescending smile as they hand me the merchant copy of the sales slip. REALLY?!
It’s not cute. I am not flattered. Next maybe you’ll pat me on the head or start talking louder to me.
And why don’t I ever hear them say “Young Man” to my husband?
Granny can make it across the street
Yes, maybe I’m old enough to be their grandmother, but I am not the little old woman who needs help across the street or old like the “Veteran Reporter Herb Welch” on Saturday Night Live.
But I’m definitely young enough to stir up some trouble with the manager if I get one more condescending or patronizing smile. Actually, I am looking forward to getting really “old” just for the perks George Carlin mentioned in one of his later shows. (See video – R rated for language in case you weren’t paying attention when I said it was George Carlin.)
So, in the meantime, until I really get old, the next time a young, perky salesperson condescendingly calls me “Young Lady,” I’m afraid I won’t be quite the lady in response. And I’ll tweet all about it, too!
I was at the mall last week. I rarely go shopping in malls anymore since I prefer specialty shops for the great customer service. But there I was, reminded of my many years working retail.
You do a lot of observing customers when you work in retail, especially in a mall… and management time is often spent reading a plethora of corporate analyses of shopper habits and strategies. After my most recent visit to the mall, I can’t resist adding my own tongue-in-cheek counter comments…(sorry no graphs or bar charts here).
It’s not so much that I disagree with these studies, it’s just that my observations indicate that most mall shoppers just aren’t as serious about shopping as most reports make them out to be. And now you have to add the unknown of new Social Media discount and bar code scan apps throwing everything we thought we knew about shoppers out the window.
Apologies to Mother Goose…
Monday’s shopper returns their weekend shopping mistakes
Tuesday’s shopper still didn’t get it right
Wednesday’s shopper has nothing else to do
Thursday’s shopper is planning for the weekend
Friday’s shopper needs more stuff for the weekend
Saturday’s shopper brings the whole extended family in after brunch for a few necessities and double the amount of impulse purchases. Teens come in after dinnertime to hang out.
And the shopper who shops on Sundays either forgot something on Saturday, or they are a working pro who hates to shop (but finally must).
It’s really not all that complicated!
And for those of you who haven’t suffered this post enough…
Let’s get more specific in this “highly sophisticated” analysis:
Shop mostly for themselves and usually only in spurts, therefore driving themselves and salespeople crazy trying to accomplish a fiscal quarter’s worth of shopping in one lunch hour because they don’t want to shop after work or on weekends (unless there is absolutely no choice, i.e., holiday or special occasion shopping)
They are thrilled when mall shops take returns on online purchases!
The stroller crowd:
Shops 3-5 times a week because the pretty lights and sounds keep the babies happy and the stay-at-home moms/dads get to use polysyllabic vocabulary with other adults!
Purchases consist primarily of children’s clothing, toys, household goods and decorative items, and comfort clothing and footwear for themselves. And lots of coffee and chocolate.
The after school Crowd:
After school shopping for the next size assortment of their teen’s wardrobe because they woke up a size larger that morning or because they have worn the same shirt to school twice already.
Or after dinner shopping for the red shirt they have to wear for drug awareness day tomorrow (schools assume every child has a red shirt), school supplies and unusual items for the school project due tomorrow (assigned 2 weeks ago).
Weekend gardeners/ home project enthusiasts and sports nuts are waiting at the door anxiously waiting for you to open so they can get in and get out and have the rest of the day to themselves. They are annoyed you don’t open earlier.
Seniors who have been up since before dawn and are now half way into their day. Waiting for the doors to open is a social event for them. They also are annoyed you don’t open earlier.
Families sleep late and eat late on weekends, barely bother to change into street clothes (bordering on pj’s) to spend the entire afternoon with other first time home buyers to find lots of kitsch to fill all the new space (gnomes not excluded).
They also bring their toddlers and unwilling teens as this is their quality family time. You’ll find bored teens and dad’s escaping to the Electronics and TV aisles or sitting in the furniture section tweeting, texting or gaming. Smartphones and 3DSs are today’s replacement for social interaction or simple awareness of where one is at any moment in time.
Teens in heat - Weekend evenings are reserved for the cliques of teens strolling for admiring glances and ego boosts from their peers. Their purchases consist mostly of pushing their peers to buy things their own parents won’t let them buy with an underlying desire to get them in trouble.
Teen girls spend lots of time in makeup aisles in anticipation of when they are finally allowed to wear it. Earrings are allowed, so every pair must be held up to the ears for friends to oooooh and aaaaahhh.
Teen boys have no idea why they are there. They don’t want to buy anything, but they are told they can cruise chicks best at the mall. This is not true (see above re earrings and makeup), but they get occasional reinforcement at the food court which is enough for them to validate that flawed theory.
Well, that’s most of it… Malls are a virtual microcosm of suburban society.
Oh, I forgot! You can eat, go to the movies and shop for some great stuff, too! Oh, yeah, isn’t that what they were built for?
We were shopping in a store today and may have bought more if it weren’t for a salesperson turning our attention away from what we might have bought. HUH?
Yes, you heard right. We were on our way to the check out when we stopped at an end cap (a strategically merchandised area) and were watching a demo video (expensive add-on meant to hold our attention… which it did) when the cashier hollered out to us from behind her counter, “Are you ready to check out?”
We were so distracted by her call-out that we dutifully walked over immediately and checked out – completely forgetting our interest in the end cap merchandise.
Now I recognize that she “was just doing her job” as a cashier and letting us know she was available. But this was an end cap (prime real estate) with a built in video (pretty pricey merchandising) meant to get our attention – and she called us AWAY from it!
I am sure you know the moral to this story. She was not trained to be savvy to customer behavior. If she had, she would not have called us away from our interest in the carefully merchandised product and a potential purchase. To be even more proactive, she should have sent over a salesperson to increase our interest if she could not come over to us herself since we were so obviously interested. But since her primary function is as a cashier, she was doing exactly what she was trained to do – to make sure customers are checked out efficiently. As a result, she also efficiently thwarted potential sales.
I am sure that this very well merchandised end cap included a video player specifically to promote where a salesperson could not be positioned. Yet all this extra effort is sabotaged because a cashier was only trained to check us out as quickly as possible.
It seems managers just assume that all staff would be conscious of their efforts to sell the most merchandise. But if you train individual staff members with a hyper-focus on their specific job description, sales will suffer.
Train your staff to crossover their particular job descriptions for improved customer service and higher volume sales! At the very least, let the cashiers come out from behind the counter!
They are great for Twitter, texting, casual emails, and other casual social media because they say a lot in the fewest possible characters and help convey the correct meaning in an otherwise ambiguous communication venues.
BUT… please do not use them in professional communication.
Sealing the undermine deal
So why in a business blog am I making this point? Because I don’t think many business owners realize they are diminishing their reputation as a competent business person by using emoticons and exclamation points in their communiques with vendors, reps, bankers, employees, and more.
Especially women business owners. It’s hard enough work to get the male business world to immediately accept us at face value, but writing business memos and notes too casually may seal the undermine deal.
A friend of mine showed me an email from her tennis coach and it had 3 smileys within the email content and an exclamation point after her name when she signed off: “Katy!” She’s off to a serious professional future, ya think?
I had never seen anyone put an exclamation point after their name before. Ok – she was a very perky college age tennis coach – but she was charging some serious coaching fees! As she gets older, will business people hire her with all that perkiness and immaturity? Maybe – since it’s sports – but think about it…
Show your confidence in your communications
When I see emoticons in, for instance, a LinkedIn comment or Answers or worse yet in a discussion question, I want to just ask the person why they bothered if they are that unsure of themselves?
Huh, You say? Think about it. Pretend that instead of writing, you were talking face to face with someone. Would you make your comment and then flash a big grin :D or wink ;-)? I don’t think so.
The same goes for “!” Exclamation points are for texting teenagers: “OMG!”
When I see an exclamation point, I think teenage mentality. Or even worse, anger and maybe even disgust.
You erroneously stated I had been late to the meeting.
Now say it with an exclamation point:
You erroneously stated I had been late to the meeting!
BIG difference, huh? In the first one, you are stating fact. In the second one, you are definitely p—ed off!
um… did you get that? I was enthusiastic on that last word – or perhaps some veiled disgust…