Earlier this week, I got the special opportunity to sit down with a group of key employees of a client that I have worked closely with for years. Our objective for the meeting was to discuss and explore ways to take the interactions between the business and its customers to the next level, with Social Media being at the core of this first discussion.
There are a few things that I know absolutely to be true about the current business climate. 1) We have more options than ever for products to choose and businesses to work with. 2)The ways in which we all communicate are have changed drastically. 3) Now, more than ever, we seek to be heard and to engage.
The group in the meeting this week was diverse. Some have been using social media, some have not. Some have already been interacting with the business through their social media and others have not. The level of experience and understanding of how social media is integrated in to our lives varied drastically as well.
The singular thing every person in that room had in common was their passion for the company they work for and the pride in the jobs they do.
Social Media and all that comes with it can be very confusing. One of the nicest things about it though, is that perfection is not required. We spent about an hour talking about the customers of the business and how to engage them through social media. In the end, it’s all about beginning the discussion between ourselves (both individually and the groups, organizations and companies we represent) and our audience (friends, customers, family, followers). Before the end of the day, everyone in that meeting had quickly begun to experiment with some of the new processes we discussed. It was a powerful reminder of why I am so passionate about the interactions I work endlessly to have every day with people.
When you truly care about what you do, it’s not always about the skills you bring to the table, it’s about the passion.
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Geico changed the insurance industry by adjusting the process by which insurance was sold, making it more efficient to be sold over the phone, thus giving a very specific audience what they wanted most: time. This was a complete change in the structure of the business built upon a very specific marketing strategy. This new structure allowed Geico the flexibility to afford billion dollar ad campaigns while continuing to offer some of the lowest rates in the industry. Geico is a major player in the insurance market not because of their enormous advertising campaign but because their marketing strategy is a fundamental element in the design of the company.
The biggest mistake I see marketers make is trying to sell themselves and their products to the masses. By trying to please everyone they end up pleasing very little overall and blending in.
For example, client A has product X to sell. They worry about trying to sell product X to as many people as possible, not concentrating on the faithful followers that are most likely to buy. There is a definite market out there for product X but instead of structuring the company around this market, Client A tries a little bit of everything with no real commitment to anything. In the end, Client A sees marginal success with this strategy and moves on to the next product, again, aiming for anyone and continuing to be an average company with average products for average customers.
As scary as it seems to change the way you do business based on a very specific market, the real risk lies in trying to reach everybody. Everybody is trying to reach everybody. It’s hard to stand out by taking that approach. What works is a much more narrow approach. Focus on the market that is willing to be reached, tweak your product so that it’s tailored to them even more specifically and speak to them over and over. When your product sells, focus on what your customers are saying and ask for their feedback. Engage them and they will expand your market share for you. Make your marketing strategy an innate part of the structure of your business, just as Geico has done. And instead of just hoping one day someone will need what you have to sell, give them the thing that they simply won’t want to live without.
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It sounds like a bunch of jargon. The terms are trendy. Some may not yet be in Merriam Webster…but likely they can be found in the Urban Dictionary. And by “in the dictionary” I do not mean go check the book out of your downtown library. Whatever it is that you prefer to call this shift in lifestyle, it’s not a craze and it’s definitely not going away.
There have always been fads and what’s currently en vogue will vary from one moment to the next. But I promise you, this is not a fad. There has been tremendous change to the way we live and communicate very recently and very quickly. Technology has altered the way we interact with each other. On the surface, it may seem less personal, as it’s easy to “hide” behind a screen of some sort. The truth is, we are revealing more about ourselves to a bigger audience every moment. And the world can’t get enough.
The digital revolution is not organized. It is scattered and wide and will never be consistent. Get over the belief that this movement is going to pass; we will not outlive it and it’s not necessary to understand it completely. Perfection is definitely not expected but new, constant and innovative is. There is no point in worrying about how to catch up or learn it all; the only requirement is participation.
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“Remember that half the things we worry about never happen, and the other half are going to happen anyway.” -Kemmons Wilson, Founder of Holiday Inn
These words have stayed with me since I happened upon them in a lobby of a Holiday Inn, while travelling for business. There are plenty of things to waste time on with worry. Most of those things are out of our control. Instead, this week, I have a challenge for myself. Instead of worry, I am going to use that time to recognize the beautiful, yet small and often unnoticed things that are constantly around us. For me, those words have served as a reminder to embrace success and failure as equally important, that nothing is perfect, nor is it necessary to be. I am always happiest and at my best when I take the time I reserve for worry and spend it on giving.
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We have choices, lots of them. Why should we choose you? You may think we will choose you because you have the best product , the biggest, the award-winning, the flashiest. But honestly, we don’t care. We don’t care how many attachments your product has, or that it has a 3,000 thread count, or that it’s been tried and tested….for 79 years.
It’s not about the product. It’s about how our lives will changes once we have your product. Paint us a picture, invoke our emotions, tell us a story that we can make our own and then help us share it.
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Yesterday I learned that a new product I had been fighting hard to launch might not do all we thought it could. The product will likely be useful to someone in some degree but it certainly isn’t the game changer we’ve been looking for.
Of course, I’m disappointed. But I’m not discouraged. We uncovered interest and a need and it’s a great motivator to listen, learn and to move forward. This lackluster launch did not set us back; it set us in motion. There is an opportunity and we’re better equipped to find a solution. Those who missed this opportunity will likely miss the next…and the next.
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