With so many social media tools available today, you’d think it would be easier to market your business. Sure, you’ve heard urban legends about relatively unknown small businesses that are amassing thousands of followers online and creating unprecedented demand for their products. It seems as if all you have to do is ask your family and friends to be “fans” of your business, and voila, customers will be lining up outside your door.
Of course, if you’ve ventured into the social media waters, you know this scenario is far from reality. So how do some businesses have success with social media while others struggle?
Here’s the secret: It doesn’t matter how many social media tools you’ve mastered—the key to building real connections online is to first build them offline. It’s as simple as taking what you do every day when you’re talking with customers and then building on those relationships using e-mail and social media tools.
This is actually easier than you may think when you apply the following three-step engagement marketing process:
Create great customer experiences. Focus on providing outstanding service and superior products so that customers will return and tell others about their experiences with you.
Want to read more on customer relations? Check these out:
- What Do Customers Really Want?
- 9 Bad Behaviors That Are Sending Your Customers To Your Competitors
- American Business: Converting Customers
Effectively use e-mail communications to connect with customers. Once you’ve successfully established authentic connections with your customers, foster stronger ties to them through regular, informative e-mail communications. Given that effective is the key word here, remember to always ask permission to send these people e-mail communications and steer away from the hard sell. For example, when people receive your newsletter, it should inform and delight by providing useful information that showcases your expertise and can’t easily be found anywhere else.
Use social media to create and extend those customer conversations, and invite others to join too. Once you’ve succeeded with step two, you can take those relationships to the next level by bringing them into the social media realm. This allows you to have real-time conversations with your customers and extend the dialog with a wider audience. Ideally, that wider audience consists of your customers’ network of friends, family and colleagues.
Whether you’ve amassed a vast amount of followers and fans, or you’re still figuring out how social media fits into your marketing efforts, keep in mind that quality of communications and relationships will always supersede quantity.
Once you’ve been following the three-step process to creating lifetime customer relationships, you’ll find that it’s a much more efficient path to generating new sales than spending more money on advertising and marketing. This is because you’re building more engaging customer relationships on a one-on-one basis and are able to amplify those efforts using social media tools. For example, if you’re spending money on advertising, it only makes sense that you advertise to an audience that is going to be highly receptive to your message. Otherwise, the investment in advertising is wasted.
What all of this means is that you can finally stop wasting time and money on those fruitless spray-and-pray marketing tactics like tucking flyers onto windshields and inside doorways. Say goodbye to the temp wearing a sandwich board and a silly hot dog costume to hawk the daily lunch special. Now is the time to bring on the social media tools that enable us to develop authentic connections with our customers and grow our online network—but only after we’ve made the connection in the real world.