Without giving out too much information about my age and how long I have been in business, I can tell you that when I was first starting out I received a lot of advice from mentors about the importance of:
- Determining the skills,services, products, benefits, etc. I could provide or what is now referred to as the “offer.”
- Selecting the customer target or what is now called “marketing niche” I wished to meet.
- Identifying the approaches I would use to connect me and my services to prospects and customers or what is now discussed as “networking.”
The fundamentals of business have not changed. The methods may have evolved, the technology to accomplish tasks has; but the outcomes have not.
I bring this up because of late there have been a rash of emails, direct mail pieces, and even a few telephone calls trying to convince me that my website needs upgrading, I need to migrate to new platforms, I am late to the party to leverage social media opportunities, etc. I have even been curious enough to participate and listen to some of the sales pitches, demonstrations, case studies, testimonials, etc. What has come through loud and clear is that there is an awful lot of shamans and snake oil sales people preying on the uninitiated.
Social Media sites (I am lumping Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter into this categorization) are primarily designed for socialization. While there are attempts made by businesses to “monetize” their efforts on these sites, it still boils down the same business principles:
- Giving prospects and customers something of value (in the digital world, that means links to content, discounts, early notification of new products, etc.)
- Providing customer service at expected or above expected levels (in the digital world, that means offering responsiveness, having all links functional, follow-up on requests, etc.).
What is far less certain is how to translate the race for “likes” or “friends” into actual revenue. The misguided view that “clicks” count, or that accumulating “fans” is equivalent to money pervades many attempts to maximize social media presence. Only money counts as money. The escalation of people connecting with the company or the brand may be a start – but only if it translates to actual business. Watching the counter reach six figures is ego gratifying, but does nothing to add dollars to the till.
This is similar to the discussion that NEEDS to be had in executive offices around the difference between “KPI’s” (Key Performance Indicators) and Objectives. KPI’s are not the same as performance as tracked and measured by the business. It is an indicator only. Something that may be correlational or perhaps causal, but is NOT the performance. Saying you will collect forty names a day from your email newsletter is not the same as picking up forty new customers (or even one!). Growing a mailing list is non-revenue generating if those new subscribers to webinars, free incentive downloads, blog readers, etc. do not purchase from you.
While being active in social media provides an avenue and an opportunity to reach more prospects and remain in touch with existing customers inexpensively, and permits tailored messaging or offers, it is not the same as selling new business to them. The basics of business have not changed. Depressing a keyboard character is not writing a check. While we have entered into a new business world in many ways – that has not changed.