It Ain’t Your Grandfathers Marketing Strategy

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The following is a guest post by Roger Pike, VP of Corporate Training for Communication Steroids, a public speaking/media training company. Roger is a long time public speaker, radio news director, and currently Communications Director for the Marion County (Oregon) Democratic Party.

Public relations professionals, marketers, ad executives and visionary business leaders see it coming.  Every day consumers become more dependent on information they get on-line.  A lot of that information, and soon most of it, comes through social media.  People are asking their friends what they should buy.  And folks are blogging, tweeting, and posting to their Facebook page their reactions to products, and the service they get when they go to buy.  It’s adapt or get left behind, for, in the immortal words of Bob Dylan, “the times, they are a-changing.”

Great challenges lie ahead, though, because, even those who recognize the growing relevance of the interactive internet often approach it’s idiosyncrasies with a traditional mind-set. Unfortunately, the new game will be played by new rules.  It’s time to leave some of our preconceptions behind.  Social media marketing is different, and companies and entrepreneurs must think differently to use social media effectively.  Here are some of my thoughts regarding the brave new social media world.

1)   It’s personal. Traditionally, it’s about brand…and creating the link in peoples minds between that brand and good results.  But in the new interactive world it’s more about relationships. Social media is about reaching out and touching someone, personally.  People won’t pay as much attention to your company logo in your social media effort, they’ll see YOU.  Yes, branding still matters, even in the social media.  But not as much as in the past…and certainly not as much as the personal touch.

2)   Everybody tweets. Social media marketing is different than traditional efforts because EVERYBODY represents your company.  The guy in the back you hired for exceptional accounting skills is just as much part of the company image as that fresh scrubbed young marketing rep you hired for their people skills.  EVERYBODY tweets, or at least, can tweet, so, in a sense, your marketing department just got a whole lot bigger…for better or worse.

3)   Pay Attention at all times. Traditional campaigns did their market research, chose the strategies to reach their demo, designed the campaign, launched…then sat back and waited for the metrics.  Now the response from your clients is ongoing.  You can tweak based on the reaction you get instantly through the social media.  So, LISTEN, really listen.  Don’t just say your going to listen.  Do it.  Really.

4)   Start now, begin anywhere. The old strategy relied on the “tried and true.”  But it’s a brave new world.  You can’t afford to sit on the sidelines on this one.  You’ve got to get into the game.  Big, small, young, or old the social media is the town square of the future.  It’s where people talk, it’s where a huge and growing number get advice.  It’s where they decide.  Conversations about your brand and products are happening all over the web.  You need to go hard or go home.

Learn a new meaning for ROI.  Everyone knows ROI means “return on investment” and the suits make traditional ROI the centerpiece of their decision to refuse a commitment to social media.  Let’s adopt a new definition for the acronym.  Let’s call it “risk of ignorance.”  Ignore the social media at your peril.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Ed Yourdon