Today's post is a guest from our friend Jacquie Severs. As with other guest posts, Jacquie's article is not specific to incentives and channel marketing; anyone looking to engage in online and digital marketing of their brand can learn from this. Hope you enjoy!
There’s a lot of talk these days about creating a voice for your business that is authentic, engaging and social. This is beginning to create pressure on companies to join in the social media conversation. People ask me about making plans, ROI, models, time commitment….. What if, as an organization, you don’t feel entirely ready to do this whole social media thing? What if you don’t know what to say?
The truth is, being social about your business isn’t a new idea. If you can imagine a time when you would know the person you bought a product from on a first name basis, because you lived down the street from them, you can imagine the roots of what social media for business means today.
Since that time consumers have forgotten there are faces behind big business. They started to think of brands as giant machines that they couldn’t talk to. What the recent social media boom has provided is the ability for consumers to feel like they are able to interact with companies as if they are Jim from down the street. The best part of this is, if brand engagement is done well, your business has an unprecedented opportunity to connect with customers and make them loyal for life.
So you want to have a friendship. Ok, first you have to figure out what you’re bringing to the table. What is your personality? Are you a trustworthy, old fashioned company with strong family values? Are you a hip trendy company with tech-forward products and edgy advertising? Your online voice should directly relate to your brand, and if it does, it will directly relate to your customer.
Next, you should find someone that can help you craft that voice. That person might already be in your marketing team. And it’s more important that they get you as a brand than get social media. Social media applications can be learned in a workshop. Representing a brand appropriately is harder to teach and it is better if it comes naturally.
Then, begin every day knowing you must treat customers with respect, as if they are real-life friends. To have good friends, you must be a good friend. Don’t drown them in marketing messages. That’s like calling them and asking them to buy you a birthday gift. Keep it honest but appropriate—polite, engaging, humble, appreciative. Listen. Have fun. Be wacky, random and interesting. Talk about things other than your product, all the time. It builds trust, because it shows you aren’t there just to stuff the newest bargain down their throats. Then when you do mention your product, your friend is more likely to listen. Just like a great friendship, they’ll even mention you to their other friends. When was the last time a customer told their friend about one of your newspaper ads?
If done well, you’ll have a friend for life, and a direct line to the most important demographic your marketing team could ever reach—your actual customers.
Jacquie Severs is the Manager of Communications and Social Media at The Robert McLaughlin Gallery, teaches those same subjects at Durham College to students in the Media, Art, & Design programs, and is a freelance writer on topics such as fashion, design, and the arts. Occasionally, she sleeps. Connect with Jacquie on Twitter @JacquieSevers or Google +.