The good news is that UK small businesses and organisations are now realising the significance of social media. The bad news is that many register with as many platforms as they know without really knowing what to do next. Not planning in advance can lead to lots of wasted time and disillusionment in the whole process. Social marketing is not an overnight success. It’s like any networking – it takes time, it’s about relationships.
Planning is as important as in any business process, so I’ve put together a straightforward 8 step guide that will help you get started.
1) Sit down with your team and decide what you want to achieve. Are you looking to increase the number of newsletter or brochure sign ups or maybe become better known for a particular product/service?
2) Research your customers and potential customers. Are they active on social media? What are they looking at? What do they want to know? If you can’t find out ask them
3) Once you know where your customers are you can decide the most suitable social platforms to use to speak to them
4) If you don’t already have one, create and use a company blog. This will form the core that will drive all your other communication
5) Once you’re up and ready spend time listening (or reading) doesn’t just dive in. Gradually build your network and start building relationships
6) Ok, you’ve spent some time listening to what people are saying now you can start to add your comments. Look at what’s being said in groups related to your market and add your voice
7) Start to post your own content. This can be a mixture of original material or sharing content from other people that you think your network will find interesting. Where possible help people
8) Monitor and measure. Most social platform have their own analytics plus there are some free ad-ons you can use before moving to more sophisticated paid ones. The beauty of social media is that you can see it working.
The biggest trap to avoid is overtly selling. I see lots and lots of posts that are pure and simply direct selling. The clue is in the name, SOCIAL media. Today people dislike being sold to. Everyone does some research first and always deal with people they trust. Social media is a means to gain that trust and to make sure that when someone is looking to buy a widget, your widgets are already implanted in their mind.
Are you struggling to find your ideal customer?
To begin with, particularly if you are a start-up or small business, you need to consider who your ideal customer is.
I wonder how many of you created a Buyer Profile before you started trading? A profile that looked at demographics, the key problems encountered and identifiers that make your ideal customer look at your product or service.
Once that’s done you need to think how to can reach them and more buyers like them.
This is an area where many businesses fall down. I have worked with so many organisations who make assumptions about where to find these buyers but that’s what they are, assumptions. You must take the time and do the research that will confirm or deny their accuracy.
If you want to reach your ideal customer you need to know where they spend their time, both real and virtual.
Are they reading industry blogs or news sites, is it the type of industry that likes printed material or digital, are they likely to read newsletters , or do they attend networking groups, trade shows or local association meetings?
To find out, survey your current and past clients, don’t be afraid to ask them – it shows that getting it right is important to you.
Hopefully, you will see a pattern emerge with several of your best clients giving the same responses. You can use this to help get your message right where it needs to be.
It doesn’t matter how strong your USP is or how powerful your value proposition, if the message isn’t reaching the right people your whistling in the wind.
Take some time and think about:
Have you surveyed your current and past clients to create a Buyer Profile?
Do you know if your marketing is being seen by your ideal clients?
If you’re looking for help to get this done give me a call or email.
It’s no good complaining to your agency about a failed campaign unless you can be sure you gave them, or allowed them to obtain, all the information required to develop the right creative message. To achieve this you must develop a comprehensive brief that includes the following.
Your campaign objectives – is this brand awareness, increased market share, diversification, etc.
Your target market – you should have undertaken market research before now that describes who your market is, what they buy, how they reach purchasing decisions.
What is your products USP (Unique Selling Point/Proposition) – Why should it be purchased above a competitor, what makes it different
Your core message – what you are offering the customer – further information, a chance to sample, special offers
Your call to action – How you want potential customers to respond – request information, call a telephone line, go to your website
Media – where your message is going to be delivered. More reasons to have conducted research
What supporting activities will be required – point of sale, telemarketing, exhibitions
This is vital information that will help creatives approach the job in a logical way, ensuring all the relevant facts are taken into account and that the copy and creative ideas fit the task.
A brief of this nature is vital whether you are using outside suppliers or your own in house team.
In a competitive environment it is vital that potential users are clear about why they should choose you above anyone else. This applies whether you are selling a product, service or indeed attracting funding. Differentiation is key in a crowded arena but often you are so busy working in the business that these questions don’t get asked, so when I first start talking to an organisation one of the first things I do is to get them to ask questions that very often they assume they already know the answers to.
Often the questions will relate to the organisation as a whole and sometimes they are product/service related. Here then are the 17 questions you should ask yourself when thinking about differentiation. I have made them product based but they can easily be adapted to an organisational basis.
1. What is the present position of product or service?
2. Where do we want it to be in the future? (Give yourself a time period)
3. What opportunities are there in the next 2 years and why?
4. Do we need to make changes to the product or service beyond its current strengths/positioning to take advantage of these opportunities?
5. What are the greatest threats?
6. Can we control these threats? If so, how?
7. Does the product or service offer something better than the competitors?
8. How does the customer benefit?
9. When someone buys the product or service what are the top three reasons they give?
10. What are the top three objections given by for not using the product or service?
11. What percentage of next year’s revenue is expected from new vs. existing customers?
12. What are the characteristics of our ideal customer? (Market segment, size of organisation, job position, motivators, internal and external influencers, buying habits, factors in buying decisions, social media, associations, publications, trade shows.)
13. Who are our key competitors?
14. Who is our competition targeting?
15. How do we want to be seen relative to the competition?
16. What is the typical sales process for our product/service?
17. What are the values and personality we want to project for the product or service?
David Hassell - DLH Marketing
Small organisations in particular are often reluctant to channel some of their limited resources to Market Research or focus groups when we all know that market research is essential to any business. Only by offering products or services that are focussed and targeted to your customer’s needs will you be successful. Only by knowing how your present customers feel can you prevent client ‘drop-off’ and only by knowing how your employees feel can you maintain a productive workforce.
A business decision that is based on knowledge will reduce risk and pay dividends so it’s important that market research becomes an ongoing business process rather than an occasional exercise. By conducting market research throughout the life of a product or service your planning will be focussed and proactive rather than chaotic and reactive.
Even before you start a business, market research is essential to tell you if there will be a demand for your product or service. This will not only help you decide whether to go ahead with the business, but it will provide the information you need to work out if there will be the volume needed to make the business worthwhile. This is important information when drawing up a business plan for potential investors.
We are in an age where poor customer service can be instantly shared. By asking your customer the right questions you not only show that you care but you also take the guess work out of customer services. Market research will improve the way you communicate. Listening to your customers experiences you will be able to gauge how well you meet their expectations and be fully aware of the areas you’re getting right and those where you are failing.
Good market research will help you work out who your customers are, their average age, gender, income, occupation. If your customers are other businesses, the research will help you work out how big they are, who their customers are and who makes the purchasing decisions. This is not always the buyer so you need to be able to tailor your message to the right person.
Market research is an ongoing process, something everyone in the organisation is aware of whether in a general sense or product/service specific. Please don’t fail because ‘you didn’t know’.
David Hassell – DLH Marketing
David has worked in advertising and marketing services for 30 years both client and agency side. Having worked with local, national and muliti-national clients, he set up DLH Marketing to help small organisations, owner managed businesses and those organisations without in-house marketing.