Yeah, I mean you.
I see you sitting there scratching your head, trying to figure out Social Media for your business, hoping that at last, this Social Media thing will come to your rescue, pull your business out of the doldrums and put leads and customers in your sales funnel before you can say “Walmart”.
Your business is suffering, competition has moved in to your target market, or you just can’t seem to turn shoppers into buyers. You’ve been to a few seminars, you’ve read the newsletters, and you’ve leaped out there into the Social Media jungle, posting away about your business and wondering when the customers you were promised are going to darken your doorstep?
Guess what? They are not coming, Bunkie.
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I know, I know, that Social Media Consultant told you that it was practically automatic. They told you that all you had to do was get online and start engaging with others, and people would flock to your business like bees to honey. They cashed your check, went away, and here you are, tweeting like a madman, liking every post on your wall, and making sure that your company is impossible to miss through your ad buys in the demographics of your choosing.
You thought the phone would be ringing, but all you’ve got is the sound of crickets. Or you may even be getting tons of likes but paltry conversion to sales.
Well Bunkie, you need to stop, because Social Media just doesn’t work that way. Social Media cannot, and will not fix a bad business. If you had no clients before your social media presence, you will likely have even fewer after, because you will be broadcasting to millions about just how much your business actually sucks.
Before Social Media can work for you, there are a few things you need to ask yourself, and be brutally honest in your answers. Are you ready?
1. Are you an Expert in your field?
I don’t mean familiar, competent, or even reputable. I mean EXPERT. If not, why not? And why should I not seek out an expert in your field, instead of doing business with you? When others ask about your business, almost no question about your products or services, or their attached value-proposition should stump you. If you do not love what you do to the extent of educating yourself about your vertical, why do it at all?
2. Have you developed a strong Brand?
What can people expect from a business transaction from you? Does your name sound familiar? Our others the slightest bit aware of what you do? Is your brand authentic, compelling and memorable, and what it is that makes you superior to your competition? No? Sorry, tell me again, why you should be my choice?
3. Have you gotten the word out?
Assuming that your answers to #1 and #2 are positive, how have you been letting people know this about your badass company? Do you have anything that I can link to online? When I Google the name of your business, what am I going to see, besides your name? Do I find you easily when I search for what I’m looking for or do I find most of your competitors first? What if I need to buy right now? Will I get a map telling me where you are? Will I get directions? Will I get any former customers singing your praises? Will I get a well-formatted list of pages from your web site that I can use to learn about you, rather than a single line of text? Have you even Google’d yourself lately to find out what others are seeing about you?
4. Do you have infallible end-to-end customer experience?
Are you sure ALL your customer contact business processes are customer centric and efficient? Do they all ensure customers making contact with you have a great or, at the very least, a positive experience? Are your employees well trained with recovery action plans for when things go wrong? If you have challenges in this area before you are active in Social Media, your problems can be publicly amplified in ways you may currently find hard to imagine. As well, when potential customers fall between the cracks due to poor customer contact experience, all the effort made prior to the loss is an expensive write off. On the other hand, customers who extol outstanding customer experiences provide you with a hard to beat competitive advantage.
5. Are you at or near profitability?
Superior products and services tend to sell themselves. Do you have them? Why not? Why are you in this business? Did someone tell you that you can make a fortune from your kitchen table in 10 easy steps? Can you explain the totality of your offerings in less than 30 seconds, or do you need to explain yourself, your business and the market conditions to a potential customer BEFORE telling them what you do, just so they do not laugh and eventually put your company on the “Do-Not-Call-List?
If you show up all over Social Media before you have positive answers to those five simple questions, you are going to broadcast your business’ deficiencies to millions around the word before the value-proposition of your business can get its pants on. Your company is simply not ready! Ultimately, you would benefit from just cooling your Social Media jets until you are.
Better to quiet down, and fix the foundation of your business before you go out there and annoy your target market, who will classify your posts as SPAM, because they have no idea why you have made it on to their stream. They do not care about you, or your product, because they have no idea who the hell you are. You have not established a strong and positive brand. In the extreme you may actually be doing your competitors a favor!
If you are an expert, surely you have writings somewhere that show your expertise? Something that has been positively received by others, leading viewers to think you might just be onto something? If your marketing is solid, I don’t need you to tell me where to find you, or what it is that makes your solution better than the other guy’s. You don’t need to explain anything to me, because your web site, marketing materials, testimonials, writings, etc., have already done that for you. Potential customers contact you because they are already impressed.
Do you understand the power of a positive customer review? Got any? Your competition does, so I suggest you make it your business to go out there and make someone happy. So happy, that they want to shout about their experience from the rooftops. Trade their review for a coupon if you must, but get that review!
Except for gummi bears and gasoline, very few people buy anything from a stranger. So, don’t be a stranger. Are you or your business active in your community? Do you sponsor a little league team? Are you involved with any local charitable entities? Get yourself and your business known outside Social Media before trying to get known through Social Media. It is kinda important that when you do create your awesome Social Media presence, that you actually have something about yourself to talk about, right? When people get to know you, they see evidence that you’re not only real, you give them many reasons to like you.
Okay, so now that you have taken the time and energy to fix what was mentioned above, you can turn your strong brand, your superior marketing, your awesome customer service and your obvious value-proposition into a gold mine through Social Media.
The funny thing that you might notice, is that when you have done all of the above, your business will have improved to the point where you might ask yourself whether you need Social Media at all. The answer is, of course you need a Social Media presence. You need it to turn your now healthy business in to a thriving enterprise beyond your wildest dreams.
When, and ONLY when you have made your business ready to rock, go ahead and pick up Social Media again, and be careful out there.
I’m watching you, Bunkie.