By Steve Woodruff

Most companies will continue to gain new business through the drawn out, traditional methods of marketing and sales.  Those old paths continue to have tremendous validity and should not be abandoned quickly.  However, executives need to be aware that there is a flatter, quicker route to business growth through digital shortcuts, and this avenue will continue to gain importance.

For example, we recently had an oven go belly-up on us, just in time for the holiday baking season.  It was a smaller, older in-wall model and we needed it replaced fast.

While my wife worked some traditional channels for local appliance suppliers, I decided to see if social media could provide a shortcut.  So I put a message out on Twitter, and,  lo and behold, a friend I had met via social networking recommended a dealer he knew.  The dealer was (barely) within a viable geographical range.  Here’s how it unfolded:

How did this dealer end up with an instant new customer via a digital shortcut?

  1. They were good, so somebody recommended them (first and foremost in importance!).
  2. They were “find-able” online, and their website told a good business story.
  3. They were astonishingly responsive.  Within minutes, we had an online response, a phone call, and an estimate.
  4. They followed through.

Note that the most important factors are those things that have always been most important in establishing a reputable business.  There are no shortcuts to turning customers into fans.  But this company made it very easy for me to reach them through digital / social channels.  They went from totally unknown to my go-to supplier within minutes.  There were  probably 500 other dealers in the general area I could have reached out to, including some major big-box retailers. But this bit of business came about because of the digital shortcut of a Twitter-fueled recommendation.

Social media won’t make a bad business into a good one. But it will help the best companies grow via digital shortcuts, as people communicate within networks.  Help your fans create new fans by being easy to find and talk to on-line!

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