Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Why Do Psychic Fairs Advertise? And Your Customers Don’t Have ESP

I have always been somewhat bemused when I hear radio ads or see billboards for Psychic Fairs. My assumption is that at minimum, those who are exhibiting their "skills" don't need to be solicited to participate as they should "see" any upcoming events pertinent to their genre and those who are interested may also have an "inside" track on this type of event. In the B2B customer relationship world, on the other hand, communication and engagement with our prospects has always been a critical activity and the world of marketing is obviously predicated on finding the secret sauce that will entice participants to join our events, review our materials, and participate in discussions with us.

In my continued exploration and curiosity around the SMN explosion, however, I am seeing a clear demarcation between those companies who are taking a shotgun approach to communication, advertisement and marketing in a misguided attempt to not miss the "boat" and those companies who are assuming that their clients are active participants in communities and social media sites and they can engage strictly as observers or rely on virtual word-of-mouth that is the foundation of these mechanisms to drive customers and prospects to their more formal websites and material. As I have stressed in previous posts, I think these positions on either end of the conversational spectrum are both indicative of our failure to establish a strategy for SMN participation prior to implementing our interaction and our confusion and still trepidation about how we should play in this sandbox. In short, our customers still do not have ESP and it is an inherent responsibility to let them know that we are "out there." I might go so far as to suggest that it is hugely presumptuous and egotistical to adopt a "field of dreams" approach to our social media and networking implementation. Just as we have used traditional email campaigns, newsletters and other methods for updating clients and prospects about new features, websites, conferences, etc., we need to adopt a similar approach to evangelizing about our entry into the world of on-line communities and profiles. I think a customized social media assessment or audit is appropriate on a company by company basis, but here are a few starter steps that I might suggest once you have decided to enter the Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, social soup:

  1. Add links to your new corporate profiles, Twitter addresses, community invitations to your website.
  2. Include announcements of your presence and a statement of your objective in newsletters, email campaigns, blogs, etc.
  3. Invite current clients to participate by launching a "membership drive".
  4. Interview reference clients from any beta tests you have done with new support infrastructures or forums that have utilized social networking and publish the interviews.
  5. Survey your clients about their participation in social networks and include their corporate Linkedin profile addresses, Twitter accounts, blog addresses, etc. in your CRM or SFA database.
  6. Use some of the embedded communication functionality in the social network applications to evangelize and spread the word.
  7. Ask your employees (particularly your sales, marketing and support personnel) to comb their contacts, connections, and friends for presence in social networks.
  8. Rinse and repeat often as the growth statistics are exponential and profiles and accounts in the SMN world change far more often than email addresses.

I hope these "top of brain" initial thoughts are helpful; at minimum interesting.

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