Selling was so much easier when I first hit the streets nearly forty-five years ago. At my first sales job, I didn’t even need to do any prospecting. Telemarketers unearthed all of the leads. In most cases, they even made the appointment for me. My task was to make the presentation and close the sale.
At later sales jobs, I did my own phone prospecting. Direct mail also helped me developed leads. I even learned a few surefire tricks for talking my way past a receptionist. I got pretty good at using these different sales tools and techniques.
Since then, times have changed. I blame it on technology. With voicemail, few people answer calls anymore – me included. Most direct mail goes in the garbage. I can’t even charm the receptionist to find out who to talk to because many businesses don’t have receptionists or secretaries. And at some companies, the doors are locked.
A shoe shine and a smile doesn’t cut it anymore in B2B selling anymore. The internet changed the way prospects buy. In most cases, buyers research products online and have made their buying decision long before speaking to a sales person. That means that if you want to succeed at selling in the 21st century, you need to include social media as part of your marketing strategy. While social media may not be most important part of your marketing strategy, it can play a significant role in complementing your other efforts and delivering your message.
So what should that message be? The challenge for most companies is that their products and services are viewed as commodities. Buyers believe that what one sign company can provide is not that much different from what another can provide. Your challenge is to change that prejudice. The only way that you can alter that mindset and differentiate your products and services is to provide added value in the way of useful information. I would contrast this with old school, chest-pounding marketing extolling the features, benefits and advantages of products.
Your goal is to establish yourself as the authority or expert in your field by providing this valuable information online. Building an online presence is akin to building your personal brand. It not only sets you apart from other sales people, but it increases your value to your employer. The goal of this story is to provide you with a social media blueprint to build your company’s brand, get more followers and engagement and ultimately grow your sales.
What Social Media Can and Cannot Do For You
More than 95% of consumers and business people go online to search for information about products and services. A high percentage of these searches ultimately result in purchases. That’s good news if you have an active online presence – not so much if your visibility is limited.
Social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, can play an important role in your marketing plan. In fact, it can contribute to your sales and profit goals. Make no mistake about it, though, social media will not build a personal relationship for you. And it will not make the sale for you in a business in which you are making a custom product, such as a sign, environmental graphics or a vehicle wrap.
On the other hand, here is what social media can do for you:
● Attract attention to your company.
● Drive traffic to your website and your blog.
● Strengthen your company’s branding.
● Stimulate interest in your products and services.
● Reinforce your messaging across a range of channels.
● Position you and your company as an authority in your field.
The primary purpose of any of these marketing tools, whether it is social media, email marketing, website or any of the other traditional forms of advertising and marketing, is to get you face-to-face, belly-to-belly with the prospect. Only then can you begin to understand his or her needs and problems, and start to develop a true relationship between one human being and another.
The very nature of a job shop business such as a sign shop or digital printer requires an intimate understanding of the customer’s business objectives so you can craft a unique graphics solution that solves his or her problems. Your ability to provide value to your customers will determine the degree to which your business is successful.
What Are Your Social Media Goals?
I am all for charging head first into a project. That approach prevents procrastination. Your enthusiasm, however, should be tempered with some soul searching. You need to answer the big “why” of social media before you do anything else.
I get it. Social media is the cool thing to do. But it is also an activity that can easily divert your time and energy from other, more productive business activities. On the other hand, used properly social media channels allow you to reach your target markets for minimal cost. What’s important is that your goals for each of these platforms are specific, measurable and relevant.
Your presence on different social media channels should be just one piece in your sales and marketing plan. Social media is not a be all and end all to generating sales and profit. What you must determine is how your social media activities align with your other sales and marketing objectives. With each activity that you initiate, you should ask yourself how it will help you achieve your marketing goals.
As part of your overall marketing strategy, social media can play a powerful role in your marketing plan by strengthening your branding and driving traffic to your website or blog. Greater online visibility will contribute to higher retention of existing customers, and will generate new opportunities that get you face to face with prospects resulting in profitable sales.
“Social media is an important component of our marketing plan in promoting our new Lumina brand,” say George Marsh, VP of Marketing for FDC Graphic Films, Inc. in South Bend, Indiana. “By using different platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, we can efficiently and cost-effectively broadcast our message when we introduce new products or rebadge current products under the new brand.”
“While we sell strictly to distributors,” Marsh says, “our social media efforts are primarily directed at the sign shops and printers that they serve. Our goal is to create a grass roots demand for our products which we can pull through our distribution partners.” Marsh explains that the FDC social media strategy is one part of the company’s overall marketing plan, which complements their increased participation at tradeshows along with more traditional advertising and sales promotion. It also dovetails with their support of their distributors, which includes product training, participation at open houses and end user calls.
Once you have decided upon your marketing objectives and messaging, make sure that your employees are aware of the company’s sales and marketing strategy and the role that social media plays in it. The larger your organization becomes, the more important it is that everyone understands the company’s objectives and works together to achieve a common goal.
The secret to developing a successful social media marketing strategy is to adhere to a three step procedure:
Step one: Take the time to carefully develop a plan. This plan should include a schedule for posting and assign activity responsibilities.
Step two: Faithfully execute that plan. As you are putting your plan in action, you should track your activity on each social media channel as well as record the responses that you generate.
Step three: Regularly evaluate your results and adjust the plan accordingly. In your evaluation, you need to compile the social media analytics; establish what went right; determine what went wrong and why; and finally, conclude how you should revise your plan so you can improve your results. In analyzing the effectiveness of your social media efforts, you may also want to solicit any input from your outside sales people and other employees that interact with your customers. This third step is the most important part of the process, because evaluation is where learning and improvement occurs.
Don’t Send Mixed Signals:
Maintaining a Consistent Image
Each social media platform uses a different layout. As best you can, you should strive to project a consistent company image across all of your social media platforms. Use the same user name so it is easy for customers and prospects to find you online. You should also use the same profile photo, header photo, bio and corporate imagery. What’s more, you should deliver a consistent message in both tone and content.
Brand consistency is important because you want to project a unique identity that will attract attention and leave your site visitor with a favorable and memorable visual impression. To achieve a stunning visual identity across all of your social media platforms, you should use similar colors, fonts, layouts and imagery. These graphical elements should also be visually consistent with your website, blog, email communication and traditional print media.
Which Social Media Platforms Should You Use?
Deciding which social media channel is best for your business will depend on which channels your customers use. The best way to discover that is to ask them. You should also monitor the social media channels that your competitors are using. Of course, no one has time to be on every social media channel. For that reason, you should limit yourself to those that you can do well.
For a small shop, you may consider enlisting the support of your employees. Chances are that most of them will have something to contribute and will relish the opportunity to express themselves. By recognizing their input you help build their self-esteem and confidence. What’s more, their engagement in your social media venture may transform into a team building activity.
Social Media Rules for Businesses
Engaging your employees in the social media process does not mean that you should abdicate control of the messaging. If you assign your company’s messaging to an employee, you still should provide direction regarding business objectives, as well as what is and is not appropriate. Here are some rules to help you maintain control of your messaging:
● Never cross the line between personal use of social media and professional use for your business. We all have opinions regarding politics, religion and our society. If you don’t keep your opinions to yourself, you will likely alienate a segment of your audience.
● Never lie in a post or post claims that are misleading or inaccurate. When you get caught in a lie, and you will get caught, you only damage your reputation and your company’s brand.
● Never spam your followers with messages, which are strictly sales promotional. Your audience is looking for content that provides value in the form of useful information. Merely posting advertising is at best annoying.
● Never ignore the comments or messages of your followers. In business, whole purpose of social media is to develop a dialog that builds relationships and leads to sales. When you ignore a response, you let an opportunity slip between the cracks.
● Never post derogatory messages about a competitor or someone in the industry. Whenever you start an online fight, your reputation might end up bloodied. What’s more, you often will look like a bully, or the other party may post something damaging about you.
● Never use vulgar, inappropriate or potentially insensitive language in a post. “How you craft your wording requires thought and extreme care,” says Earl Mich Company VP Greg McKay. “Many people today are very sensitive and may misconstrue your messaging.”
● Never post a photo which does not belong to you. What can I say other than “Thou shalt not steal.”
Social Media Rules for Employees
● Never complain on your personal social media platforms about your company or anyone in your company. It should be obvious that this is not a good career move.
● Never post material of a sexual nature or racial slurs. This is just socially inappropriate behavior.
● Never post an embarrassing photo or a doctored photo of a fellow employee, no matter how funny you may think it might be.
● Never post a threatening message online.
The Role of Your Website and Blog
In your sales and marketing strategy, your website or blog should serve as the nucleus for the social media platforms. The objective is that the different channels will attract potential customers to your website or blog, providing you with the opportunities to present your services that result in prospects calling you and ultimately buying your products.
If you don’t have a blog, you should start one. Posting articles will go a long way in helping you in establishing your reputation as an industry authority. This is important because prospects only want to buy from sources that they trust.
The goal of your blog should be to attract traffic by providing the visitor with value in the form of content that they can use. This should be relevant information that answers questions or solves problems for your target market. That way, when the potential buyer is actually looking for commercial graphics, they will call you as a potential supplier and problem solver.
How you present your content is also important. Your stories not only should be relevant and interesting, but the words that you select to use matter. Here’s why. The search engines continually scan your content for the keywords that readers use in searches. In writing your posts, you should use keywords repeatedly in your content that rank high with the search engines. (The way to discover which keyword combinations work best is use a keyword research tool, such as Google Adwords.)
As important as the written word is in constructing your blog post, your visuals are just as important, especially since sign makers and digital printers are in the visual communication business. Good photography of your projects as well as graphs and videos support the written content and make blogs much more interesting and unique.
9 Tips for Writing More Effective Blog Posts
In writing a blog post, here are 9 tips which can make your stories more interesting and will help build site traffic:
1. Limit your blog posts to a single unique and interesting topic. For example, “5 Surprising Facts About Vehicle Wraps”. Your posts don’t need to be long. In fact, it is better that you limit their length to 500 to 1000 words. Better yet, give the readers just enough information, leaving them wanting to know more so that they will contact you. This is similar to the cliff hanger technique that television writers use at the end of a program so the viewer tunes in for the next episode.
2. Four out of five people never read past most headlines. That’s why it is so important that you make your headlines enticing, so they arouse the reader’s curiosity and they want to read on. The headline ideally should be no longer than 6 words and limited to fewer than 60 characters. Example: “7 Fundamental Rules When Buying Signage”.
3. Before you post a story, check it for any grammatical or spelling errors. Then have your spouse or a friend proofread it. A well-written article will help project a professional image.
4. I am sure that you have heard of the KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) rule. This rule applies to writing. Avoid industry jargon. Tell your story as if you were explaining the topic to your mother. Keep your sentences short and sweet. And keep the tone of your writing conversational.
5. If you make a claim in your blog post or on your website or even in a brochure, back that claim with evidence. You can produce evidence in a number of different forms. It can be in the form of statistics from a study. Or you can use a testimonial from a satisfied customer as well as before and after photography of the project.
6. An effective format for writing a blog post is to present a problem that your target market might be facing or can relate to and then solve it. In a way, that’s really how you should present your business. The customer really doesn’t care about you or your machinery or the cool things that you can make with these machines; instead, they care about solutions to their problems.
7. Never forget that the goal of your blog is to generate sales leads. At the end of the blog, make sure that you include a call for action. What does that mean? If you are writing a story about “Floor Graphics that Accelerate Sales Traffic”, tell the reader that if they want to know more about effective graphics programs, to call you today.
8. Continually developing interesting and informative content is demanding. When you don’t have time to create something entirely new, there is nothing wrong with recycling a past blog post rewritten from a different angle.
9. Once you create content for your blog, try adapting it to another platform such as YouTube. Repurposing the content on a number of platforms ensures that your message gets through to your target audience.
Guaranteed Ways to Promote Your Blog and Website
Social media is a great way to promote your blog and website. After you start posting stories, your next task is to drive traffic to your blog. Here are 4 effective ways to promote your blog:
● Promote your blog posts as well as your website in an e-mail marketing newsletter. E-mail marketing is also regarded by many as the most effective ways today to generate sales leads. Services such as Constant Contact are very cost effective in delivering your message.
● Use Twitter to link to your blog articles.
● Link your LinkedIn account to your blog as well as to your website and post articles with teaser copy that links to your blog.
● Post links to your blog articles on your Facebook page and on Pinterest.
If you just think that LinkedIn is just for people to post their resume or to find a new job, you are wrong. In fact, whether you are new employee or a seasoned top company executive, about 20% of the people on LinkedIn use it to network with others in their industry. About 15% of middle and upper level managers are also use the channel to promote the business.
Today many business people argue that LinkedIn is the most important social media channel for B2B marketing because most visitors are looking for content, making and maintaining business connections as well as doing research on competitors and prospects. Because two-thirds of those on this channel are college graduates with half of those earning more than $100,000 per year, the quality of the leads that LinkedIn generates is much higher than those from other channels. What’s more, if you are a prospective supplier, companies are most likely looking at your profile, checking on your credentials.
Because your company is on display on LinkedIn, you should use your business profile to describe what you do and, more importantly, what makes your company different from others in your field. Above all, focus on benefits and the value that you deliver to your clients.
In presenting your qualifications, you might describe how your shop is uniquely qualified to solve the problems for those in your target market. While your shop may produce a wide range of graphics, zero in on what may be your specialty – your product differential. For example, your company might be described as specialists in window and wall graphics design, which transforms the corporate identity of retailers and builds greater store traffic and sales.
In your profile, the keywords matter. To ensure that you rank higher in search results, the headline of your profile should be keyword rich. In other words, use keywords that your prospects will likely use in searching for your services, such as vinyl graphics, banners, car wraps, corporate identity, store signs, wall graphics and window graphics.
LinkedIn also provides you a venue to share articles, which can link readers to your blog or website. These articles are shared with your connections in their news feeds. Posting useful articles allows you to provide viewers with value so you can create awareness. It also provides you with an opportunity to position your company as an authority in the graphics market. By sharing relevant information to your target market, you will grow an audience, which you can potentially connect with.
In building your network within a market, you may want to proactively reach out to prospects within a specific geography by tailoring a message explaining who you are and what you do, and asking them if they would be open to connecting with you. By growing the number of your 1st level network connections, you will increase the probability that you or your company’s profile will show up in a keyword search. This opens the door to engaging with a prospect.
Does Facebook really work for B2B marketing? What works in an urban market, may not be a good strategy in a smaller community. But, with more than 1.5 billion users Facebook is impossible to ignore. More than 70% of adult internet users are using it and over two-thirds of these users log on to it at least once a day. It’s not just to connect with friends and family, either. In fact, nearly three-quarters of the adults claim to use it for business.
What’s can make Facebook significant in a social media strategy is that 80% of the Facebook posts link to other articles. That’s a good reason for you to post any photograph of noteworthy projects or links to articles. By doing that, you can drive your Facebook traffic to your website or blog, which can ultimately pay dividends as sales leads. In developing a Facebook page, most companies use their logo for their profile picture. For your cover picture use a photograph which projects a positive company image and can be easily associated with your business.
When writing your company profile, direct your message at your target market, highlighting the benefits that you provide. Explain the relevant information about your business, describing your range of products and services, and what differentiates your business from your competitors. Make sure that your profile provides the important contact information, including address, phone numbers, email address and website.
In publishing Facebook posts, you can link to stories on your company blog and post pictures of your work. While posting frequently is important, don’t inundate your followers with too many postings. Many companies doing Facebook marketing report that the best times for posting is in the afternoon during business hours. When you receive a comment to a posting, regardless of whether it is positive or negative, take the time to respond.
Growing an audience on Twitter requires consistent effort in terms of providing content on a regular schedule and attracting followers that would be interested in your content. The key is to tweet useful information so you don’t become an annoyance.
The strategy is to first follow those in your target market. You might find people to follow by searching the followers of industry associations, magazines and the followers of your competitors or those following you.
Make sure that you are using the right bait in your headline to lure your audience to reading the article. Creating that alluring headline takes time and thought. But if you don’t put the effort into writing your headline, you will not hook the reader.
Here are a few suggestions to increase engagement on Twitter:
● In optimizing your profile on Twitter, make sure to include your company logo, brand name, location, a link to your website, and keywords in your description.
● Tweet on a consistent schedule. Optimal hours are usually in the early afternoon. Generally, people are most active on Twitter between 8:00 in the morning and 8:00 in the evening. Don’t tweet too much. The rule of thumb is to tweet at least once a day, but not more than four times.
● Include keyword hashtags to increase the odds that your tweets appear in searches. Hashtags are a type of metadata tag, which helps users more easily find topics using those hashtags. For example, if you are tweeting about vehicle graphics, you might include the following hashtags: #carwraps #vinylwrap and #truckwrap. While hashtags became popular with Twitter, they are now also used on other social media platforms, such as Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Google+.
● Include links in your tweets to your website and your blog posts. To shorten long URLs, use Bitly (https://bitly.com/) or some other URL shortener.
● Scripture says “ask and ye shall receive”. That advice works on Twitter. Just ask “Please retweet” or “Please RT”. You can also initiate engagement by liking, following or commenting on the content of others.
● Even though Twitter has increased the length of tweets to 280 characters, keep your tweets short and sweet, preferably 100 characters or fewer.
Before You Post a Tweet: How many times have you sent a Tweet only to regret it later? Whether you have sent something inappropriate or realized that what you sent doesn’t make sense, you can take a few precautions to avoid any problems or embarrassment.
Compose your Twitter message using Word or some other word processing program. After writing your message, spellcheck your copy. Then read the message over a couple of times – preferably out loud. Better yet, have someone else read it. It never hurts to get a second set of eyes to review your copy.
Before tweeting, double-check any of your factual claims. If you are providing a link to your website or blog, make sure the link is not broken. After you post a Tweet, immediately check it online to see that it looks the way you expect it to look. If the published Tweet doesn’t look right, delete it. Make any necessary corrections, then repost it.
Use of Pictures on Twitter
We all have heard that a picture is worth a thousand words. On Twitter, a picture is worth much more. Use of a picture increases engagement. In other words, an effective photograph will increase the number of clicks, likes and retweets that a tweet receives. More importantly, it can increase your following.
One third of on-line time is spent watching videos. What’s more, more than 70% of viewers, who watch a company’s videos, visit their website. That’s what makes YouTube important as a business marketing tool.
Like other social media platforms YouTube helps broadcast your message to a much broader universe of prospects. Instead of aiming at specific vertical markets, you expand the reach of your marketing message to tangential markets. This allows you to touch potential customers and market segments that may have never occurred to you.
As with any other medium, you need to have a clear goal in mind. Determine what type of response you are attempting to elicit from your audience. Are you trying to drive traffic to your website? Build your email list? Or generate phone call inquires?
To be effective each video should be easy to understand and no longer than two to three minutes. More importantly, YouTube videos should provide unique and relevant content.
As with blogging, the key to building an audience is consistently producing informative content and publishing it on a regular schedule. In fact, the frequency of your YouTube broadcasts is much more important than producing slick videos. Before a prospect responds to your call to action, that person must be regularly exposed to your message multiple times. By delivering your message on a regular basis you are conditioning the viewer to notice and remember you and your company. By increasing the number of touches that you engage with the prospect, you improve your response rate.
You may have heard the saying that if you want to get a lot, you have to give a lot. The same holds true in growing an audience. Viewers will be attracted to your channel if you deliver value in the form of news you can use. As important as providing practical information, you must be unique in the sense that you deliver a message that they will not get anywhere else. As a time-saving suggestion, consider repurposing the content from your blog posts as video spots.
As part of your strategy to increase viewership, consider developing a series of interconnected videos on a similar topic. For example, you could develop a series of case studies featuring customers who used their graphics programs to reinvigorate their company image, grow store traffic, increase sales leads, improve employee attitudes or improve driver safety. At the ending of each video, your call to action should recommend that the viewer see the next video in your series as well as to visit your website.
You can certainly produce your own videos. However, if you can afford it, you might consider hiring a videographer. To save time and filming cost, you should plan your video sessions thoroughly. Key to this process is to create a storyboard and script, rather than just winging it, which can waste a tremendous amount of time.
Once you have created your video, you need to promote it on your other social media platforms, as well as embedding the video in your blog and on your website. You should also promote your videos with links in emails and in newsletters. You can also promote your YouTube channel in your printed promotional material.
Pinterest is not just for your wife or teenage daughter, although at least 60+% of its users are female. If you are not familiar with this social media channel, Pinterest is a virtual bulletin board for ideas. It is a great place to find inspiration and you will find a variety of boards devoted to topics such as vehicle wraps, wall graphics, environmental graphics or pinstriping.
Pinterest is an image based platform, which, to my way of thinking, is ideal for the sign, screen print and digital printing industries. While the majority of the Pinterest users are female, 60% of my visitors are male. Many marketing professionals argue that, while Pinterest does not have the volume of daily users that Facebook has, it is just as effective in driving traffic to websites and blogs.
“Most business people underestimate the value that Pinterest can provide to their company,” says Earl Mich’s Greg McKay. “For the graphics market it’s a better fit than Facebook, because it allows the user to search for specific topics of interest and it provides those results in an image based format. Compared to Instagram, the pins that you save, easily link to specific webpages or blog articles.”
Because it is one of the fastest growing social media channels, Pinterest can funnel traffic to either your website or your blog. In fact, Pinterest can be more effective in generating traffic than LinkedIn and Facebook, if you follow a few basic steps:
● Create at least 8 boards that would interest your target markets. Examples: Vehicle Wraps; Wall Graphics ; Retail Storefront Design; Store Signage; Tradeshow Booth Design; Window Graphics;
● Search Pinterest to find people or boards related to your boards. Follow their followers.
● When people follow you, be sure to follow those people back.
● Some formats for Pinterest pins are much more effective than others. Longer vertical layouts are more effective than horizontal formats. Use enticing images. While I use many of my own photographs, I also buy images.
● We all know that a picture is worth a thousand words. However, just posting a picture can be confusing. Incorporating text with the images attracts more attention than images alone. When adding copy to a photograph, make sure that the copy is large and readable. You can also use different images from a blog post to create a few different pins to that story. You should time these pins with at least several weeks between them.
● Merely pinning a blog article to Pinterest is not enough. When you create a board, make sure that it includes a “keyword rich” description. For each blog post that you pin to that board, also include a description with appropriate keywords. By using the right keywords, you increase the odds that the search engines will find you.
Worldwide more than 500 million Instagram accounts are active every day and 80% of these are businesses. Because of its growing popularity, companies are using Instagram to generate sales leads and drive traffic to their websites and blogs.
If you don’t have time to devote to writing a blog, Instagram may be a better channel for you to regularly engage with prospects and customers. It only takes a few minutes to post a photo with a caption. By posting once or twice a day, you can maintain a connection with viewers that you may not achieve when only posting a few times a month on your blog.
Instagram was developed to allow you to post photos from your mobile devices. You can also post pictures and videos directly from your computer using a desktop application, such as Gramblr (http://gramblr.com/uploader/#home).
To grow awareness of your company on Instagram, you should consider taking these following actions:
● Create a schedule to post regularly, such as two times per day – once in mid-morning and a second time in the middle of the afternoon. Anything more than that may become annoying to your followers.
● Only post photos, which would interest customers and prospects in your target market. To maintain interest in your account, post different types of photos, such as pictures of vehicle wraps interspersed with photos of wall graphics, banners or signage.
● Using photos with people engaged in action is generally more interesting than static photos and results in significantly more likes and comments.
● Increase your account activity by conducting a contest and posting pictures from your customers. For example, you could create a contest for the best vehicle graphics or store graphics design. The contest photos, which your customers submit, provide content for your postings and make your job easier.
● While Instagram focuses on visual content, the captions also play an important role in pitching a storyline. Your captions should always include a call to action along with your phone number. In addition to providing a description for the photo, you should also add popular and relevant hashtags. Just in case you are not familiar with how hashtags are used, they are similar to keywords that help viewers find a specific topic that they are interested in. As an example of how you might use one, if you are posting a picture of a vehicle wrap, you could include #vehiclewraps #vehiclegraphics #vinylgraphics in the caption. Instagram allows you to use as many as 30 hashtags. The best practice is to use as many as are relevant. This increases the odds that you will appear in searches, which can greatly improve your response rate.
● To increase interest in your photos, incorporate copy over the picture. Make sure to use eye-popping colors and good contrast to attract attention and ensure that the text doesn’t get lost.
● While your Instagram profile should concisely explain who you are, and what you do, it is more important that you provide the viewer with a benefit statement. Just as if you are writing a headline for an ad, that benefit must describe that differential that sets you apart from your competitors. It is that one unique benefit or selling proposition that answers the viewer’s question of why he should do business with you.
● Occasionally post a photo of one of your employees at work. This could be a picture of someone building a sign or installing graphics. Not only does this provide your prospects with a snapshot of your shop, but it also signals to your employee that you value them.
How to Evaluate Your Results
At the very least social media requires a big investment in time. It is not unusual for business owners to question the value of their expenditures. To arrive at an answer, you need to refer to your original objectives. These objectives must be quantifiable, such as the number of downloads or sign ups to an email list or, better yet, actual sales leads.
If the objective of your program was to increase awareness, you could measure the number of impressions that you generate in the form of clicks, likes or page views. By measuring these results you can easily calculate the cost per impression.
Metrics, such as numbers of likes or clicks or followers, may not mean much to you, if they don’t produce actual inquiries that you can turn into cash. The only way to calculate a true return on your social media investment is to link your results in the form of sales leads to actual sales revenue or to an estimate of customer lifetime revenue.
To do this is one of those possible but usually involved and occasionally difficult tasks. If you can estimate that sales volume and have tracked your expenditures, the formula is really simple:
Return on Investment (%) = Sales Produced (Revenue) – Social Media Cost / Social Media Cost
Example: 200% = $30,000 – $10,000 / $10,000
If you use ROI as a measure of success, any positive ratio is good. It means that you covered your investment paid off. Negative results are not so good, because you have not covered your expenses.
Developing a plan that will work for your business involves trial and error. What I mean is that you must continually evaluate your responses to your social media activities. Based on this feedback, you can determine what works for your business and use this information to modify your social media and marketing plan.
In developing a social media strategy for your business, the first rule is to establish a clear objective for your efforts. To my way of thinking, that prime objective for sign business or printer is generating sales leads which ultimately lead to sales.
As a business, you want your prospects to take action to pick up the phone and dial your number. Leads result in sales and ultimately affect your bottom line. All other goals, such as improving your company image or establishing yourself as a bona fide industry authority, are secondary and should support the primary goal of lead generation.
Based on your company’s goal, you need to select the social media channels that will be most effective in reaching prospects in your target market.
Getting results on social media takes time and consistent effort. No one, especially a small business, has the time to be on every social media platform. So pick those 4 or 5 channels that will be most effective at delivering your message. Among all of those channels make sure that your company’s branding is consistent. That includes consistency in your messaging and imagery.
The only way to know what will work for your business is to monitor your results on the different media channels. If an approach that you are trying is not generating the traffic that you want, you need to modify that approach. While this may seem as if I am advocating trial and error strategy to social media marketing, I am not. Tactics that work in social media are well-known. You just need to put them to work for you.
One final thought. As wonderful as the internet and social media are, never miss a chance to be face to face. When you are face to face, the prospect can’t easily press a button and delete you. Having a great social media presence is not the same as a human relationship. Never miss a chance to have an actual conversation with a prospect. Never miss a chance to learn about who the prospect is as a human being.
Never forget that you are dealing with a person that has personal interests and a family as well as someone who deals with problems and frustrations. When you have an opportunity to really connect with another human being and build a real relationship with a prospect, make the commitment to engage with that person. You just may find that you have a friend and customer for life.
In the golden age of television, advertisers knew that selling needed to be done in the minds of the consumers before they stepped into a store and make a decision. Today, the selling that occurs before decision making often occurs on the internet and not on TV.
While the most effective media has changed, the most effective messages are basically the same. These messages appeal to our basic needs and dreams as well as quell our deepest anxieties and fears.
The rules for developing an effective message have not changed much either. Here are some of the most important rules:
● Understand who your target market is and what their needs are. Knowing that, tailor your content and tone to that audience.
● Focus each message on a single topic or theme. Keep the message simple and easy to understand. And maintain the uniformity of the imagery.
● In whichever social media platform that you decide to use, post regularly so you can maintain your online presence.
● To sustain interest provide your target audience with a variety of content.
● Build a reputation as an expert in your niche by providing information which you have learned in the school of hard knocks. Relate to people your experience of what to do as well as what not to do.
● While you should be the star of your own show, no one likes excessive and chest pounding as a shameless self-promoter of your products and your business. The majority of your content should consist of information that your target market can use.