There Is More To Selling Than Social

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Or “How To Post Your Way To The Poorhouse”

Image by Cate Sevilla

On at least one occasion in the last few years I have been asked various forms of the questions, “how do I blog to be sure and get sales”, “what can I expect from my efforts on Twitter”, “how does this translate to food for my children”, and so on. The good news is I don’t know. The bad news is “they” don’t either. But in all hopefulness and by careful examination of the data we see it is possible and there are some guidelines to be followed which are more likely to lead to sales success than the poorhouse. I don’t like the poorhouse.

Being named a Reuter’s Top Ten Small Business Expert on Twitter is pretty cool. Translating that little puppy to a paycheck is work. In spite of what everyone may believe I don’t check my PayPal account daily and, surprise, see three or four thousand dollars that popped in there over-night just from me hosting Social Media Edge Radio and writing a few blog posts. In fact until I write some code or create some content the money flow direction is ebbing toward the negative. Chances are that’s not what you have in mind for yourself. You, like I, must sell some widgets or face the piper, er, spouse.

While the social media gurus who tout their wares and charge really small fees, snark, for their workshops and seminars may assure you their oil is the best for snakes you can bet most of their ROI is derived from the attendees. However, and let’s keep fairness in play, most attendees likely found out about the event through … social media. Hey, I do events. I get it. What you need to know, however, is not how to get people to attend your seminars and buy your books or your retweet campaigns, you have widgets for sale. Darned good ones, too! You need to sell those puppies and you need to sell a lot of them every week. You probably suffer from a food and shelter addiction – just guessing.

5 tips to deal with inherited branding

I wish my parents had known more about SEO when they named me.

ken cook

Embrace the name!

Sometimes when we in the digital branding and marketing sphere take on a new employer or client we face a few “name” challenges. We really cannot do much about it because the company is already born and we’re late to the game. I understand. I mean my name is Ken Cook for Pete’s sake. Google me by name and you’ll have to dig way down to find me. On Google, in fact, I am currently 9th and 11th in raw search results and those are my Twitter and G+ accounts respectively! I feel as if I have no respect. But alas, it is my fault.

Say you inherit the reigns for SEO and social evangelism at a company already named. Say that company has been around for a while and they “just don’t get it” about the importance of a well designed and scientifically engineered name space. It happens. It happened to me – a few times. Remember your training, stick to the basics and don’t make any big, sweeping changes. Here are five bullets I use to win the name shoot-out:

Embrace the name – even if the company has a very unusual sounding or what you would consider negatively branded name. Like say, Toothpaste by Toilet or Plane of Death Airlines. While I’m not saying they should not immediately change names and carve their own eyes out with a broken toothpick that’s not our jobs as lowly brand engineers. Embrace the name as though it were your baby.

Keep with protocol – all marketers know there are times when marketing protocol collides with executive management desires. One thing I always keep in mind is if I and my current employer split up I still have to work with me and I do not want a bad name following me around. Trust me, I have work that I do not and will not refer too. One has to do with some Austrian crystals. So regardless of how badly your upper mucks want you to spam the planet – resist.

SoLoMo – the convergence of Social, Local and Mobile

 

mobile-local-social

SoLoMo - Social Local Mobile

Like every other piece of buzz, or most other buzz at least, SoLoMo is not the end all. You will still be able to market other ways but for the local business: the chiropractor, the real estate agent, the auto repair center, and other services offering services within a relatively narrow diameter – SoLoMo is now.  Much like the yellow directories of yesterday SoLoMo focuses on local market areas with a higher transactional focus.

 

Breaking it down

Social is the first of the trinity of flavors. For our purposes, new media/online marketing, social begins online and ends in personal space. Sites like MeetUp and the horribly abused Facebook Events make it easy to plan and coordinate live events. (Yes, I know there are others – feel free to spam your own in the comments section.)

Local is relative. For a car dealer local may mean a 50 mile radius while for a chiropractor or cafe local is a 5 mile radius. This was an early challenge to marketers online and I addressed it as best I could back in 1998 when I wrote on iCobb, “in the future many websites will use IP numbers to determine an approximate location and deliver information more relevant to the visitor”. At the time most sites would have the user input a geographic location then poll the database based on user input. Now it’s blind on most sites.

Mobile is growing and will likely be the standard for the foreseeable future. As wireless bandwidths get faster and mobile devices take the place of laptops and desktops more and more users will make their first search and connection with others online. Apps like Color.com, a currently sparsely populated application, will make geolocal engagement a natural part of life.

Real time influence means live transactional reward

Twenty years ago when you applied for a business phone it took about a week for the yellow directory sales pitches to start. They would drop in, phone, send cards and letters, rinse and repeat. My very first purchase of a yellow directory ad just about made me regurge but I knew I had to have it back in 1980. In fact without a yellow directory listing back then if you depended on people who did not drive by your storefront, I was in the entertainment electronics retail business, you may as well put on a monkey suit and stand on the street corner … selling rocks.

The cost of my first add, a half-page, was $3700 for a year. It reached roughly 180,000 people in 112,000 homes if I remember right. It worked. Most of my business back then came from the yellow directory with my second amount from storefront advertising.

The yellow directory was, for all practical purposes, the top search engine of the day. It produced a significant amount of revenue for shops like mine, plumbers, lawyers, auto-repair, tailors, doctors, squirrel catchers, and many more.  There was, however, a major catch: once that ad was printed and distributed it was set for the next 12 months. If you were specific about discounts or hours or special product offerings you better still be able to deliver.

Enter the digital age and live engagement

The ratio of use of yellow directory to purchase was in some cases staggering. Clients did not, generally, surf the yellow directory. Only when a real solution was needed do one look for the book and take a walk with their fingers. This point of need rendered a higher rate of return per “impression” than we generally see online today.

However …

Beginning with early websites around 1995 it was quickly discovered one could combine traditional advertisement with dynamic content. One of my early clients, Mel Abramavitz, owned a yellow directory which catered to upper middle class residents in our area. Together we brainstormed and I created the first real-time, customer editable yellow directory in our area. Though most of his customers, the retailers and service providers who advertised in his book, rarely made changes it was available to them. Some of the early adopters did entice people to visit the website and see the daily or weekly schedule.