Despite the buzz about social media, its not the end all be all of marketing. Successful marketing is centered around four main concepts; marketers will recognize the good old AIDA acronym. You have to get your customers Attention. Then, you build their Interest in your product by showing them the advantages. Next, convince them they want what youre offering " build Desire. In the end, you lead them to take Action and make a purchase.
You still need traditional marketing to do this. The real trick is to learn how to integrate the two into your current marketing strategy. When you find a way to merge the two methods, you can develop a powerful marketing plan that utilizes the best of both worlds.
Let me see a show of hands. How many of you logged in to Facebook today? Sent a Tweet? Read a blog? I have no doubt that social media is part of your daily life. Is it any wonder that social media seems to be the latest and greatest medium for marketing your company? Marketing is all about reaching out to people. The people all seem to be online, interacting through social media.
Of course you want to connect with this captive audience and cash in on the immediate access to your customers; who wouldnt? Theres no need to throw away your traditional marketing plan while youre at it, though. We dont need baby with the bathwater syndrome, here. Traditional marketing still has a place"and rightfully so"in your marketing plan. The trick is to find a way to integrate social media with what you already have working for you.
Start thinking of social media as an extension of traditional marketing. The goal of traditional marketing is to expose your product or service to an audience of potential customers. Social media gives you a tool to do just that. In some ways, its a better, more efficient way to do so, but its still just a tool in your marketing arsenal.
Social media actually levels the playing field for businesses. This is good news for small businesses that lack the workforce and capital for extensive ad campaigns, as well as what can be expensive media outlets. It opens the door to a world of potentially millions of customers with little to no monetary investment. Larger organizations need to keep this in mind, too, because they are now competing with these smaller companies, who previously could not afford massive marketing campaigns.
How Does Traditional / Social Marketing Work?
John owns a sporting goods store. Hes ordered a new home workout program that he wants to release to his local market. He knows his existing customers who shop in his store. Following his existing marketing plan, he sets up displays in the store and schedules an interview with the local TV station. These methods have always been successful when hes introduced a new product, and John knows this.
Pause in the scenario, here. If you were John, why would you stop using a successful promotion campaign if you know from your data that it works? Social media gives you a chance to expand these methods and involve customers in your marketing. In fact, they end up being the ones doing the marketing for you! The options are limited only by your imagination, but here are a few ways John integrates social media with his existing marketing plan for the new workout program release:
Forum or newsletter.
John included a code on each receipt that allows his customers access to a forum where they can interact with him, the program creator, and other users. Here they can post questions, share personal stories, and get updates on changes and additions to the program. In the minds of the consumers, they are getting additional goods at no additional cost.
At the same time, he now has the opportunity to immediately share with them new products and create positive associations with his brand through his interactions with them. John is now more than just a guy trying to make money. He is a friend, genuinely concerned with helping his customers.
On Johns company Facebook page, he posts updates about the program. He also invites customers to post pictures and comments about their experiences with the program. Customers using the program are able to share with others ways to modify it to make it even more successful for them.
The real time nature of Facebook also makes it ideal for one-day promotional specials. John posts one-day price discounts on his daily status update when he notices that sales slow. Not only is John promoting his product, but he also has instant access to how his customers view his brand.
People love talking about themselves, which is part of why social media is so successful. John knows this, and he invites his Facebook friends to create testimonials for the new product. He arranges a contest in which customers create their own videos about their experiences with the program. The videos are posted on You Tube and promoted through Facebook and Twitter. Fans vote for their favorite video, and the winner is recognized on the front page of Johns website. Johns customers are now promoting the product for him and doing so much better than he could on his own.
Guidelines For Social Media
Regardless of how you choose to integrate social media with traditional marketing, there are a few guidelines to keep in mind:
1. Make sure you keep your content fresh. Social media is all about real time interaction, and social platforms are, in some ways, living communities. Post current information, relevant to whats going on in your business and in the lives of your customers. Share live event coverage through a Twitter or Tumblr feed. Invite your customers to actively interact with you by asking them questions that connect their lives with your products and services. For example, John might pose a question like, Summer is just around the corner. Whats your favorite summer exercise activity?
2. Be willing to experiment and find what works for you. This is certainly not a one-size-fits-all solution. Each product, service, and company has specific needs and qualities that make them a better fit with certain social media platforms. While a You Tube contest might work for promoting the success of an exercise program, its not a place for blatant commercials selling the video. Likewise, you probably dont want to tag people in Facebook photos related to exercise and weight loss without their consent or input on the photo.
3. Clarify the messages you send through traditional marketing. One of the downsides of traditional marketing is the fact that once a flier, display or commercial is released, it isnt easily or quickly changed. Even with the best of intentions, your audience may not interpret the message you intended. Through social media, you can create a dialogue with your customers so the right message gets out. For example, if John discovers that his market thinks the new workout program is something only experienced exercisers can do, he will write a blog post about how to modify the program for beginners.
The right balance of traditional marketing and social media can transform your current marketing strategy and the success of your business. Its all a matter of creating a plan, experimenting with the available options, and measuring the effectiveness of each piece. You dont have to be stuck in the battle between choosing one over the over. Do what works for you. Find ways to integrate the two and watch the revolution!