Tag Archives: social media

Social media and business strategy: What I learned from professional services marketing

Traditional, conventional business strategy has relied upon one kind of marketing for decades:  broadcast.  The advent of social media is doing more for what creative marketers have advocated for years — the actual engagement of each and every stakeholder in a conversation, or a debate, or a brainstorm, not a one-way blast.  But traditional marketers are afraid of anything they cannot control, so most are still waiting for the pioneers to show why we should embrace social media instead of fear it.

I think the real problem is that traditional marketers, some leaders among them, are actually threatened by the fact that social media is making it possible for communication between a company and its stakeholders to occur independently.  You can just hear them asking, "what about my job?"  Well, this post isn't for them.  Or for anyone who believes that the best route to job security is to keep corporate marketing in the dark ages.

I was fortunate to have learned marketing not in a college classroom or a consumer conglomerate but in what some would have considered a stuffy sanctum, the executive suite of an accounting and consulting firm.  The longer I'm at this, the more I appreciate my unconventional background.  It has given me the fuel to look at every new innovation, real or trumped-up, with an eye to what it will do for the relationship between my clients and their stakeholders.  Because relationship is where it's at with professional services.

This is the first of a couple of posts I'm planning about social media and the corporate marketing function.  I'm inspired by a couple of things right now:  my work with startups and the need to look at every penny spent on marketing, and an afternoon I spent this week as the guest of KickApps at a really terrific seminar they hosted for their clients, potential clients and the social media community.  It's great and it's fun that companies like KickApps even exist.  Great because it's about time the best marketers create firms like this that really help companies maximize their involvement in the worldwide web — fun because marketing is going to be fun again, thanks to the early case studies to which we were exposed.

Before I go into sharing what we learned this week, though, here's what it made me remember, courtesy of my still-relevant experience at Andersen Worldwide.

  1. The best marketers are not parked in the marketing function, they live at the front of the company.  This means all employees.  They are the actors, not just the symbols, of the brand.
  2. Relationships are the most meaningful platform for marketing.  When you look to establish a relationship with a customer or an influencer, like a journalist or blogger, you get yourself out of the sales or publicity mode and into a real conversation.  You learn what interests them and what they need.
  3. Whether a sales cycle is long or short, establishing a relationship depends upon understanding what the customer [or stakeholder] really wants, not what you want them to think or do.  You build a brand by understanding what your people and your products or services can do for the stakeholder, not how much money you can make from the relationship.  The money — and the success — will follow organically and easily.
  4. The best marketing happens face to face or one on one, which means that the social network is perfect for building and sustaining a relationship.  What we have today is akin to what we had yesterday — a means to connect over content.  It's perfectly fine that the connecting happens via digital correspondence.
  5. Authenticity will out.  You cannot fool all of the people all of the time.
  6. Some of your best ideas will come from listening to what your critics, including dissatisfied customers, say.  Whether it's about your company or someone else's, or even if it's about you.  Play on a team of rivals.

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Good social media blogs

Trying to keep up with how to use social media to market your company can be a job in itself.  Here are some people who make it easier for you.

Hubspot

Social Media Today

Chris Brogan

Andrew Chen

Twitter Handbook

Is Yelp a business, community service or not for profit? Paging Comrade Lenin.

Calley Nye wrote today about Yelp and its impact on companies reviewed there.  Yelp presents itself as a place where the community can gather to share its experiences with businesses — and Yelp likes to invoke conversation as a core concept.  The site is gaining in popularity, and negative reviews can break a business, particularly a restaurant.  So businesses are forming alternate sites to combat the effect. 

Why don’t these businesses just bring the argument or discussion to Yelp?  Because Yelp won’t let them.  Yelp does not permit businesses to respond one way or the other to a review.  This is a shame, because the young company is leaving valuable conversation on the table.  And missing the point of social media.  

Or at least that’s how a lot of people see it.  I’m starting to notice a devilish little trend among startups that seek to change the world.  They reap the benefits of a capitalistic structure without contributing to it.  In this case, Yelp could be helping to evangelize the importance of companies listening to and actually talking with customers — and Yelp could be setting itself up as the nexus of the interaction

Instead, the company is kidding itself — or trying to kid us — into thinking it is leveling the playing field by going after nasty business owners and putting more power into the hands of the “community.”  That businesses are not part of the community! 

Wait a minute.

Is Yelp a business?  And if so,  because Yelp’s CEO [a business term] created a loyalty hierarchy consisting of community, consumers and businesses, as articulated to none other than THE NEW YORK TIMES, into which category does Yelp fall?  Finally, by whose universal standard are Yelp-reviewed businesses measured?  If the answer is the community’s, then who decides the community?  Or are we going to check with Comrade Lenin via seance?

I love it when a startup presents itself as anti-establishment as it indulges in the third oldest profession to make money.  That would be advertising.

Anyway, I find it hard to believe that Yelp’s mission is either noble or democratic.  At least, not any more than any other business trying to launch, make money and do business ethically.  So let’s use Yelp for what it is — a repository of reviews we can use for information but for nothing more.  And let’s not be used by it.

Out of the mouths of babes, the key success factor for social media success

Social media startups are giving people, and soon, companies, new and sometimes startling ways to strengthen their communities.  These startups are introducing what I believe is an entirely new age, as influential and society-changing as the Industrial Age.

But first.  There is a great deal we can learn from studying history and the factors essential to success in rolling out new technology.  Remember, there were a lot of wacky inventions that lasted just a few days in the early stages of the Industrial Revolution.  We're going to see the same in our day.

One of the success factors:  make sure your invention not only works but is relevant to the people you want using it.  And accept when people don't find it relevant.

It was a great pleasure to read Jessica Mah's blog post today about this very subject.  Jessica is an entrepreneur stepping out of early fame without losing her balance.  She's someone to watch.  And not just because she's so young and a woman.  She is using her head.

Read this post.  You'll enjoy it.

Jessicanextwebsmall