Yesterday’s tools don’t work very well in modern applications. Take a rotary phone, for example: It can still make phone calls, but it won’t work outdoors, it won’t connect to the Internet, and it won’t take photos. A few of you are now saying, “I just want a telephone that makes phone calls.” I’d be willing to bet that it’s these same few who have said “Internet marketing doesn’t work.” It’s not that Internet marketing doesn’t work; it’s that they are taking a new tool (the Internet) and using it like it’s an old tool. It’s like owning an iPhone and using it like it’s a rotary phone. They’re not using the tool to its full advantage.
Much has been said lately about finding new customers and reaching a new generation of buyers. If you want to reach a new generation of buyers, you have to send your message to the place where new buyers are listening and approach them in the manner in which they prefer to be approached. Instead of searching for a silver bullet that will magically reach new customers on your terms, it’s important to study when and how your potential customers prefer to receive advertising messages.
Demographics is Dead
For decades, companies have depended on demographics to target their advertising messages. But, demographics aren’t as powerful as they used to be. As U.S. society has evolved, sub-groups have emerged within the traditional demographic groups. Our market has fragmented to the point where the old demographic tools are useless. New tools are needed if we are going to define our market and reach new customers. Those tools are available, and they all revolve around interactive social media marketing.
“Interactive” is the New Marketing Buzzword
Businesses are engaging new customers where the new customers live: on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Once engaged, they approach their new-found customers to make purchases through e-mail marketing. The marketing company ExactTarget recently published research that shows:
• 93 percent of online consumers (“Subscribers”) receive on average one permission-based marketing e-mail per day
• 38 percent of online consumers (“Fans”) have “liked,” or become a follower of, at least one company on a social networking site.
• 5 percent of online consumers are active followers (“Followers” in the report) of a brand; one out of every six accounts followed on Twitter is a brand.
And now for the statistic that ties all of the above together: 50 percent of all online consumers have made a purchase as a result of e-mail. The pattern is clear: Recruit fans and followers on Facebook and Twitter, but don’t try to sell them anything on the social sites. Instead, engage them by offering them useful information or entertainment and let them get to know you. When they know you and like you, they will become a follower of your business. When a user “follows” your business, it is an invitation for you to interact with them. Through interaction, they will learn to trust you and your opinions, and, by extension, your products. Let the consumer approach you first. Save the selling for e-mail, because once they have agreed that you can e-mail them (permission-based marketing) there is a good chance that eventually they will respond to one of your offers and buy something from you.
Three steps to an effective social marketing strategy
1. Use Each Tool Properly
Users log on to social media sites with certain expectations. On Facebook, their expectation is to socialize with their friends and be entertained. So, offer them entertainment. Take photos of unusual items and tell a story about how it was used “back in the day.” Make a video of the same item; post it on YouTube and link to it on Facebook. Facebook users love videos, and they will link to them and post them for their friends to see. Develop a reputation for posting curiosities, and you will soon have a loyal following.
On Twitter, users expect access: access to celebrities, news and brands. You have just 140 characters to work with on Twitter, so you have to get right to the point. Post a link to your YouTube videos or an interesting picture, or offer a special deal like a free valuation. Ask a question and get their input. Interaction is the key to success on Twitter.
2. Develop a mailing list
Consumers will give you their e-mail addresses; you just have to give something in return. ExactTarget’s research listed 12 reasons why consumers would give out their e-mail addresses; among them are:
• 67 percent in order to get discounts and promotions
• 55 percent to get a “freebie” in return for their address
• 50 percent to get product updates
• 33 percent to get access to exclusive content
3. Use your list to drive traffic to your online-offline stores
Your mailing list will be filled with followers who have learned to know you, like you and trust you. Know-Like-Trust is the classic formula for success in word-of-mouth marketing. You will have captured the interest of new customers through online social networking — people who have found your posts and videos to be interesting and informative. You will have educated them about your products and developed in them an interest in collecting.
You must mail to this list regularly, at least once a week. Give them something of value each time: a report on a particular collectible or a link to an interesting website. Don’t just send advertising messages, or you will find people dropping off your list. If you can’t write interesting posts, hire a freelance writer to do it for you; you can find many on freelance sites such as guru.com and elance.com. List maintenance does not have to be a time-consuming chore, either. You can subscribe to an autoresponder and set your program to run automatically, or you can hire a marketing company to handle the details for you.
Modern consumers are bombarded with sales messages throughout the day; they get them on TV, radio, newspapers, the Internet, snail mail, e-mail, on buses, taxis and everywhere else. Everyone is clamoring for the consumer’s attention. Consumers are tired of the noise and tired of being interrupted for a commercial message. The dealer who takes the time to get to know and to interact with his customers through online social networking is the dealer who will develop new markets and thrive.
Previously published in Antique Trader Magazine