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Saturday, November 1, 2008

How To Use Social Media To Market Your Small Business

Everywhere you turn, you're probably hearing about Web 2.0 "this and that" and Social Media. Things like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogging, and for some of us it's very hard to understand how to use Social Media for marketing yourself and for marketing your products and services. Which should lead directly to sales for yourself and your company.

Let's start with a few basic principles that you know and apply them to social media.

1. Sales cycles are initiated in only two ways (1) you contact the customer or (2) the customer contacts you. The fastest sales cycle occurs is when the customer contacts you when somebody they trust gives you a referral. The next fastest sales cycle happens when the customer is looking for a product discovers your product and service and feels it will meet their needs.

2. In marketing you can either do a push program or a pull program. A push program means that you contact the prospect directly. In a pull program, you create an offering that "pulls" the customer to contact you. Any company doing marketing has to have both programs in place. Direct marketing is a push program, advertising on radio or TV is a pull program.

3. A perfect marketing program will be a pull program using customer referrals.

A great Social Media marketing program is a pull program integrated in customer referrals.

* Google is a referral program.
* Being mentioned in somebodies blog is a referral.
* Being listed in Technocrati is a referral.

On the Internet there is only one push technique to get people to contact you.

* Sending out e-mail sales letters to prospects. This is the equivalent of direct marketing and the results are typically lower than traditional mail rates. The upside is of course, the lower costs and the immediacy of the results. Mailing lists, autoresponders, and the like are extensions to this technique.

On the pull side on there are numerous variations on the Internet. I treat each of these as a different media and my first step is to map them to traditional media. This is effective because I can then rely on proven traditional techniques and then enhance them with techniques proven for to work for the specific media.

1. Advertisements on web sites - equivalent to bill board ads and short tv ads

2. Google search engine - equivalent to yellow pages

3. Google Adwords - Newspaper classified ads

4. Twitter - radio

5. Social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn - Equivalent to BBB or a Board of Trade

6. A blog - a newspaper column

7. YouTube - Sort of like sending a video or CD to somebody, TV shows, infomercials

8. Website - a brochure

Obviously this list is not an exhaustive list of social media choices. Nor is my mapping intended to be the only way to start a program. But, the mapping means we can take advantage of the great marketing people who have come before us such as John Caples.

Furthermore, each of the above examples have numerous variations and combine into new and wonderful combinations.

There are a number of major and important difference between Social Media and traditional media that makes it a revolution for markets and makes it an even greater challenge.

1. The ability to directly measure the results of Social Media. We know how many times a web page is actually looked at and for how long. The only traditional media that has this level of measurement has been direct mail. This means we know when we have not done it right or when we have done it correctly.

2. The elements of a Social Media marketing plan is different than their offline equivalents because there effectiveness is dependent on each other. The more effective you have are in one area - the more it raises your profile in another. Your blog needs to connect with your twitter which needs to connect with your profiles which need.... You get the story. My brain exploded with all this stuff when I first learned about it.

If you want to use the Internet as a marketing vehicle - then you need to understand how it works and what each of the pieces of Social Media mean and how they interact together. Once you understand them then you can create an integrated marketing plan which uses the parts of Social Media that are important to you and your target market. To will learn how to market yourself using Social Media.

Jerry Hart, Jeffrey Howard, and Zale Tabakman have created a "Preview Call" which gives a more in depth overview of Social Marketing. If Internet marketing is something that you want to do and you want to get a handle on the big picture, then I recommend that you listen to the recording of this call.

But not only do I recommend that you to listen to the call. I think its important that you watch and learn from their marketing process. They are using a powerful approach called attraction marketing. Its makes use of multiple types of media.

It has a three core features:

1. They have setup a registration process which allows them to provide you with lots of how-to articles so that you can get started immediately on marketing with social media. This helps you evaluate if their brand of Social Media marketing is for you.

2. They overwelm you with information to help make Social Media marketing decisions.

3. They give you a sample of what and how they will teach you. You either enjoy it or your don't. It is knowledge and techniques you need or its stuff you don't. The decision is then easy.

If Internet Marketing is something you want to do. Then I recommend that you register for the preview call and watch and enjoy all the different marketing methods employed. Both the medium and the message are important here.

You can access the Audio at Social Media Marketing For Small Business