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Social media is the next frontier in social selling

Jan 13, 2016 - filed under social media 1 Comment
 

If you are puzzled by the title of this post because you think you are up on the latest trends and are sure that “social selling” means selling on social media, be prepared to learn something.

Social selling has a long, long history. In fact, Jesus used social selling.

What? Are you saying that Jesus preached on Twitter and Facebook?

Of course not. Social selling has nothing to do with social media. Nothing. You can use social media for social selling, and in 2016, you would be a fool not to. But social selling is about “social”, not about technology (otherwise, it would be called “technology selling”).

In the words of Jonathan Becher, Chief Digital Officer at SAP:

“While technology can help, social selling is about building stronger relationships with potential buyers, based on an authentic sense of empathy and a deep understanding of the problems they face.”

That sense of empathy is key.  If a potential customer feels that you are “one of the good guys” or that you are “one of us”, he will be much more open to buy from you.  There is implicit trust.  So the sooner a salesperson can determine whether you are a Red Sox fan or a Yankees fan, the sooner he can start sharing a common bond with you and bring you on his side.

Consider the difference between sitting across the table or across a desk from somebody trying to sell you something, or sitting on the same side of the table.  Across is confrontational.  Same side is cooperative.  Same side of the table selling is bound to be more effective, because there is the implicit assumption that the salesperson is on the same side as you.

We humans are so easily swayed by us-and-them psychology (which is why successive Miss Universes have failed to achieve “World Peace“, but that’s another problem to ponder at some other time).

Sell from the same side of the table

So how did Jesus use social selling?  Jesus was pitching redemption and holiness and general goodness.  The priests of the day were preaching these things, too, but they had difficulty reaching some of the more challenging audiences, because preaching is selling from the other side of the table.  It is confrontational.  Let’s face it, would you buy from someone who was sticking up their nose at your lowliness?

Jesus invited the tax collectors and the prostitutes to hang out with him.  He built an affinity with them.  He used social selling, and he reached prospects whom he could never have reached by preaching.

Fast-forward to 2016, and social selling is alive and well.  Unlike in Biblical days, we have social media and we have tons of prospects to choose from.  Thousands, maybe millions, of prospects scattered across the globe makes it more difficult than just walking up to the few dozen known sinners in town and inviting them to hang out with you.

On the other hand, technology and automation make it easier.

Before we start digging into the whole technology and automation field, let me offer up one huge warning.  Be very careful where you draw the line between the efficiency of machines and the warmth of human contact.  This line will be different in each market, and particularly different in consumer products compared to B2B services.

Read also:Interview with Mike Ellsworth about social media for B2B

There are three things that technology and automation can do very well across all sectors.:

  1. Identify potential leads.
  2. Get connected to those leads on social media.
  3. Start the conversation (initial outreach).

I was introduced to Socedo, which calls itself an “Automated Social Media Lead Generation” platform. It describes its service as: “Find your target audience, engage them with one click, and fill your funnel.” In some markets, this might be all you need to make your sales, or at least enough sales to be happy. A totally automated process.

Socedo screenshotIn other markets, this might be just the beginning, but it should still be a strong base on which to proceed with building deeper relationships.

I’ve seen a lot of social media management tools, and most of them are all about what to share so as to build your reputation and extend your reach. While both of these are important, they are not about making the sale. For that, a platform that identifies prospects is much more important.

Identifying your targets is a step you can safely automate. You might miss some prospects, and you might get some false positives, but I have a hard time imagining how that can do you harm in most niches.  And the more targets you identify, the better chance you will have increasing sales.  As Tom Martin says:

“So while great content absolutely has a place in Social Media and Social Selling, and lack of it surely will lead to your downfall, don’t fool yourself. Numbers matter. Focus on growing your numbers.”

Connecting with them on social media is a step that can easily be automated without repercussions.  Nobody will complain if you follow them on Twitter or send a friend request on Facebook or Google Plus.  Assuming you’ve identified the right people who are part of your target market – Do you know who your target market is? – automatically following the people you’ve identified is just common sense.

It gets trickier from there.  I was watching the Socedo three-minute video, and I think they have the right approach.  They have the system set up differently for outbound marketers and inbound marketers.

In a sense, it is easier for inbound marketers, because the goal is simply to drive prospects to one’s website (landing page, content, whatever will drive sales).  The whole system is fairly automated, although human intervention can often enrich the process.

For outbound marketers, including a lot of B2B services, it is less obvious where to draw the line between automation and jumping in with the human touch.

In either case, a progressive approach makes sense.  First favorite a tweet, which sends the prospect an alert, so that they know you exist.

Why favorite a tweet, when a retweet would be a much stronger signal? If you were doing this manually, and could use your judgment as to which tweet to retweet, I would go with retweeting.  But this is automated, and I don’t think you want your tweet stream filled with tweets that you did not carefully vet. Favoriting is much safer.

If you want to jump in manually at this point, by all means find something of the prospect’s to retweet.  That would be a very strong signal and definitely worth doing for any prospect you would highly value.

Next, follow the prospect.  Once again, they will get an alert, and this time it is a very strong one.  Not everybody follows back, and not everybody pays attention to their alerts.  This is the point in the relationship where the prospect takes control. Essentially, this is the first triage; those who follow back become real prospects.  An automated direct message (DM) can move that prospect to the next step.

For outbound marketers, that next step is a conversation starter. I would suggest asking a question that has nothing to do with your product, but has everything to do with the prospect.  But who am I to advise you on this?  If you are a good salesperson, you will know better than I how to start an effective conversation.

For inbound marketers, that next step might be a landing page link.  Just be very careful not to sound too salesy.  The click-through traffic from that DM will be inversely proportional to how salesy your message sounds.

Be forewarned: not everyone will appreciate the automated DMs.  Some of us – yes, me included – don’t respond to automated DMs. I don’t like being addressed by a machine and I don’t like being sold to.  Then again, I am obviously not your target market.  People like me will just ignore your auto DMs.  No loss, no gain. Next!

There are others who hate auto DMs, convinced that they are evil and will blast you into a hyperspace vortex by slamming on the “unfollow” button.  I don’t respond to automated DMs, but I won’t unfollow you for it.  Still, you’ve lost nothing if auto-DM-haters unfollow you. Next!

What if they don’t follow you back?  Should you direct message them anyway? It was less than a year ago that Twitter opened up DMing to anybody, even non-followers.  So far, I have not heard of massive spamming, but if you decide to start DMing non-followers, you could get yourself in trouble.  As far as I know, auto DMing new followers will not get you in any kind of trouble.

My suggested best practice for inbound marketers is to never DM a stranger.  Stick to DMing followers. If they don’t follow you back… Next!

My suggested best practice for outbound marketers is to be very selective and very custom or personal when DMing non-followers.  There are times when it is worth reaching out through a direct message to specific  prospects who did not follow you back.  There are some companies you might really want as clients, and you want to start a genuine human (non-automated) conversation.

A single, custom DM to get a conversation going should not get you in trouble, and it might be worth hundreds or thousands of dollars. Of course, if they respond, you are free to engage in a productive DM exchange.  There are some great tips on how to use DMs on the BundlePost blog and on the Social Media Hat blog.

Of course, what is safe today might be trouble tomorrow, as social media rules are in a constant state of flux.  So it pays to keep up on the latest trends.  Twitter publishes the rules here.

I won’t even try to guess how Jesus would reach out to outcasts today.  I would like to think that he would follow my advice for outbound marketers.  That he would identify them, perhaps not because they include the word “sinner” or “outcast” on their profiles, follow them on Twitter and then nurture relationships with anybody who follows back.  Or he might stick to offline social selling. The truth is, we will never know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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TrueTwit marketing is evil genius

Nov 30, 2015 - filed under marketing 8 Comments
 

Why does every story have to have an evil genius? TrueTwit has done something visionary, but you’ll have to get past my rant first.

I am impressed by something TrueTwit is doing these days, and has been for the past month, in the field of marketing. For those who know what I think of TrueTwit, this might come as a surprise. For those who have never had the pleasure to hear me rant on this topic, now’s your chance.

What makes this marketing visionary?TrueTwit is a service the forces people fill in a captcha field before they can follow you. Here is how TrueTwit works:

  1. You follow somebody.
  2. Truetwit sends you an automated direct message (DM) with a link: “To validate click here“.
  3. You click the link, and land on a TrueTwit page
  4. You successfully complete the captcha on that page, and now you are finally following the person that you had actually followed three steps ago.

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Click Here! Two action words worth using

Oct 26, 2015 - filed under SEO Comments Off on Click Here! Two action words worth using
 

Some people will tell you to avoid linking with “Click here” as anchor text.  But look what you would be missing.

If you are old enough to remember the olden days when SEO was “a thing” – before it became something to carefully ignore with a studious sideways glance – we were all counseled to avoid using generic terms like “click here” as anchor text on links.  “Click here” was a dirty word.

Even I was counseling against that approach, and with two very good reasons.

First, the search engines could see what a page was about by reading it, but they also wanted to know what other people thought the page was about.  So they would read the anchor text of hyperlinks pointing to the page for clues.

If the anchor text said “content marketing for real estate promotion”, the search engines would assume that the page was at least somewhat about “content marketing for real estate promotion”.  The page would therefore rank higher for “content marketing for real estate promotion” and for related phrases, such as “content marketing for real estate” and “real estate promotion”.

Using keyword-rich anchor text made good SEO sense.
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Your website’s need for speed

Aug 24, 2015 - filed under website conversion 15 Comments
 

If it seems like life has been getting faster every day, that’s because it has. And if it seems like the Internet is getting faster every day, that’s because it is. We’ve moved from pedal boats to rocket ships.

As the Internet speeds up, your competitors speed up, too. And that creates expectations on the part of your two most important audiences – your customers and visitors, and the search engines on whom you probably rely to bring you customers and visitors.

Public expectations are pretty harsh these days. With life so fast-paced, is it any wonder that 47 percent of the public expects your web page to load in two seconds or less? Or that 57 percent will abandon your website if it take three seconds or more to load? Or that the reason half your customers don’t complete their purchases, but rather abandon their shopping carts, is due to impatience with load times:

“Roughly 70% of online shopping carts are abandoned before checkout, and new findings suggest that slow load times are the number-one culprit.”

As long as people can get what they want at the speed they want elsewhere, they won’t put up with a slow shopping cart. Slow pages cut conversions. They also increase bounce rates…and that can affect your search engine rankings.

Does your website have enough speed?

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Four ways to get your retail business online

Aug 11, 2015 - filed under marketing 2 Comments
 

It’s almost comical to imagine it, but there are still a ton of businesses that are not online.  I know, right?  That includes retailers.  But it is never too late to get online and discover how the Internet can make your business take off, as Brian Young discovered.  He got punched in the face, but you don’t have to take it that far to see why getting online makes good business sense.

Here are a few ways to quickly get online.  There is so much more than this that you can do, of course, if you want to be serious about it.  But this is a start.

Get your retail store online Read the rest of this entry »


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Are you getting paid enough on client projects?

Jul 22, 2015 - filed under clients 15 Comments
 

Do you track your time for client projects? Should you? And if so, how best to do it?

Tracking the time you spend on a client’s project might be easy for you. Or it could be a nightmare. The more a person works in a silo, the easier it is. The more a person multi-tasks, the harder it is.

There are two reasons why one would want to track project time. The first is the most obvious; if you charge by the hour, you need to track those hours. If you don’t, you won’t get paid for your work and the clients will not be satisfied as to how much work they are paying for.

The importance of time tracking
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Email marketing – Do you GetResponse or focus on Constant Contact?

Jul 16, 2015 - filed under email 4 Comments
 

Once you choose an email provider for your blog or business, you are pretty much committed. So best make a very informed decision before you sign on, says guest blogger Gail Gardner.

Do you think all email providers are the same? There are some surprising differences. Choosing the best fit is important because moving an email list can result in losing a huge chunk of your subscribers.

Businesses can take a shortcut to choosing the right solution by using the same strategy for solution providers they use for choosing products: peer reviews.

Instead of using technology to automate processes, think about using technology to enhance human interaction. – Tony Zambito

Instead of popping over to Amazon, focus on sites that compare solutions. While some “Top 3” type sites choose the three with the highest affiliate commissions, there are legitimate sites that focus on comprehensive reviews. Read the rest of this entry »


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Infographics as business tools

Jun 15, 2015 - filed under marketing 6 Comments
 

People think of Infographics as a viral Web tool, but they have a much wider application and a richer history.  Recently, we have been creating Infographics for use in a variety of exciting offline applications, some of which I will be sharing today.

Even as a child, I recall Infographics in newspapers and magazines.  Often they would be maps of unstable areas of the world, trying to explain to us North Americans what was going on visually (because so many of the place names meant nothing to us without the map).  I recall Infographics that helped explain economic trends, because numbers would be confusing without a visual display.

USA Today Infographics

Infographics really came into their own when USA Today was first published. That publication built a lot of its brand on quick and easy-to-digest news, which included visual representations of key take-aways.

To this day, Infographics are an integral part of newspapers and news magazines.  In fact, there is even a blog dedicated to newspaper Infographics.

But for some reason, we talk about Infographics almost exclusively as a viral tool on the Internet. Read the rest of this entry »


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The 5 rules of blogger outreach

May 18, 2015 - filed under guest post 15 Comments
 

Want to get the attention of a blogger? Here are five rules, along with a little insight into my own reactions to the non-stop spam I get from people like you.

Almost every day, somebody emails me offering to write a free post for this blog. Sometimes they offer a list of titles. Sometimes they tell me to name the topic, and they’ll write something for me. Sometimes they are not even in my niche. They obviously don’t read my blog.

And that is the first rule of blogger outreach. Know your target audience. Read the blog.

If people were to read this blog, they would understand that I don’t publish same-old, same-old drivel. I publish opinionated analysis of the state of online marketing. That’s right, my opinions; this post is a fine example of how I write for my own blog. I occasionally do publish a guest post, but it is certainly not from a stranger taking a pot shot and hoping that something sticks. Stay tuned and I’ll tell you the two ways to become a guest blogger here.

The second rule is to be very, very respectful.

Whether you come begging or pushing a wheelbarrow full of gold, you are seeking a favor from the blogger. You are hoping to be published, to get exposure, to build a link, to build traffic, or to get Austin Moon’s attention by posting something on my blog. Well, maybe not get Austin Moon’s attention on my blog – that’s would be someone else’s niche.

Blogger outreach done wrong

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Redden up your website

Apr 22, 2015 - filed under web design 2 Comments
 

Red is a powerful color, evoking passion and warnings, excitement and action. But is it a color you would want to identify your business? Would you want your logo in red? Would you want your main website colors to include red? Would you want to brand yourself red?

In many cases, the answer is yes. In other cases, the answer is not. Let’s look at the psychological meanings of red and see if the color is right for you.

SPOILER ALERT – if red is not an ideal main color for your business, you still should use red in one specific case – even if red is the worst possible color for your business. But I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s first look at red as a main color for your brand.

RED color for website

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