A few great elements collided this week to provide some excellent insights that were immediately helpful to our clients, and I wanted to share some of those with you.
You don’t have to spend much time in marketing to come across the social media naysayers, though they’re harder and harder to find. In the case of one client however, I was having a difficult time making the argument for why he should bother with social media. And I’ll admit the data was all on his side. His is a very traditional face-to-face kind of business with even more traditional customers, mostly professional construction contractors who for the most part simply don’t play in social media. We went through the exercise of looking for his biggest, best and most loyal customers on the usuals – LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, and no dice.
As such we all agreed, at least in the short term, to forego the social media stuff. And anyway, there were already five or six balls in the air in his traditional marketing mix, and the pretty big task for us of thoroughly understanding the nuances of the business he is in. I now have a frighteningly high stack of vertical industry mags from his library to mine. Fun weekend reading up ahead.
Fast forward to last Thursday’s talk at the McGill Creative Writing Center, and a fabulous address by Mark Schaefer, “Cut through the Clutter” on content marketing. Although that was the focus, social media is of course the great enabler, and so plenty of attention was put squarely there.
One of the things he cites in the presentation is the not always fun, but entirely unavoidable social score card, by which to one extent or another we are all coming to be judged. Mark cites the three key ways to ignite content. The first two include creating emotional hooks, and building relatable triggers, but the third was social proofs. Obviously we’re not just talking about content anymore. As he cites his own experience, and whatever you may think or say about the idea of personal clout or influence, (to paraphrase Mark) those numbers at the top or bottom of your pages make a huge difference. All things being equal and without other validating elements, like brand recognition or equity, the number of likes, followers, fans and engagement you have are important, and only becoming more so. Popularity contest anyone? You bet.
So how does this relate to our client in a traditional, literally, brick and mortar business with clients and customers that aren’t on social networks?
We had a great meeting the next day and lunch to follow, and the subject of social came up again. I began by assuring him that none of the traditional direct and event-based marketing activities were going to take a back seat, but that he should consider this. I told him, that whether he believed it or not, it very likely he would at some cave to family pressure and open a Facebook account in his name. He didn’t disagree. I then added that I thought the same thing will happen to his customers.
Even if today social means nothing to his business. It will in 5 years, and even more in 10. And the social proofs of his business will be a component of the valuation of his operation, should he decide to expand, merge, or even sell the business. This completely changed the discussion, cancelled any qualms about social, for a business that doesn’t “do” social networks. And by the way, none of his competitors are there either. Great news!
But there’s more. By following the early faulty assumption that because his current customers aren’t online, who’s to say that the growth of his business over the next ten years won’t be with people he’s never met, in different pockets on the deep DIY home renovation circuit?
We’re betting that it will.