Businesses actually acquiring customers and selling their products and services using Facebook, blogs, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn know something most of us donâ€™t. The difference between wasting time by getting bogged-down in social media marketing tactics versus selling with it is knowing “what works.” As it turns out, the key to success still requires proven, traditional, direct-response marketing practicesâ€”not shiny new tools and techniques.
The Social-Selling Trinity
If your goal is to generate sales with social media marketing, youâ€™ll be wise to start practicing these three success principles.Â These fundamentals can actually sell products and services using social platforms.
Solve customersâ€™ problems by creating “ah-ha” moments of clarity that relate to your product or service
Design to sell by planning a social experience that provokes customers to respond
Discover customer need as it evolves, then apply this knowledge to improve the response rate in your “social design”
When I say “design to sell” what I’m really talking about is encouraging behaviors that ultimately connect to the sales funnel. Hey, that sounds like fancy-pants consultant speak. Okay, so what the heck does that mean?
In simple terms, everything you do, everything you “put out there” onto social media must do one thing every time: create behavior. That behavior must be part of a grand plan to move customers toward your product offering. Speaker and sales conversion expert Bryan Eisenberg has long touted what he calls these micro-actions as part of a courtship between buyer and seller.
“Good content marketing recognizes that we don’t have to close the sale every time we talk to a prospect,” says Doug Kessler of B2B marketing firm Velocity, who’s in agreement with Eisenberg. But this isn’t about agreement so much as it’s about getting better results by creating micro-actions. It’s also about having a plan beyond branding (e.g., creating attention) with social media and doing something with that attention.
If you want to create leads and sales, your tweets, posts, updates, blogs, videos, and podcasts should always be designed to induce a response from your target. Envision yourself coming into the office each day and focusing on developing creative, fun ways that compel the person on the receiving end of your missive to take an action. Simple.
In other words, don’t ever, ever ask for a “Like” on Facebook without giving your customer a reason to. Honor them. Tempt them. “Liking” you is not compelling. “Liking” you and thereby being entered into a sweepstakes or receiving something of honest value in return (e.g., access to useful knowledge) is what they want. So give it to them.
The Ethical Bribe
One quick tip that I learned from the people I interviewed in my book is consider how you might creatively bait customers (or ethically bribe them) into discussing or complaining about a problem in their lifeâ€”one that loosely connects to a solution you provide. That seems obvious doesn’t it? Then just get out there and do it. It works! But don’t forget to also envision yourself provoking an action by responsibly exploiting a complaint and enticing your customer or prospect to take a free trial or something similar that brings them closer to whatever they’reÂ demonstrating a need for.
For instance, grocery store Harris-Teeter pays customers to ask health and wellness questions of its Registered Dieticians on Facebook. Why would a grocerâ€”or your businessâ€”do that? Because helping customers can create a powerful response. Answering questions opens the door for discovery and for your business to make relevant suggestions. Using this approach, it becomes natural to offer a friendly tip or a useful trick. There may also be appropriate times to outline the benefits of becoming a customer, a member, a user, or taking a trial run.
Duh, I Know Jeff!
Effective marketing has always relied on prompting target audiences to take action. Right? Social media is no different. So let’s stop pretending that it’s simply because it’s a new platform. Solving customers’ problems using social media works because it’s what they want. It’s what you want, too, because it puts your brand or business in a power position.
Focusing on solving problems inherently sharpens your ability to design or â€œmap outâ€ simple processes that help customers guide themselves toward products and services they need. Yet there’s an even more dynamite technique to drive purchase behavior when customers are reluctant or not yet ready to buy: addicting a target audience to your non-commercial (â€œnon-salesyâ€) solutions, answers, or unique non-commercial abilities in return for the right to occasionally ask for the sale.
Jeff Molander is the authority on making social media sell and corporate trainer to small businesses and global corporations like IBM and Brazilâ€™s energy company, Petrobras. Heâ€™s an accomplished entrepreneur, having co-founded what is today the Google Affiliate Network. Heâ€™s adjunct digital marketing professor at Loyola Universityâ€™s school of business and author of Off the Hook Marketing: How to Make Social Media Sell for You.