When people consider what makes a business successful, “who you know” is often the common denominator. In our global economy with social media at everyone’s fingertips, the ability to know people can exceed anyone’s wildest expectations. Knowing is also a relative thing, because what you see on social media can be extremely superficial.
With the riches of available resources, how does a business decide where to place its time and talent to reach their eager customers? It’s time to dig deeper to find the information you really need.
If you are in a field with a dominant competitor, find out where their customers congregate. Online or in person, you can look as knowledgeable as they are. Examine and analyze what they do to stay involved with their customers. Look for differences in their approach where your company can be the star and shine.
So, if the competition offers superficial responses on social media, be the responsive, engaging alternative. If they contact you and they catch you at a busy time, get back to them quickly. It’s all about responsiveness.
“People buy from people they know, like, and trust.” Note, this starts with people, not companies. A company can certainly have a good reputation, but gaining the “know, like, and trust” part of the equation is harder for a corporate entity. People and personas make things real.
Think of marketing campaigns for insurance, like the ever present, wacky, but relatable “Flo” from the Progressive Insurance ads. Flo is a character, but easy to remember. She is a composite of people everyone knows. Do you know, like, and trust Flo? Possibly.
Video is where real people come across. Between YouTube and the reality shows, people see what they perceive as real. Careers have been made by someone who comes off as charming, knowledgeable, and relatable in a video or show.
Do the Research
If you want to differentiate your business, you need to know who your audience is. Who are the people in your demographics? Where do they congregate on social media? Are you on Pinterest or Snapchat when you should be on LinkedIn? Don’t discount what a good old Google search with keywords could do to get your targeting started.
Use keywords to define who your audience or buyer is. Find out where they buy, whom they trust, and what makes them loyal. People want to feel valued and where they can quickly make a purchase.
Finding places to analyze data is easy. Use tools like NinjaOutreach or BuzzSumo to find your influencers and your market. Fine-tune the results by social media, location, and type of social media engagement or other esoteric criteria.
Armed with this knowledge, reaching out to the audience you’re seeking is easier. You can be the person they know, like, and trust because you build empathy when you reach them with human concerns about them as people.
When Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, lost her husband, it made people see her as more relatable. Her approach changed to one where she tried to help people deal with losses with a book she wrote. However, for some book reviewers, they saw the book as a way to fill her coffers. You can’t always convince everyone.
Find Your Tribe and Your Advocates
When business people are asked who their customer is and they say, “Everyone,” they are in trouble. Once you’ve narrowed down the potential buyer or market, you have a greater opportunity of influencing them because you now have a manageable target market.
Knowing people who have influence is an important part of getting social media to work for your business. Influencers can have millions of followers or just a few hundred who are avid.
Without compromising your ability to sell or the influencer’s reputation, you can find the people most likely to influence their followers in your direction. Then it’s just a matter of deciding how you and the influencer might work together, maybe you provide them your product and see if they like it enough to share with their followers, or maybe you sponsor some of their posts backing your product.
Who could be your influencer? It could be a celebrity, actor, bloggers, product reviewers or someone who just likes your product. If the influencer is observed using your business’s product, that is the highest endorsement. People pick up on those cues, and, because they like to appear “in the know,” they almost subliminally use that information to make buying decisions.
Whatever you do, even if the influencer has a lot of clout, if you don’t agree with their belief system or their policies conflict with yours, don’t start or continue the affiliation.
Wash, Rinse, Repeat — but Stay Agile
If something works, keep doing it, but pay attention to trends and be able to adapt. Think of celebrities like the Super Bowl heroes who announce proudly that “I’m going to Disneyland” after they’ve won the major prize. These athletes would, naturally, influence families and sports fans.
When a company changes or the market they’ve been appealing to changes, it’s time to adapt. For years, the idea of eating beef was severely criticized by health gurus, which hurt the industry. Slowly, the cattle industry came back. Hamburgers went gourmet; steakhouses have had resurgence in recent years.
For aging Baby Boomers who were jetsetters, approaching them with health issues, retirement locations, and concerns about legacies may resonate. Millennials may be more interested in upward mobility and job opportunities, plus worthy ways to volunteer on their vacations.
Whatever way you relate to your target market, be sincere and offer them real value.
The object of a successful business is to build a loyal following with a superior product. That’s how to inspire influencers, gain trust, wow your market, and succeed in business. With these tenets as the bedrock for business, using social media tools and other approaches to marketing can only enhance success.
The most effective companies stand out from the competition. They’re different—they research their audience, use their advocates and stay agile in an ever-changing environment.
The question is, will your business be a run-of-the-mill company, or a winner?
How do you make your business stand out? Are you setting your business up to succeed or fail? Let me know in the comments!
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