Daniel H. Pink’s, “To Sell is Human,” highlights a fresh look at the art and science of selling. This has always been an important topic for entrepreneurs and business owners, learning how to convince people to purchase their product or service. In the early days, the art and science of selling was one human to another, playing off of a nice smile, friendliness and emotion. To sell a product or service, most businesses invested heavily in the role of the salesmen who walked door-to-door pushing products and services to housewives and businessmen. Over the years, television, print advertising and radio have also been key ingredients in the recipe for a good sales and marketing plan.
Those days have changed, and the world has changed with the invention and innovation of technology. This is especially noticeable with the introduction of the Internet, it is becoming increasingly important for businesses to have several modes to communicate their buy/sell message and the World Wide Web is one of them. One very important platform on the Internet today deals with incorporating social media and guiding your way through the maze of offerings, and pop up products and services is daunting, tasking and time consuming.
In July 2012, the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) report on “The social economy: Unlocking value and productivity through social technology,” examined the economic impact of social technology. The report noted that 72 percent of companies use social technologies and that companies will go on developing ways to reach consumers through social technologies and gathering insights for product development, marketing, and customer service. This makes perfect sense that companies are using social media, because more than 1.5 billion people are using social media globally based on the report. Prospective customers are spending a large part of their day using social technology, and less time using traditional outlets such as television and radio. With social technology becoming one of the fastest ways to connect, communicate and share a message from one person to another, it only makes sense that businesses are making the move as well.
Social media is becoming the yard stick on how businesses are being measured. Many may wonder, how so? I did everything I was supposed to do, by creating my business plan to direct me in the right path, many years of experience and education to assist with managing and leading my business, accessing capital to fund the operations of my business, opened up my Rolodex to let my friends and family know I am open for business, trained my sales force on my product or service, promoted my business through a series of press release and promotional activity and placed the “Grand Opening” sign on my front door; oh and by the way, I’ve made money in business before so I can do it again. In today’s market, a proven track record and even the presence of a website is not enough, rather these are simply the basics of what is required. In today’s world, our customers are no longer making decisions on buying and purchasing through traditional methods. Over the past few months, 50 percent of our new clients found us through social media, while the other 50 percent were from referrals, which leads me to believe that our marketing plan has to adapt along with new technology.
Social media has to be part of the starter kit and that is the best way to make sense of it all. Understanding and establishing a presence on social media for your business is a critical step whether you are a startup enterprise or have been leading the charge of promoting products and services to your target audience for many years. Communicating your message and brand on social media is different than some of your traditional methods, however, at times it requires the same elements and ingredients that existing marketing platforms require. It is still very important to communicate who you are as a company (your brand), what you are selling (your product or service) and why your product or service versus your competitor (I’m better) is the right way to go. The platform you utilize determines how you communicate the message to your audience and the level of engagement required. We are in the information age, so buyers are looking for knowledge and information as a way to vet you out to determine if you have a quality product or service.
One of the first steps to make sense of it all comes back to the basics: you still need to do your homework and research to find out what works best for your company and your brand. This includes finding out what is out there and determining what platform will provide you with the best value based on what you can afford. Many platforms such as LinkedIn, Hoot suite, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, Facebook, Yelp, WordPress and many more are free to sign up with, however, if you want additional features, there is a cost. Factor in your target audience and demographics before you invest heavily, dedicate some time, establish a baseline to measure and determine how you will quantify your return on investment (ROI) before you add some dollars and cents to your overall marketing budget. Trust me, there will be some trial and error in the beginning, but as time goes on, you will figure out what works best for your brand.
By no stretch of the imagination am I a marketing expert, but I have been in business long enough to know that business is about customers, and wherever your customers are, you must find a way to make sense of it all to keep your tunnel filled. Anyone can have a great product or service, but if there are no customers that know where you are and how great you are, this equals no business.
Gerri Lazarre, CPA, MS Tax is a certified public accountant in the state of Florida and Georgia. She is principal of TriMergeCPA and TriMergeTax in Miami, Florida. Lazarre specializes in providing professional advisory services in the areas of accounting, audit and tax planning to individuals, businesses and nonprofit organizations for over 13 years. For more information, please visit www.TriMergeTax.com and www.TriMergeCPA.com.