Be distinctive, be distinctive, be distinctive, be distinctive, be distinctive.
Get it? No?
Well, be distinctive, be distinctive, be distinctive.....
The universal truths out there are:
1. Social media is ubiquitous. There are over a billion websites, more mobile phones on the planet than people and even my father is an internet surfer.
2. We have less time than ever. We work longer than ever, sleep for less hours, and are unable to differentiate between work and home when we switch on that laptop/ipad/mobile....
3. Consumers have more choice than ever. If you are in a competitor free environment then it won't be in the "free world". Consumers can choose anyone, anywhere, anytime....
So what does this mean to your business?
If you want to be visible, there really is no choice you need to have a social media presence. Not just a website page that gives anyone who bothers to click on it a rough idea of what you do and how to contact you, but one that grabs their attention, elicits a response and make them act. It's a harsh world out there but if you haven't grabbed their attention in less than 3 seconds you have already lost their attention.
The halcyon cry that "marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department" is truer than ever. Consumers know it and hate it when they are bored by the same old twitter tripe that is knocked out in seconds by the newly appointed marketing assistant.
Ok I get it, so what next?
1. Work with your staff to consider what emotions you are trying to evoke. Do you want them to be excited, curious, horrified, anxious, mystified, or desperate.
2. Develop a social media strategy that drives attention in the chosen way and, please, don't compromise. Take one look at your competitors' websites and you will realise how dull they are. Probably the only people looking at them are their staff and competitors like you....
3. Create an approach that engages all staff, getting them involved. Ask them to be creative and trust their instincts.
4. Test it with your clients or your potential clients and monitor their responses carefully. If they hate it, is it because they are offended (clue - that's bad) or because it makes them uncomfortable (that could be good)?
5. Measure the impact. Not just in terms of followers and hits, but whose talking about your approach?
5. Be brave. Enjoy the frisson and excitement of knowing people are talking about your business, whilst they are certainly not talking about the competition.
6. Connect the virtual to the real. Make sure those consumers who have been inspired to contact you are greeted with a consistent approach - you have done the difficult bit of attracting their attention, don't lose them now.
When it comes to feedback, "Please sir, can I have some more?" is not the gentle refrain oft repeated.
"Can I give you some feedback?" is a phrase that to some of us is as welcome as a bout of measles and our natural reaction is to run for the hills or respond with a curt and assertive "no". Alternatively we will smile blithely and prepare ourselves for the onslaught. Our wired response may be so extreme that even if the feedback is positive, we sometimes react as if we have been mortally injured.
Why is this?
The tragedy is that although we would like to consider ourselves as sophisticated professionals when it comes to feedback we revert to our child like state, seeing feedback as criticism and potentially something that could get us into trouble. It is a deeply felt emotion and one that needs time, practice and a new mindset to overcome.
This response creates an inevitable outcome of imperfect communication, insecurity and, potentially, an unwillingness from the source of advice to offer any further help again. Oh dear.
Chris Lorimer is an
experienced management consultant who has helped many owners, Directors and staff to achieve more.