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How Much Different Is SMM From Old School Marketing?

As with any innovation, we are often struck with amazement as to how we went so long doing daily tasks the conventional way, when there was a better solution that offered just as much, if not more valuable in less time. Social media marketing is one of those innovations that business owners look at as the game changer, the revolutionizing method of marketing on a small or grand scale. But is SMM all that much different than old school marketing, which has dominated the advertising agency for the better part of 50 years?

When Steve Jobs created the iPod, everyone thought it would revolutionize how we listen to music, and it has. However, the groundwork was already put in place with the invention of the Walkman. Jobs innovated and improved an existing concept, and by combining that with modern technology, we’re able to access our music libraries on our phones, iPad’s and laptops. Almost every song ever written is now available, and can be bought with just a click of a button, instead of buying individual cd’s or records and frantically searching for the album. Marketing and advertising have seen the same innovation, but instead of one man changing how we communicate and reach out to customers, a group of innovators have created the world of marketing as we see it today.

Advertising in the 20th century was mainly television commercials and radio and newspaper ads. It was pretty straightforward as companies could reach consumers on a massive scale by using a variety of methods to get their messages across. Today the focus is on social media, and instead of giant corporations dominating the advertising scene, small and medium sized businesses can have just as much success as their larger counterparts.

While television, radio, and newspapers are still used today, the innovation Steve Jobs had on the music industry, is the equivalent to what Mark Zuckerberg, Kevin Systrom, and the founders of Youtube and Twitter have done to business and marketing.

One could argue that Youtube, to some degree, has taken a bite out of television advertising. The same ads we see on television are now being seen on Youtube before videos. Combine that with Facebook through sharing links, and you not only have a platform that shares videos that are in essence ads, but a micro blog that allows business owners and marketers to share important news, information, and links to persuade consumers to buy into their products. Facebook can be seen as a mini newspaper because of the ability to post short tidbits of information, while also having the capability to purchase ads to specifically target consumers who would get the most value out of what the company is selling.

Instagram and Pinterest can be used as online catalogs, zoning in on one specific product at a time. Instead of mailing out printed catalogs to a number of recipients, pictures being posted to these two platforms can capture the attention and interest of specific viewers, and with Pinterest, a link can be provided which leads the consumer right to the online store.

Podcasts can be used similar to radio. The major difference here is that companies can choose which podcasts to advertise in, leading to a higher rate of conversion. If there’s a car discussion podcast, a local or regional auto parts store or supplier could advertise, which would have more of an impact on the listeners than if that same company decided to place an ad on the radio, despite the larger listening audience. Of course, podcasting is already niche oriented to begin with, and that plays a factor into how companies use that platform to reach consumers.

Twitter is the virtual billboard. The people who are scrolling down their Twitter feed are similar to the drivers who are passing by signs on a highway. Each tweet is a quick blurb with 180 characters and a picture to go along with the message. The most important factor for companies is how to get those users to click and go to their profiles, and that comes with eye catching photos and short phrases

Social media marketing isn’t exactly a new concept, but it does however offer platforms for companies to specifically target the right consumer. Instead of 30 second television commercials, radio ads, and newspaper articles, businesses of all sizes not only can capture a consumers attention with a strong social media marketing plan, but retain them and add to the community of consumers that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram/Pinterest, and Youtube can provide. Old school marketing captures attention on a grand scale and creates short-term recognition. While SMM, if done right, captures and holds onto the consumer, if those future customers see long term value.

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Car Dealerships: Don’t Be Afraid To Use Social Media

The name of the game is to sell cars, and what better way to do that than having an effective social media marketing strategy? Every other industry has hopped on board, and now it’s time for the auto industry to do the same. But what is really stopping dealerships across the country from branding and marketing their businesses to appeal to customers within their region? Unlike with TV ads, Facebook ads can target specific potential car buyers that live within walking and short driving distance of the dealerships that are advertising. So what’s the hold up?

First off, I’m just going to be straightforward. The social media accounts most dealerships operate are downright boring. You’re a business, not a virtual newspaper selling coupons every 3-6 months. Stop hard selling as if this is the 1950’s. One reason there is very little engagement with most dealerships’ social media pages is due to lack of trust. But more importantly, the content these accounts post aren’t worth reading or responding to. Instead of posting already used content by other dealerships that are selling the same brand, post unique content that shows off your showroom, best cars in your inventory, and interesting news or services that you provide.

Create a blog and share your content on your social media accounts. Tell possible car buyers why they should buy from you, why they should have their car serviced at your dealership, and explain the parts you use in the maintenance department to build trust and persuade car owners to come to you. Only posting when you have a sale or service special falls on deaf ears because you haven’t created good enough content that keeps people coming to your Facebook or Twitter page. They will inevitably glance or skip right over your post because 90% of your content is hard selling.

Post photos on Instagram. Herb Chambers BMW of Sudbury consistently posts pictures of BMW’s that are in their showroom. What 20, 30, or 40 year old doesn’t like a BMW M3, i8, or 435i Gran Coupe? You’re missing out by not posting on Instagram. The companies who are utilizing all social media platforms are increasing sales, but it’s their patience and determination that’s keeping them relevant because they’re posting good content that people want to see.

By being on social media, you’re in essence becoming an influencer. In studies, 27% of consumers are influenced by the cars they see on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Because the pictures contain the car on the road, in the city, or in the woods, consumers can visualize themselves driving that car, or taking that same photo on their vacation. You’re giving social media users eye candy that they just might indulge in.

This doesn’t just apply to car dealerships, but businesses in every industry. You have to capture the reader’s attention by posting articles that are worth reading, post photos worth liking and sharing, and posting quality content that will show up on people’s timelines. By not using social media, you’re feeding the perception consumers have of your business or industry as a whole. You can change that by showing who you are, what products you sell (in this case cars), and why consumers should walk into your doors and not the competition down the street.

Toyota Pasadena

Car Dealerships: You Should Be Selling An Experience, Not Just The Car

Even in the year of 2015, car buyers have a very negative perception of car dealerships. Go on Twitter, search the term “car dealerships” and you get many disgruntled consumers who aren’t happy about going to a dealership or spending any amount of time at one, even when they’re buying a new car. There are some tweeters who are complaining about the lack of free coffee or refreshments. At a few dealerships I’ve stopped at, I had the option of getting a bagel, coffee, and bottled water. Dealerships out there are missing out on a great opportunity to change the perceptions of car shoppers, and social media is the best way to create a positive vibe.

Mercedes Benz of Burlington, Massachusetts is about to reshape how consumers buy cars. While there are probably dozens of others in this state or across the country catering to and treating consumers like they really matter, many still haven’t caught on or marketed their upscale customer service specials. Mercedes Benz of Burlington feeds their customers with gourmet food and coffee, offers manicures, and car washes while they wait. Not only are the cars luxury and arguably best in class, but by treating their customers special, the word of mouth and the amount of referrals from happy car buyers will pay dividends in the short and long term.

If your dealership offers comforts that many potential car buyers don’t expect, you have to make that aware to them. You’re no longer just selling a car, you’re selling an experience. Jordan’s Furniture in Wakefield and Patriot Place in Foxboro were the beginning of a new trend, and they were far ahead of the curve. Bob Kraft doesn’t just own the Patriots, he owns an empire that is attracting fans, even during the offseason. Jordan’s Furniture draws customers despite the fact that some have no intention of buying furniture on that particular day. Mercedes Benz of Burlington, because of their special services and the treatment of their customers, will attract customers who probably were loyal BMW and Audi owners. This is the direction in which the industry is heading in.

You might ask, “How do we make potential car buyers aware of our high quality customer service?” The answer is simple. Use social media to your advantage. That’s where all your customers are, and by being friendly and acting human, you will change the perception car buyers have of car dealerships. That’s the biggest problem in the auto industry, lack of trust. You have to build that trust by posting quality and valuable content that makes customers engage on your social media pages. Show the friendly and comfortable environment your dealership offers. Post photos of your inventory and showroom. Give people visual appetizers so they’re comfortable when they walk into your doors.

Mercedes Benz of Burlington has got the right idea, and they’re executing to perfection when it comes to social media. They’re using all the major platforms and posting native content showing their best cars. You have to do the same or the dealership down the street who’s got a strong social media presence will steal your business. It’s 2015, it’s time to start marketing like it.

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Marketing Matters: The Sales Pitch – The Deal Maker or Breaker

In marketing and advertising the crucial element that either makes or breaks a deal is the sales pitch. This can take the form of a presentation in a board room, a face-to-face conversation, email newsletter, online advertising, or a commercial on television. The presenter must lay out the benefits of the product and or service that the company or the individual is providing, along with the cost and comparison to the competitors. Most products don’t sell themselves unless they’re an absolute must have for every household, but even then, the sales pitch is what introduced the customer to that product which in turn creates sales.

Needing a new shade after years of being weathered and worn down, a local shade repairer and installer had to be called. He explained the differences between the shades that were available, their benefits, the costs, and which one would serve a better purpose. The shade that was chosen blocks sunlight to reduce glare, keeps the warmth in during the winter due to it’s depth and the material it’s made from, and keeps the cool air in during the summer. By reiterating the benefits of the shade it made his sales pitch stronger, and the price that came along with it closed the deal.

As an experienced professional in his field he knew exactly what worked and sold it to his customer. That is successful marketing, and while the decision to go with the heavier shade was already agreed upon before he arrived, his sales pitch would be effective for someone who wasn’t sure what they wanted and needed the differences and benefits laid out on a table for them to see.

For this business owner, face-to-face conversations and presentations is the only form of sales pitching he does. There’s no Facebook or Twitter account, and no website. However, because shade repair and replacement is still in demand, he’s fortunate that his lack of social media presence isn’t hurting his sales, but they could definitely increase dramatically and help grow his business.

All business owners must pitch their products or services where potential customers can see them. I use this business owner as an example because of his strong sales pitch in a verbal conversation, but he hasn’t taken that next step and marketed to a broader audience that could increase clientele and income.

As I’ve said before, contractors or anyone who has a ¬†product or service that can be presented in pictures, should get on Instagram and start posting right away. For example, what my living room looked like with the old, worn out shade and now with the new, more durable shade that keeps the sun glare out. Facebook and Twitter can also have a positive affect. Even for a small company that provides a service that gets forgotten about, many people would switch to a shade that keeps the warmth in during the winter, and cool air in during the summer for one reason; to save energy.

The same goes for all the other small businesses out there. Just because you offer a service or product that only reaches a limited amount of people at one time, don’t confine your business to this number and get on social media if you aren’t already. In this day and age, clientele can grow at a much faster rate than in previous decades, and that can be credited to websites, blogs, and social media. If you’re a small business owner who only makes sales pitches in face-to-face conversations, I suggest to set some time aside and broaden your business’ horizons. There are probably many potential customers out there, and they’re waiting for you to approach them.

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Marketing Matters: What Are Some Contractors and Home Builders Not Doing?

 

SearsHouse115
Foter / Public domain

Depending on who you talk to, some contractors and home builders are doing well and are having no problem finding work while others are struggling. In an economy that seems to be up and down constantly, and some regions of the country prospering more than others, what can these contractors and home builders do from a marketing standpoint that they haven’t explored yet? Is advertising for this industry really as easy as snapping a photo and posting it on social media? Yes.

If you’ve read my previous articles on social media, you know that I’m a big buyer into Instagram, a site that seamlessly allows users to post pictures they’ve taken and share them to the world. Home builders and contractors should listen up; not many in my region of New England have done this yet and it might be different elsewhere. Whether you’re a carpenter, remodeler, painter, electrician, or plumber, frequently post pictures of your work. Show viewers the new wooden floor you installed and what it looked like before you started, or for the other contractors mentioned, post pictures of the difference from your work to what was already existing in that room.

For the home builders out there, go on Instagram and share the work your company has done in a neighborhood, the houses you’ve built, not only the interior, but exterior. Create a blog; explain and illustrate the houses that you and your team constructed. Explain why you’re different from all the other home builders out there, and how you’re going to be worth the customer’s time and money. Across the board, this industry captures many viewers attention and for those who need a remodel, a new floor put in, or a completely new house, you can show them by the previous work you have done.

Houses are one of the essentials in life which means many people want to own or rent one. Instagram is a social media site that can help market and advertise what you do, unlike the yellow pages or even a website. A few pictures a day from the interior to the exterior says a lot more than a 500 word about us page. It’s also not a bad idea to create a Youtube account giving the viewer a live look at the house, and give them a better picture as to what the rooms will look like with their furniture.

There have been trying times in the housing market, but with social media you can advertise without spending a dollar, and the potential clientele you’re reaching by using these sites are greater than if you handed out flyers or created an ad in the yellow pages.

In a good or bad economy people need their houses repaired both internally and externally, and by posting pictures, creating a Facebook and Twitter page, you’ll give the potential customer a reason to spend money. That’s the key. Successful marketing isn’t just having an ad here or there, it needs to be so good that the customer has a desire to pay you money so that their floor looks new, the plumbing and electrical circuits are fixed, or the addition is done perfectly.

Unlike most industries, the housing market is a place where people constantly dream, and along with that comes emotions and wants in their houses since they were young. You’ve got to fulfill that, and by gaining their trust through Instagram and other social media sites, it can be done without spending hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on advertising.

As with all companies and businesses in any sector, you have tools that can be used to help market what you’re selling and the services you provide. Social media is a game changer and should be utilized in any way possible. You don’t need to be in a home design magazine, Instagram will do that for you, and the best part, it’s free.

 

New Instagram Logo

The Power of Instagram From A Marketing and Business Point of View

New Instagram Logo
stevegarfield / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

 

Instagram is one of, if not the most powerful social media site for businesses that can be used at their disposal. Companies spend thousands of dollars on advertising when there are other alternatives that can target specific customers that produces a higher success rate in terms of views and interest. One picture of your product can result in a buzz on Instagram, creating a snowball effect that could gain traction in a matter of minutes. How is this possible? Visuals. People want to see a product, not read about it.

As an experiment and being influenced by friends, I created an Instagram account and posted some pictures from an auto show I had attended. Within a few minutes I already gained a few “likes”, and this was without using many hashtags and words. The same can happen for businesses and corporations, yet not many take advantage of this marketing tool that is waiting to be used. BestBuy and J.C. Penney are just a few of the big retail stores that aren’t posting pictures of their products on Instagram, and perhaps this could be one of the many reasons why these two stores are struggling.

Twitter also has this affect if used properly, but the tweets have to be tailored to a specific audience. Instagram on the other hand appears to be different in that pictures tend to go viral faster than words. For clothing stores such as American Eagle, they’ve already figured it out, posting pictures of a discount tag showing that they’re having a sale. Then, posted on the windows of their stores, they ask the customer to post pictures of themselves wearing their clothes. This is how you create a following and market on a small budget. There is nothing wrong with going the traditional way, but social media is proving to be more successful for those who are advertising in 140 characters or fewer.

There are many small businesses on main streets and side streets with high foot traffic, but how many of the people driving or walking by enter those stores? Face it, these businesses get forgotten, or at the very least aren’t recognized for what they are and what services they provide. Along with a Twitter and Facebook account, posting photos of the front of your business or store, the products you sell, or if you’re a contractor with a logo, post it. In every city there is always that one contractor, electrician, or plumbing company that gets most of the business because of their popularity, and because of this, there is a possibility they haven’t ventured out to social media. Do what you’re competition isn’t.

As with all social media sites and blogs, posting often is another way to gain followers. Having a static page that doesn’t update regularly won’t attract any viewers, and there is a chance people will begin to unfollow. Customers want fresh content, and when it comes to a blog, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, you have to post as if these followers are your clientele. It’s marketing and advertising, simply put. These social media sites aren’t being taken seriously, so you must be the first ones to do so.

As entrepreneurs you must all be open to new ways of spreading the word about your business and what services it provides. For too long small stores have sat in the shadows of the big conglomerates, but with social media that can all change. There are opportunities out there and some of them you’re already using, but not in the form of business, marketing, and advertising. Take the next step and stand out from the rest. Be the first to innovate and change how advertising is done on a local level. Social media is being used wrong, be the first to exploit this technology.

Can Instagram and Storify Be Used For Marketing and Advertising Purposes?

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brendanlim / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

 

Instagram is used by millions of people who post pictures of themselves, others, the skylines of the cities they live in, the changes in seasons, and anything else that can be captured on camera. In terms of marketing can this social media site be used to advertise products? Absolutely. However, not even the major stores such as Best Buy or JCPenny are taking advantage of the opportunity to market their TV’s, laptops, or clothes. The companies are missing out on a whole new way of advertising that doesn’t cost a cent, but worst of all, there is a marketing element to Instagram that these stores are failing to capitalize on.

When customers go to the stores, especially at clothing outlets, what is the order of their actions? They search for the item they want that in some cases they stumble upon it in the store, try on the clothes, and then decide whether to buy the article of clothing or not. American Eagle already has this idea in mind and posts pictures of what they have in stock on Instagram, and the same should be done by all clothing stores across the entire industry. Social media is where the customers are, and some of these big conglomerates aren’t marketing the cheapest and easiest way.

In most cases, it’s the customer posting pictures of what they bought, making them do the marketing, but it’s not a complete guarantee that they’re going to say where they bought the item. Best Buy on the other hand specializes in technology, and the products can sell themselves, but posting a picture of the price of the TV or laptop for instance, especially if there is a discount, can easily bring in customers to the store.

Even on a local level, why aren’t small businesses getting in on the action? Hashtags, if used properly can get many viewers and if they’re interested, they might read more into your business. If you’re a business owner from Boston and have a product to sell, hashtag the picture with appropriate tags, but also mention the area in which you’re based. Viewers will look at the profile and publisher of the photo, see the website that is part of your profile, and you’ve successfully advertised your product without spending a dime. Instagram is more than a social media site for photographers, it can be a way of marketing for both big and small businesses.

Storify is another social media site, but not as well known. Unlike Twitter or Facebook that only allows you to post a link at a time, Storify is more like a blog, giving you the power to drag tweets, Facebook statuses, Youtube videos, pictures from Instagram, and links from other sites all into one short or long article. This is another site that is a gold mine, but not being used to its full potential yet. Forbes magazine posts conversations from Twitter onto Storify, but if you have Twitter, there is no point in reading the same responses that you can find elsewhere.

Whether a big or small business, Storify can be exploited, and can be an efficient way to market and advertise to your customers. Instead of the consumer going to Facebook and then to Twitter to find information about your business or products, Storify conveniently puts everything you want to share with your followers all in one post. It’s incredible that businesses and magazines haven’t taken advantage yet, but this is when hopping on board can be beneficial, especially for the local startups and businesses.

Social media can be a business’ best friend when it comes to marketing and advertising. While most people use these sites to keep in contact with each other, there is a whole different aspect of social media that hasn’t been unearthed yet. The opportunity to cheaply market is there, and millions of potential customers are already in place to be marketed to. Take the next step; approach the consumer, inform them, help guide them to your business, and it can all be done on these sites.