Till a few years ago, marketing meant spending a deluge of money on a top notch advertising campaign, something which only big companies could afford. Then came the internet that changed everything with the concept of online marketing. Again, big companies with fat coffers and attractive websites scored the goal, which small entrepreneurs could hardly afford. However, a new revolution surfaced in the recent years with the arrival of social networking. Money was no longer the major concern as anybody and everybody could enjoy the benefits of social networking. Connecting with people and getting your message across was never so easy. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc provide you with instant connectivity and the power to reach out to thousands of people in no time at all.
Unlike the monologues of traditional advertising campaigns where businesses used to bombard customers with their message, social networking paves the path of multiple conversations. You can use the same to boost your sales as these platforms help in:
Communicating with your prospective and existing buyers: You can create a direct channel to connect with your present customers’ base and woo the prospective ones. Let them know about special deals, discount offers, end-of-season sales etc before others get to know about the same. Such an act will build trust and help you to forge a strong business relationship with your clients, resulting in augmented sales figures.
Listening to your customers: Encourage your customers to speak and act on what they have to share. If they praise some of your offerings, show a proactive approach by asking their suggestions for bettering the same. On the other hand, if they criticize a specific product or service, ask them how the same has failed to match their expectations so that you can set things right. Remember – participation is the key to effective social networking campaigns. So, make people feel important by seeking their opinion and act on their feedback to prove that you value their judgmental power.
Encouraging people to publicize your offerings: Word-of-the-mouth publicity helps a lot in getting the word out about your offerings. It adds to the credibility factor too as common people and not someone associated with the business is praising the products or services. So, to increase your sales, you should encourage your fan base or people in your contact list to spread the word. You may even offer some freebies or special deals for people who can successfully promote your offerings on the web. You can take a cue from Coca-Cola’s Facebook fan page that has taken the unorthodox step of displaying content generated by their users, while many other brands shy from doing the same.
If you are now wondering how you can get started with your social networking campaign, these steps can help:
- Create an account for yourself as an individual on some social networking sites
- You may create another profile for your business
- Add people to your friend list
- Expand your friend list. Add friends of friends, people from your industry or people interested in the kind of products or services you deal with.
- Make your business page informative and interesting
- Create a group about your business. Invite people to join the group. The more the members, the better will be your reach. Options like Become a Fan in Facebook enables a user to express his/her liking for your product or service. It creates a fan base, which in turn can act as your potential customer base. What’s more, new users also get drawn in through these existing fans.
- Include blogs in your group. Fill it with all the latest updates and activities regarding your business. Add a personal touch so that your viewers feel more at home. Ask for reviews of your products or services from existing customers. This way, you can get assess to the mood of people, and have an insight into what works well and what doesn’t. Avoid sending bulk emails as it would lead to spamming.
As in any business marketing, you need to concentrate on a few basic things in your social networking campaign to make your business flourish:
Identify the target market: Conduct a thorough research into your business area and finalize on your target area. Identify your potential customers and try to reach them instead of taking your products and services to everyone.
Keep track of the changes in the market: You must be aware of the present market trends. You need to have knowledge about everything that may affect your business. A creative mind and smart innovation will give you the edge over your competitors.
Act on time: It’s a cat and mouse game. The faster you reach out to the people, the better it is for your business.
Have an open mind: Prospective and existing customers can often help you see something that you have either ignored or missed. So, it pays to have an open mind, listen to the people and act upon their feedback or suggestions. Remember – the willingness and agility to learn and interact effectively with people is the essence of social networking.
Though any one can create a social networking page, you need to identify the ones that can offer maximum leverage to your business. If you want to know more, stay glued to this place.
Harnessing Social Networks to Boost Sales - Part II Continues here.