Together, we’re creating better results from emerging digital tools by changing our expectation and practice of Web marketing itself.

I’m back with more details on improving sales, tomorrow, in three easy steps.

If you’re still with me after part one you’re likely to be in my camp: You think there’s more to emerging tools like Twitter and Facebook than just distributing coupons or links to white papers. Great. 

Today I recommend trusting your own instincts, questioning your consultants and
asking
yourself, “am I allowing myself to become a tool of the tools?”

Trust your instincts, question your consultants

What if “the experts” are wrong? What if they’re inhibiting your
ability to generate more sales, leads and meaningful customer
interactions that hit the bottom line? It’s time to ask difficult questions of your employees and
consultants.

You ask, “I need to sell more products, how can
the social web help?” The digital consultant answers, but with a
question, “Are you generating buzz about your brand on Facebook?” or
“Are you assessing your customers’ sentiment about your brand?” You have
no answer. Poof! Somehow your consultant’s question is more relevant
and urgent than your need to sell. Does this sound familiar?

You may adopt your consultant’s new questions, this new sense of
what’s important, as your own. Suddenly you’re playing catch-up. Your
brand isn’t in control after all.

You rush into the digital jungle with new-found
guides at your side, buzzing, posting and tweeting. But eventually you
wonder why your objectives aren’t met. The buzz, posts, tweets are
novel and real, but what about sales and leads? Does this sound familiar?

Are you being sold the wrong answers to the right questions?

I’ll admit: we’re all compelled to believe in a hyper-connected
world consisting of “new everything.” Facebook, Twitter, blogging,
iPhone apps. People are flocking to them by the millions. You can’t
sit idly by. But your gut still nags, “I think I’m relying on
well-intentioned but inexperienced guides; I think I’m just throwing
money at Facebook.” 

I say, don’t risk becoming a “tools of the tools” themselves. Resist becoming
bamboozled by “the
experts”, digital guru guides and vendors who all have a vested
interest in earning your “yes”, which means your budget dollars.

The environment has changed (ie. social media, mobile & our hyper-connected world). The rules governing your business stay the same. 

If we continue to believe the hype-and-spin that the rules of business have forever changed we risk believing that engaging, tweeting and friending is more important than making sales or capturing leads, or believing that somehow all we need to do is DO social media and the sales will roll right-on-in based on some kind of aimless “conversation” and mystical “branding.”

What you can do, tomorrow

  • Press these book-writing consultants to
    answer business questions first and without using words like
    traffic,
    engagement, positive sentiment, personas or buzz.
  • Ask yourself, “Are we hiring employees and vendors
    based on tactical skills rather than the ability to create strategic
    results?
    Do they ask the right questions or avoid ours? Might we already
    have many of the answers we’re seeking from the experts?”

    The answers
    may surprise you and prompt bold actions. Develop a means to learn how to hire social media marketing agency, as an example.  Focus on the quality of questions your prospective consultants ask of you. 

  • In a staff/vendor meeting, ask if
    you’re using the web to interact with customers intimately or if you’re
    blasting and tweeting into the ether
    . If you’re interacting, is it
    organized? Or do strategies work apart from (or compete with) each
    other? What actionable information does each interaction produce, and
    where does that information go?

    Is there room for each strategy to
    cooperatively push customers down the sales funnel using the collected
    information? Find ways to connect each strategy to the sales funnel, or else consider eliminating it.

  • Task your team to organize around logical customer
    behaviors and prompts.
     Behavior-creation is at the center of digital
    media’s value. And I’m not talking about buzz or positive sentiment or

    “conversation.” 

    To be clear… I’m talking about specific, measurable
    behavior that leads to qualitative
    outcomes. You may already understand what your customers want to do or like to do. How can you help them do those things, as I’ve discussed previously.

Here’s a great idea to get your creative juices going. Think about the best
social media example you’ve ever heard of. Now think about why
it’s the best. Why did it just spring to mind? 

It is likely to have some innovative or experimental qualities, but at the core you may discover how it drove behaviour: by design. What did it do to create a meaningful outcome for the customer and the business? Did it create something truly meaningful?

Experiment with digital marketing but with purpose. Successful companies are planning and designing digital media
to produce the tangible business outcomes they truly
need.

I’ll be back with more thoughts on how to create better ROI and meaningful outcomes by asking better questions of your team and consultants. Until then, what do you think?