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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?

Jeff Molander

Published 19 April, 2010 by Jeff Molander

Jeff Molander is a professional speaker, publisher and accomplished entrepreneur having co-founded what is today the Google Affiliate Network. He can be reached at jeff@jeffmolander.com. He is a regular contributor to Econsultancy. 

29 more posts from this author

Comments (2)

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Anna Silva, Online Marketing Analyst at L'Occitane

Very well put.  As someone who has worked on both the agency and client side i can vouche that far too many companies are led astray by 'experts' spouting the next miracle solution.

Granted, they do have some good advice but, it's important for companies to use their own judgement to cut through the buzz words and inflated case studies / white papers to find ways to apply it to their business objectives.  No two businesses are the same.

Finally, over here we measure buzz, engagement and followers etc. in the social media sphere...but in the end, if it's not resulting in an increase in repeat customers/orders (and all the 'hard' metrics surrounded it), then its a channel we abandon until we can find a way to make it work.

over 6 years ago

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Andrew Marshall, SEM Manager at s1

Surely it's all relative to what kind of product or service you supply? If you sell car parts then generating 'buzz' through social media might never help you make any sales, but if you sell ethical coffee products then it might make a big difference. Although you might not see extra sales coming from your twitter account, people may be reading your tweets and deciding that you are people they want to buy from. They may just visit you through a Google search or they may shop in your stores but all these things are VERY hard to monitor.

I think that when it comes to creating 'buzz' around you brand that you need to look at it from an outsiders point of view and always canvas people to see what they think.

Not that I'm saying social media is the be all and end all....there are loads of companies out there with blogs etc that are wasting their time and will never see any benefit (other than maybe and SEO one).

over 6 years ago

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