It is tempting to jump right into the social media tools. They seem a lot more fun than developing marketing plans or doing traditional, boring customer research. The shiny, new Google+ app, slick LinkedIn group, a growing number of Twitter followers are a mysterious and addicting part of modern marketing. As explained in the last post, social media does not replace good sales and marketing practices, it supplements them. Back in the 1980s and 90s, good direct mail campaigns, a few magazine ads, trade shows, and a crack sales team were all that was needed for success. Where else would customers get information except by circling numbers on the “bingo cards” in the back of magazines? Today, the savvy customer already knows where your product fits in your marketplace. If not, they can join a specialized group on LinkedIn and ask the market directly, or worse, your competitors will jump in and answer! Here is an example of the Institute of Acoustics group. A member asked “Anybody have any experience with the Svantek sound levels meters? If so, do you like them? If not, why not?” The answers were all over the board. Some people didn’t like them. And one comment said “Plus, they look like the rubber bricks that kids use in swimming lessons in the UK at least to retrieve off the bottom of swimming pools!” Others just named their favorite meter. Is this the “unbiased” information you want your potential customers receiving?
In niche technology markets, you cannot just Google “Svantek reviews.” The search returns nonsensical information. This is why it is so crucial to have a social media presence as part of your marketing strategy. If you have no marketing department to speak of or if you are part of a larger, international company not based in the US, you might not have the local resources to create blog posts, webinars, podcasts, or videocasts, but you must have some traditional marketing materials such as datasheets, a website of some sort, demo guides, demo equipment, sales training notes, etc. So part of this series will also focus on repurposing these existing materials and integrating them with simple social media tools. Again, bear with me a little longer, the tools are coming, but the tools will not be of any use without a reliable source of interesting and useful content.