The end of the innocence is the point at which ideals are shattered. Where reality and cynicism set in. The beliefs we held when we were younger have been changed if not replaced. By now, we know that just having a web site or a twitter account is not going to cut it. You can’t have your AA write your blog anymore. You can’t push out benign, boring, boilerplate press releases. By now, we should all know what to expect from a market economy that is either automated or heading to Asia. We all know what “shovel ready” really means. I’m still meeting with executives who are dazed and confused at why their on-line strategy is not working. Reality.
As sales forces dwindle, companies are struggling with “touch and feel” as they expand their on-line presence. This is where the marketer falls short when attempting to build brand loyalty. Just because you have become mostly automated, it doesn’t mean you have to make your audience feel like a digit. If the inexorable digital reality must happen, then there is a way to do it but it takes organizational effort. The auto pilot approach is a loser and CYA no longer applies. Social media needs to get more social.
This is a top down all inclusive effort where everyone is on the same page to reach an audience with varying needs and tailor the conversation accordingly. This takes attention to detail and a very watchful eye. That means the sales force that you have left must be in the loop and harvesting permission based e-mail addresses and relevant information. They must know how to ask and handle objections to a possibly irritating practice. They should be able to explain the benefits of having a non-abusive conversation that would include information and the latest news pertaining to that industry. It takes a reallocation of resources and a combined effort. No easy task in the beginning.
Sales and marketing must be one. In Dupont, we called it “smarketing.” It’s crucial because the potential for on-line abuse is very high. You are interrupting someone and it better be good. Messaging should be anticipated, relevant and personal. You can’t claim innocence when you are willfully invading someone’s head space.
Most executives agree with all of the above, but when it comes to implementation they fall short. It becomes a structural focus problem. It just seems too complicated to mimic the reach and frequency that used to be achieved with a warm body. It’s all good until we get to the jump off point and we have to commit.
The wide eyed coolness factor of social media is cold reality and as they say, content is king and distribution is queen. Social media today is not the band-aid it’s being touted as. There needs to be even more finesse and tact employed when replacing the up close and personal. Social media is still more sizzle than steak and misfires are rampant. When on-line communication is your only way in, you better know who you’re talking to and what they’re interested in then grow and nurture that relationship.
As James Altucher wrote, Communication is the thread that weaves humans into humanity. It’s still the same old story isn’t it?