I spent yesterday morning at a product camp which was a gathering of product managers, product marketers and other professionals concerned with product development, management and marketing. The group included these professionals and many entrepreneurs and CEO’s of small companies hoping to learn from each other. There were about 60 smart and very experienced people from many different industries and backgrounds and yet after talking with many of them one topic seemed in common……………………………………………..
It is a VERY confusing time and businesses are struggling to not only identify what kind of techniques to use for product marketing or even understand what marketing means to them and their company. This is not a criticism of them in any form, these are very talented, creative people who have a vision and have developed products of many kinds but just don’t have the bandwidth to understand what needs to be done, much less know how to do the job properly. So some ad hoc attempts at marketing have been pursued but ultimately a proper modern marketing campaign has to be developed and implemented in order to generate some sales momentum.
With that introduction and the setup in the first three parts on this topic, it’s time to get into the red meat of the topic. Let’s start with the most important talent your marketing team MUST have if there is any hope of making viral marketing happen and which is crucial for businesses without large sales departments………..Content Creation! You can’t make people come to you unless they have a reason to! This is a brand new task for today’s marketing professional. Content creation is now a very large part of what marketers need to work on every single day.
You draw people to you by providing something people want or find interesting and you do it for free. This is what I mean by content. A good example is Betty Crocker, they create content by providing recipes and cooking instruction which draw users to their website. Not only does this create a pull to the site but the content features the ingredients/products that they sell. A homemaker will find a great recipe and share it with his/her contacts and so on.
Marketers now have to write white papers, create video how to’s and tutorials, blog articles, get involved in industry specific forums of all types and become voices that build credibility and are followed and quoted all the way back to your product. When these efforts are done properly the information is “shared” between consumers in the form of re-tweets, Likes, etc. and the message goes viral. It’s important these efforts be genuine yet discrete, wearing the company badge while posting can seem less than genuine and not have the intended effect unless the posts are on the company site.
Once you draw eyes and have these new and unique visitors to your website or social media account it’s crucial they are made to feel special and involved with your company and products. This is an expectation that customers who are used to interacting on social media have and you need to take notice. If you fall asleep at the switch your social marketing efforts can turn negative real quick.
The ultimate result is the customer and all his/her contacts who INTERACT with you are no longer being sold to but feel invested in your company and become virtual marketers in your company. If they are respected and interacted with, you will quickly find that not only will they be loyal customers but are more than likely to become evangelizers of your product.
Another method to draw customers to your door is identifying “influentials” through the use of analytics. The proper use of analytics will give you the demographics of your consumers and data which identifies their habits and interests and most of all who they follow. The people they follow and quote are their influentials.
Getting the eyes of an influential is a sure fire way to get your message into a viral level. Influential’s not only already have credibility of those who follow them, they have the added ability to influence choice (see the Lady Gaga analogy previously outlined). Getting the eyes of an influential or, better yet, your product into their hands, will make them feel part of the effort and they will be glad to help or in the case of a celebrity open the door to a financial arrangement.
Blogging is one of my personal favorite ways to connect. Blogs, because of their informational nature, are not only trusted but are frequent hit results for searches. Blog entries can get linked to Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and now Pinterest to increase exposure. Because of a blog’s continuity it can be updated regularly and increase the chances of gaining conversions over time.
Blog’s are also a wonderful way to gain buy in from influentials. Who would decline an opportunity to be interviewed for a blog post? Flattery is a great way to convert.
Because of the informational nature, blog’s also tend to be bookmarked and used as reference so take your time and keep this fact in mind before you publish. Peer review is also in order if possible.
We’ve now covered some of the ways available to start to draw potential customers to your company and products. You first have to create your gateways into your company by creating profiles on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin at a minimum and make sure you staff a constant presence to monitor and respond. You will then make sure to post links to content of all kinds and monitor results.
You need to CAREFULLY plan and set social media policies in place to make sure there is a responsible face of your company being portrayed and most of all decide if you will stick to it. Nothing looks worse than a company quitting their presence.
Stay tuned for Pt. 5 where we start to look at how to identify who to target, how to measure results and quantify your efforts as you go along.