Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Importance of Social Networking

(and other web based marketing tools)

Part 1 of an ongoing series on marketing you!

I’m straddling two worlds.  One has only to look at my LinkedIn profile to see that those two worlds collide rather oddly at times.  The really cool think is that I’m trying out all these concepts that I’ve learned over the last twenty years in a business model (art) that is high risk and which we started in one of the worse recessions since the great depression.  And….what’s cooler than that?  They work!  We are making great progress and we’re ahead of my business plan as we closed our first fiscal year and our first 2 seasons of exhibits.  But that’s another blog post on the business aspect of your art.

I’m the business end of ‘some things looming’ and I get to apply all my life lessons and my OJT (on the job training) business education to a field of endeavor that is, as a rule, weak in the area of business acumen and self-promotion.  STL exists to promote fiber art, to provide a community atmosphere for fiber artists to promote their work and earn some income and to keep the traditional fiber arts alive for the next generation.

Ok... so let’s talk as Joan Rivers used to say.  I’m going to give you some lessons in sales and then I’ll tell you what I’ve been learning.  I’m by no means an expert.  That’s good and bad.  The good part is it means you can do at least what I’ve done.  The bad part is, well, I can only take you so far.  I’m just trying to give you a head start.  A term you can forget but will make you buzz word compliant if you have any friends in sales and marketing is Sales 2.0.  It kind of boils down simplistically to a push vs. pull sales and marketing strategy.   Let’s start with the concept so you don’t start, (“la la I can’t hear you”) tuning me out of this important information.

In the past, sales and marketing had to go out and beat down the door to get your attention.  Most of us hated that approach and put ourselves on the ‘do not call’ list to avoid it.  Current buying trends are 180 degrees different.  Think about this example.  You want to buy a new refrigerator.  What’s the first thing you do?  Google it.  “Best refrigerators in 2011”…. We check out consumer reports on line.  We find forums where people have done some research or rate the refrigerators you are interested in.  It’s easy and we don’t even leave our homes to do it.  By the time we get into the car, if we even need to get into the car to go shopping, we know exactly what it is we want to buy, where to go and buy it and what price we can expect to pay for it.  All the sales work happened between us and the internet browser.  It’s the difference between ‘push’ and ‘pull’.  Old sales approach?  Push.  New sales approach?  Pull.  Buyers pull the information they want.  If you are like me when I first heard this explained, you are nodding yes right now and are a little amazed that you do this without even acknowledging how much your buying habits have changed.

What does that mean?  You don’t just need a web presence, if you are serious about your work, you have to have a web presence.  For people to know about you and want to see your work and participate in what you are doing you need to engage them so they are seeking you.  You want to be interested in ‘pulling’ up information about you.

Over time, I’ll share what we’ve tried and is working so you aren’t over whelmed with too much information.  So step one is a freebie idea.  Get yourself a Fan Page on Facebook.  It’s free.  You can upload your professional information, photos and videos and create events and invite your friends.  Once you invite your friends, you beg them to invite their friends.   If you have a web site or a blog you can put a Facebook button on it and reach out to others.

Shamelessly encourage them to ‘like’ your page.  It costs them nothing and you never know who is reading their posts to you and saying, ‘Hmm…I’d like to know more about that.  Click”  My fan page is a competition for us.  We watch our stats each week and try different things to keep our fans engaged and coming back to see what we are doing.  Instead of playing Farmville, I play Fan Page.  How can I get more people to like my page and more importantly engage with my page.  Facebook fan pages are cost effective in terms of dollars.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that social networking is cheap, however, as the more marketing you do via the net the more time you will invest in keeping it fresh.  If you don’t keep your content fresh, you’ll be ignored.  Writing blogs, keeping up with social networks and your web pages fresh is a time commitment.  It’s well worth it and pays off.  Here’s one small statistic on us.  In one year, STL went from an emailing list of 150 to over 700.  Every week we get a few new Twitter followers.  I don’t even understand Twitter completely (More of that in a future blog).

So here's a challenge: go make your Facebook fan page.  Then invite ‘some things looming’ to ‘like’ you.  We will. And then let me know if this is helpful and a topic you’d like me to continue sharing.  Hit me up with a comment here or….(you guessed it) our Facebook Fan page, some_things_looming.


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