Sunday, June 30, 2013

Use Social Media to Defeat the Giants in Your Industry

Today, let's consider the High and Mighty --  vs. -- the Low and Loved. 

Social media is leveling the playing field, enabling the small business to compete with giant competitors. You can now beat the colossus by running between their towering legs and finding common cause with customers. Getting "down", or better, across to where the customer is located -- this is the key. 

Coming down off your superior pedestal and going deep into the valley of human need, human reality, human suffering, human hopes -- this is where the treasure is hidden. 

The big corporations are sluggish and bloated. They can't move as fast as you can. They are "too successful" or "too busy" to worry about connecting and interacting with people on social media. They are used to one-way broadcast messaging, with little to no feedback. 

They still "don't get" social networks. They spend their time and money on stupid Super Bowl commercials and advertising that is hard to track and do ROI analysis on, then they complain about social media ROI. 

They are clowns and fools. Their world is dying fast. 

One-way messaging to a dumb and passive consumer, with no input from them, is a dead platform. People are paying more attention to user forums and review sites than they are to old fashioned ad campaigns and press release PR. 

Fight the giants on your home turf. Defeat them in social media. Use blogs and YouTube videos to launch your assault. 

Remember, these golf-playing, conference-speaking, hush money/golden parachuted CEOs are "too busy" to engage in social networks.

They "don't have time" to participate. They can't think of anything to post as content. They're not used to engaging the public in conversations. They delegate that to interns and marketing companies. 

Social media interactions! 

This is their hideous vulnerability. This is where they are bleeding. This is where they display a humiliating cluelessness. This will be their graveyard. 

Cooking shows that are instructional, with an "expert" or chef on a high and exalted stage, talking down to an audience, and graciously imparting their superior knowledge -- these shows are in decline. 

The most popular cooking shows now are the reality-based competitions, where non-celebrities vie for a coveted crown, people just like you, only more achievement-oriented and goal-driven. 

We are seeing "elites" fall from their undeserved heights of fame and glory. Hierarchies are crumbling. 

It's the rise of the downtrodden. The Age of the Level Playing Field. Athletes are losing their gleam and glamour. Actors are going ballistic on Twitter. Musicians are booed for ignorant partisan statements. Things are not well in Higher Than Thou Land.

What does this mean for your business? 

Is it time to get off the elevated stage, or emerge from the manager cave, and start talking to people, caring about their needs, and improving customer service? 

Is it time to focus less on how great your company is, and "get dirty" (as the crooks say on Wall Street), by listening and paying more attention to customers? Is it time to say less about your own expertise and legacy, and say more about the problems for which your customers are seeking solutions? 

They won't care what you know unless they know that you care. 

I hear a lot of whining about how Walmart destroys local, family-owned businesses. 

I have no strong feelings for or against Walmart, but I will say this. If you have a big box store in your area, you need to stop complaining about their unfair advantages, and start hitting them in their weak spots. 

How can a little mom and pop store compete against the large chains?

Service. Expertise. Customer relations. Innovative marketing. Going the extra mile. Providing customization and personalization. Positioning yourself not as a deep discounter of generic garbage made in China, but as a seasoned purveyor of durable, reliable solutions made in the USA. 

Become the Top of Mind Choice, by sharing your insights and tips on social media, your blog, YouTube tutorial videos, GooglePlus, Twitter -- wherever your customers hang out. 

The "we have products, how much can we sell you today?" mentality must wither and die, to be replaced with the "you have problems, and we understand them and know how to fix them" attitude. 

As I repeat endlessly, people prefer to do business with companies they know, like and trust. 

Use warm, human social media interactions (not just sales hype posting) to become the business that is well known, dearly liked, and greatly trusted. Share your expertise. Offer good advice. Link to helpful resources. Produce interesting videos. Show that you understand and care about customer needs. 

Sales will increase. I guarantee it.

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