Well-branded businesses have great stories. Take Mr. Kipling’s Exceedingly Good Cakes, for example. Old Mr. Kipling’s cakes are lovingly crafted one by one just the way your grandmother’s were. When you break one open it takes you straight back to Sundays on the farm when you were a young boy. They bring you back to a simpler time. A time before email or flooded basements of stinky nappies. Mr. Kipling brings peace to the hurried mind.
As you may have guessed, there is no Mr. Kipling. That doesn’t stop his made-up wife, Mrs. Kipling, from managing a compelling Facebook page with over a hundred and fifty thousand followers. People ask her questions and share their recipes. They’re clamouring to be part of the Kipling story. It’s a community they feel they belong to.
Your business also has a story to share and it’s that story that makes your business worth watching in the virtual world. It’s what gets you those coveted followers, fans and connections. It’s what keeps people coming back to see what your business is up to.
Many businesses have a stagnant website they had someone build sometime ago, that may or may not have regular updates. Sites that are purely informational do get a small stream of clients looking for background or contact details but they don’t get much repeat business. And they almost never make it into any personal emails or linked back to in any interesting articles.
Your clients need inspiration. They live to be injected with that passion and it’s your job to provide it for them. They want you to tell them a story, preferably one they can share with their friends at a dinner party. It’s that story that will take you from never-heard-’o-them-before to this-is-a-community-where-I-belong.
‘Why would anyone be interested in my “community?” I sell air conditioners.’ Exactly. Why? That’s the million dollar question and should be your starting point for everything you do with regard to social networking.
There is an enormous amount of work that needs to be done before you can get that plane off the ground. Intensive strategizing is necessary to taxi it to the start of the runway. At both The Sponge and ThinkSocial, we start by workshopping with the key people in your business and understanding your brand story. If you don’t have one, we’ll develop that too.
Developing a timeline is crucial to your delivery plan. Many clients come into our offices saying, “I need to do marketing now because I need to generate sales.” Woah, there. Slow down. You have to sell with the seasons. Your clients and customers need to be warmed up before a typical buying time. Otherwise, it’s all for nothing.
You won’t sell anyone on a Hot Yoga studio in the middle of January or February (although with Sydney weather lately who knows!). On the other hand, it’s a great time to start developing a campaign for the winter. Developing and delivering on a promotion can take an enormous amount of time. If you are in the air conditioning business, you were probably developing a marketing strategy months ago and rolling it out now as the weather gets hot.
Traditional campaigning for air conditioners is a bad use of energy and resources in the autumn. You story has far less draw. No one is listening and even if they are, they’re not interested. But you might get a jump start on the following spring. With a long lead time you can come up with something that’s really compelling. A truly engaging story that people can follow.
That gives you time to properly define the selling process and determine your desired outcome. How many leads do you need to generate? What kind of engagement do you need to reach those goals? Along with your time frame you establish specific trackability for each channel to make sure you are able to measure those leads. This is very important. It can not be stressed enough.
In the future, you can evolve your strategy and story based on what is and is not working. Which efforts are leading to conversion? Which are getting lots of attention but not generating any sales? How can you modify so they do? How can you capitalise on your chief brand ambassadors in some other way?
Mr.Kipling’s has got it figured out. Have you?