As a marketing student, I spent a lot of time studying the relationship between the various elements of a marketing strategy. Both in the classroom and in the real world I saw evidence that each one of the “Four P’s” – product, place, price and promotion– worked best when connected directly to a well-defined target customer and the other four elements.
But marketing is changing. Today there is a 5th element in the marketing mix: Participation or Social Media. While some people would suggest that social media is simply an extension of your promotion or communication strategy, I think it is much more than that. A comprehensive social media strategy involves:
- Messaging – What are you going to say? What types of topics will you include and what topics are definitely off-brand? What will you tone be? At Roundpeg, we have made a decision that “life at the ‘peg” is a central part of our messaging. Updates on the adventures of our cats, or a look over the shoulder of one of our designers helps prospects get to know us. Is this informal, personal tone right for everyone? Maybe not. But as social media gains momentum, more and more customers are looking for that personal touch.
- Placement – Where will you say it? Do you really need a presence on all social networks? It is not just about where your target customer hangs out. It is also important to consider if you can share anything of value in that community. Contractors such as plumbers, electricians and roofers may think that because their target customer (women 40 – 60) spends lots of time on Pinterest, they need to be there as well. But do they? Probably not, because pictures of your products and services are just not that pretty.
- Resource Allocation – Who will manage and execute the program? How much time and budget are you willing to commit to the process? Social media takes time. And your time has a value. As the field of social media has matured, there are many ways to buy services to supplement your staff just as you would buy accounting or IT. Don’t just assume the part-time college kid you hired is going to be able to run your program. Social media is a serious part of your strategy.
- Customer Service – How will you handle complaints, suggestions and interaction in general? The more active you are, the more likely it will be that customers will reach out through social media. Be sure you are ready with plans to check networks regularly and respond in a timely manner.
- Conversion – What is the path from social network to sales transaction? Ultimately the goal of social media is not to be good at social media, but to be good at business. Effective social media will drive traffic to your website. You need to have something worth visiting.
- Integration – Perhaps the most important and often overlooked element of any marketing strategy. How will your social campaigns connect to your other marketing activities? Links to Facebook or Twitter should be on your website and in your email signature. If you are active on Twitter, consider adding your handle to your business card. Use event calendars on LinkedIn and Facebook to promote events like seminars and open houses.
The bottom line? Social media has expanded the reach of marketing programs, but the basics haven’t changed. Good marketing is still driven by a clear picture of your target customer and a well-defined plan which now must include all five “P’s.”
Need help? Contact Roundpeg, an Indianapolis marketing company.