Healthy Beginnings

Social Media, New Word of Mouth

by Bret Simmons |

Traditional advertising still works; it can be even more effective when it incorporates the new tools and rules of marketing. Your customers are bombarded daily by marketing messages from traditional mediums, and they are becoming increasingly good at filtering out the messages that interrupt their time and attention. Why spend more time and money trying to shout louder at your customers. Instead, understand that your customers want the most effective way to make reliable decisions about how to spend their hard-earned money.

Recommendations from friends or trusted others whom we have relationships with is always an effective form of marketing. People might not always believe your advertisements, but they will almost always believe what a friend tells them about you and your business. If your strategy does not rely heavily on word-of-mouth marketing, then you are not reaching all of your potential audience. Social media platforms (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, and blogs) saw an explosive growth in the last few years, and they give you and your business powerful opportunities to add new and more effective relational tactics to your traditional marketing and advertising efforts.

For example, last week I was thumbing through a magazine and saw an advertisement for a product that caught my attention. I wanted to learn more about this product and the company that offered it, but the advertisement only contained a phone number. Although a phone number works for some people, I, along with many others, prefer to research and order products online. I went to the internet and did a Google search on the company, but after five minutes of searching I still had no more information, so I gave up. That business wasted five minutes of my time, and they failed to close on a sale because they were missing something very important to today’s consumers. All businesses in today’s environment need an interactive, engaging website and the address for that website should appear on other forms of advertisements.

The way you operate the website is critical. It can’t be just another digital megaphone to shout at and interrupt customers. Instead, it needs to be a place where you attract customers by offering an engaging experience. Your goal is to take strangers and turn them into friends, and then to convert those new friends into customers.

To do this, your website should have a simple blog. Your blog provides valuable information that can help customers solve problems that matter to them. We do not trust people who are trying to sell us something for the sake of just “selling.” However, we do trust people who we think care about us and want to help us. The blog encourages customers to engage in conversation with you and others, around the valuable information that you offer. Over time, the content and conversation at your website will earn you the reputation as a trusted resource. As that happens, people will spread the word about you to their friends; people you never dreamed of reaching for you will reach out to you, and in much more effective ways.
Social media marketing is here to stay. Now is the time for you to learn how to use these new tools and rules of marketing to help your customers and your business prosper.

Bret L. Simmons, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Management in the College of Business at the University of Nevada, Reno. Learn more about Dr. Simmons by visiting www.bretsimmons.me . Dr. Simmons is a co-organizer of the social media marketing conference for business, SM@RT 2010, to be held in Reno, Nevada December 8-10, 2010.

For more information about the conference visit www.smart.unr.edu