The idea of a magic formula that solves problems is as old as mankind. Even though we know it doesn’t exist, hope remains that someone will discover the combination that resolves all issues with a sip or swipe. This hope has created opportunities for snake oil salesmen hawking everything from tonics to social media. Desperate people seeking help for ills and failing businesses reach for anything that might possibly solve their problems.
The first rule of a good con is to start with the truth because it increases people’s willingness to go to the next step. The snake oil salesmen of yesteryear started with the truth that Chinese water snake oil actually worked at reducing inflammation. The oil was rich in Omega-3 acids which effectively treat arthritis. When word of the oil started to spread in America, people tried to create their own version using rattlesnakes. This is when the problems began.
Chinese water snakes are Omega-3 rich with approximately three times the amount in rattlesnakes. This automatically made the homegrown version less effective. And then, there is that pesky problem of having to actually capture rattlesnakes to create the oil. It was much easier to substitute other oils that were easier to obtain. If the promotion was dramatic enough, who would notice that it didn’t actually do anything?
Social media is the snake oil of marketing today. It started with two truths – word of mouth is the most effective form of advertising and electronic communication simplifies the communication process. In its purest form, people talking with close friends, social media is very effective. Companies that provide service worth telling others have benefited from the new channel. When word spread about a new venue for connecting with customers, those pesky problems started to appear.
Instead of creating experiences that people would want to talk about, marketers tried to generate content that inspired conversation. The homegrown version of word of mouth is like the rattlesnake oil. Even though it is much less effective, social media gurus started declaring the death of traditional marketing. Before long they were dictating the right and wrong way to communicate with customers and prospects. It created an environment where marketers were hesitant to test the new channel in fear that they would antagonize the people speaking the loudest.
Traditional marketing is always dying because evolution is mandatory for success. While some things stopped working, others things that worked hundreds of years ago still work today. People like to be entertained, respected, and appreciated. They don’t like to feel like they have been conned. The one size fits all magic solution leaves a trail of unhappy customers.
There is a magic formula for sales and service but it isn’t easy to find. Every company has to find its unique combination that serves customers, employees, and shareholders. The ones that invest the resources needed to find that formula and alter it when needed over time build a foundation for long term success. Start creating the magic formula for your business by:
- Knowing what your customers want. How do they shop your products and services? What is their preferred communication tool? When are they most likely to respond to offers?
- Delivering on the promise. People are most satisfied when they receive what they expect (presuming the expectations are good.) Manage expectations well and consistently deliver.
- Use data well. Actionable data is available to improve the buying and service experience. Find the data that makes a difference for your customers and use it to keep them happily coming back.
- Find your company’s unique combination. There is a mix of marketing and service that works perfectly for every company. Find the one that fits your corporate culture and build from there.
- Ignore the pundits. Everybody has an opinion. Social platforms make sharing them easy. If your customers are happy and your business is growing, what do they know that you don’t?
- Strive for continuous improvement. Markets change. Test different strategies, channels, and platforms to see what works best for your company. You may find a new source of customers.
Email Debra at email@example.com. for guidance in finding your company’s magic formula.