Social media is hard to sell to anyone responsible for generating a return on investment. It doesn’t have obvious benefits and the phrase “it’s all about the conversation” makes traditional marketers laugh. When you’ve spent your career squeezing pennies out of tight-fisted customers, the idea of growing your company by chatting online seems ludicrous.
The biggest challenge is that their arguments are right. Social media doesn’t directly drive sales. It doesn’t have guarantees or rules. Finding someone who knows how to do it well is like trying to pick the winning lottery numbers. There are thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, claiming expertise because they know how to set up accounts, tweet, blog, and friend.
Technical skills don’t automatically convert into a winning marketing strategy.
If you want to sell social media to decision makers, you had better bring money instead of conversation to the table. Here are the steps to get you going:
- Start with a plan that includes goals, objectives, strategies, tools, and a method of measurement. Make sure it has some contingencies built into it. Some things won’t go as planned. Show that you are ready for anything.
- Present your plan in corporate language including increased sales, reduced costs, specific goals, and measurable results. If you discuss all of these items, the intangibles become less of an issue.
- Be realistic about the costs, commitment and return. Social media isn’t free or easy. It requires a full scale approach to be successful.
- Ask for a six month test instead of a long-term commitment. It is easier to get approval when there is an end in sight. No one wants to approve the bridge to nowhere.
- Measure everything and document it well. Lessons learned and applied lead to greater return on investment.
- Focus on the benefits. Social media can improve lifetime value, reduce operating costs, and provide competitive advantage. Show them what is being said online about your company and competitors so they understand the opportunities to engage with customers.
- When you get the go-ahead, keep internal communication lines open. If you do your thing without sharing results, your initiative will be the first one cut when it is time for new budgets.
- Use the four E’s to get and keep it going: Enthusiasm, Energy, Efficiency, and Effectiveness.
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Note: For more information on integrating social media into your marketing mix, read “Social Media 4 Direct Marketers“. It’s guaranteed to help your business.