Friday, 9 September 2011

Social Networking

Social Media is a new buzzword for our industry.  Everyone wants to be on-board, but few are familiar with “how”; let alone “why”.  I’ve spoken with many jewellers who feel like they’re going to miss-out on something big unless they are involved in “social media.”

I’m starting to use Facebook more, and I now tweet.  I have this blog and have published another one for a mission trip to Haiti.  With such limited experience, I can’t tell you what to do to make your business a success with the use of social media, but I can tell you that if you’ve ever been involved in “direct marketing”, you’re already a step ahead.

When I was in retail, I had a small 10th floor operation in Edmonton.  I spent months gathering old job-bags and receipts to compile a mailing list because I believed it important to prospect from people who have already given you money.  I wrote, photo-copied and stuffed envelopes to get my “GemNotes” newsletter into the hands of friendly faces.  This was “targeted direct mail” using free information to earn loyalty.  When fax-mail became popular, I was on the road with Customgold and used that to distribute “road reflections newsletter.”  Now that email is available, I’ve used email to notify my targeted audience that they can “click-through” to the latest edition of my “Road Reflections Blog”.

The progression from direct mail, to fax-mail to email is all the same thing.  It’s all DIRECT MARKETING.  It’s getting a tailored message to targeted group of people.  The only difference is that we’ve gone from postage stamps to fax machine, to computers for our method of distribution.  Each step makes direct marketing cheaper and easier to do.

Here’s where the rubber meets the chicken --- due to technological advances, direct marketing is becoming easier and cheaper, so everyone can and is doing it.  If everyone can do it cheaply and easily you’ve got more and more competition.  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. are making it possible for little Becky’s “I’ve got a cold (frowny face)” to push your marketing down into the cyber-basement.  It takes no thought and almost no work to post a message on social networking.

How do you stand-out?  Ask Robert Collier.  He wrote the seminal work on direct marketing, “The Robert Collier Letter Book” in the 1930s.  The late Mr. Collier focuses on amazing headlines and convincing copy to spur consumers to spending.

Direct marketing actually takes three primary elements; a good headline, a compelling message and a great inner reality.  If you don’t have good headlines (the ad for the ad,) then nobody will read what you have to say. 

If your message doesn’t compel people to action, then you are wasting your time.  I’m not saying that they have to storm-on down and buy a 2ct diamond because you Tweeted them into it.  I’m saying in the immortal words of David Ogilvy, “the heart and soul of advertising is a BIG PROMISE.”  You’ve got to have a message that either brings people into your store now, or endears them to patronizing you in the future.  They have to be convinced that you have an offer that will not only be good value, but add value to their lives.  In order to draw people in, you need to promise the fulfillment of their need for love, acceptance, prestige, self-fulfillment or any other your targets’ hot-button “needs.”

Oh, and by the way, if you don’t back-up your boasts with a great reality, you’ll only sell them once if at all.  If you believe as P.T. Barnum did that “there’s a sucker born every minute,” you’ll suffer the downside of social networking.  In a recent discussion about the issue with Dick Jewell of Mitchell & Jewell in Red Deer, he pointed out the dark-side of social networking.  If someone has a beef against you, social networking can rapidly accelerate bad publicity.

If you want excel at social networking, study the masters of direct marketing.  Understand that the easiest most automated ways of direct marketing by far have the lowest response rates.  If you really want to make money from social networking, maybe try a hand-written letter in a hand-addressed snail-mail envelope. 

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