I recently sat through a 90 minute presentation on “internet marketing.” As is typical of most of these presentations, it was primarily about how to get your website found by Google via proper use of SEO, keywords, coding, etc. I find it alarming that so many small business people still think the main reason they need to pay attention to social media is to “get found”. It’s not.
If your business is not remarkable, it’s dispensable. You should worry less about getting found and more about providing unique and exceptional value to everyone you and your business comes in contact with – suppliers, employees, and customers.
If you are good to those that supply your business, those that work in your business, and those that use your products and services, they will be good for you. They will say good things about you and your business because you earned it. Delighted suppliers, employees and customers will recommend you to their networks of friends and family and their free word-of-mouth marketing will do for you things your paid advertising cannot.
But if you treat anyone in your value chain like crap, they will say bad things about you and like it or not, you earned it. As customers and employees rapidly become increasingly connected and social, the word about you and your business – good and bad – spreads faster and farther than ever before. This is an incredible opportunity for business owners that grasp this principle and a serious threat to those that don’t.
When I find you and your business, be prepared for me to talk about you. Make sure you understand very clearly the variety of places where opinions about your business could be posted, and be an active participant (contribute value, not spam) in those networks. If you are really smart, you will encourage your delighted employees to be active participants on those networks also. If I say something bad about your business, apologize and address my complaint as quickly as possible. Never make excuses!
If I say something good about your business, do not neglect to thank me. Yesterday, I wrote about a positive experience I had with Red Lion Hotels. Their Director of Brand Services posted a response to my blog less than 6 hours after I published it. They are listening and responding, and I'm impressed. Last night I shared this story with 35 MBA students. I'm sure that over time I will share it with hundreds of students in my classes and business people in my community - Red Lion earned it.
Good social business is about impressive operations, not impressive advertising. Your brand is less what you say it is on your fancy website and more what I say it is to my friends and family after I’ve spent my valuable time and my hard earned money on your products and services. Never forget that.