Let’s face it. You can be everywhere in social media, have tens of thousands of fans, followers and subscribers, and an off-the-charts Klout score, but if you’re in this to make money, you need your product or service top of mind and within reach at the precise point at which your potential customer or client has a need that your product or service can fulfill.
That “time of need” opportunity is one that seems to go overlooked in the social media mix. And, it’s something that I got to thinking about as I cruised along the lake a few weeks ago during a family vacation.
Let me explain…
While out for a day excursion on the boat, we found ourselves needing oil for the boat engine. Being on one of the largest lakes in the country, there was no shortage of gas and service stations. We stopped into a few only to find out they didn’t carry the product, so we gave up and didn’t bother stopping at any others on the lake and decided we’d drive into town the following day. But, several hours later, while still on the lake, we passed by a station whose sign outside read something other than “GAS” or “SNACKS!” it read, “We have OIL.” (In hindsight, I wish I’d have taken a picture.)
The genius of this sign was that at some point, a smart owner of this station realized that finding oil on this lake was not entirely easy, yet, there were likely hundreds of potential customers. So, they made it very easy for them. And, their competitors on the lake, who might have had the product, could have been missing out on the sale.
Be where your customers are. Meet their need.
Too often, companies are hanging out one sign, one message, big and bold. While that might be helping to drive traffic, brand awareness, and even sales of their most popular product, they are overlooking the most critical component of all…the customers’ (or potential customers’) needs. Rather than exclaiming, “Here we are! Come buy our stuff!” they should be meeting their customers where and when they need them most.
In social media, that’s actually not that difficult to do, but few companies take the time to do it.
Here are some things to consider:
1) Conduct a social media audit that goes beyond what people might be saying about your company name and identifies…
- Social channels and communities in which your prospective customers (and their influencers) are active;
- Any challenges and needs your customers experience that you haven’t already considered; (For instance, I’m a boater, and while I often need snacks or gas when driving around, I also really need oil.)
- Areas in which your competitors are doing exceptionally well or poorly, and how their customers interact and feel about their products and services as compared to yours.
2) Develop processes for monitoring online conversations. Again, don’t just listen for mentions of your brand or product, but phrases that start or include “looking for XYZ” or “really need ABC” to develop a greater understanding of how you can position your product to meet their needs.
Be where your customers are in their time of need and provide a solution. It’s a sales strategy that works just as well online as offline.