Constant stimulation from our own exposure to social media have us, as consumers, believing there is no other way for marketers to reach us.
Congratulations by the way. If you’re still reading this you have a better online attention span than the average person, which a recent study by Microsoft reveals is 8 seconds. If you’re still reading now, you may actually be a goldfish, which has a slightly better attention span at 9 seconds.
I recently had the fortune of briefly meeting Dan Gregory from The Impossible Institute and hearing him speak to a packed audience at The Savanah Room at Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo. Dan had a very entertaining presentation but his message to small business was clear: “Think different.”
Dan’s message is so simple it’s often missed. That’s why it is his job to teach entrepreneurs, business owners and marketers how to think.
Seth Godin is an entrepreneur, 18 times bestselling author and blogger. Seth often writes and speaks about marketing and his book, Purple Cow, is no exception. In Purple Cow, Seth’s key message is to transform your business by being remarkable. His purple cow is a metaphor for taking a risk and doing something truly unique. It’s not every day you see a purple cow!
I know this is going to offend some sensibility deep inside you. I know I am going to get some fiery comments from social media gurus, who are doing their best to keep the buzz and overhype going. After all, they need to get paid ridiculously high sums to help your small business use these ‘free’ social media marketing platforms.
Effective social media marketing is not free. Free social media marketing is not always effective. There I said it!
In today’s world, marketers are in the attention seeking game. If you were the only person publishing on social media, your message would get people’s attention. Most of these platforms are free to get started, so it’s not just you that’s publishing it’s every one of your competitors. Not just locally but globally.
We have forgotten the old advertising problem of clutter. More noise in a noisy world. More posts, more content and making more noise only compound the problem for consumers. Everybody wants their 15 minutes of fame but few will take the time to form deeper connections.
I remember one month, as a sales person, I was finding it particularly difficult to achieve the level of sales I needed. I must have made 20 cold calls in previous days to try and get some new clients. After some careful thought, I invited 3 of my existing clients to dinner one night. Coincidently, another one of my clients was enjoying dinner at the same venue. We had a great night and the very next day I received 2 calls from clients I took to dinner and 1 call from the client who was already out. As a result, I earned my entire monthly sales budget in 2 days.
You need to stand ahead of your competitors; not conform with them.
If you follow sheep, you’re just another sheep. If you follow other businesses, you’re just another business. So in marketing and indeed business, the fastest way to become irrelevant is to just blend in with other businesses. Play it ‘safe’, follow your competitors and you will quickly be forgotten.
If you really want to make an impact on your customers or clients, follow the advice of Richard Koch, who wrote the million copy seller The 80/20 Principle. In his book, The 80/20 Manager, he suggests you make counter intuitive decisions. He says, “Make decisions on the basis that relatively small expenditure of energy (or people, or money, or time) yields disproportionately impressive benefits.” .
I’m not against social media marketing (as you might think). In fact, I use social media marketing tools for my own purposes. Social media platforms can be very powerful weapons to have in your marketing arsenal but they should not be the only ones. What can you do to stand out from your competition today? Take your most valued clients to dinner, invite someone for coffee, dress up in a chicken suit, do some paid advertising or sponsor a relevant event. Do something your competitors are not. That’s how you lead.
- Kock, R., The 80/20 Manager. Ten ways to become a great leader. Piatkus, London, 2013, p112.