business, customers, Marketing, Social Media

How Do Buyers Find You?

The Information Highway

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“What is all the fuss about with social media?” the man asked during a workshop.  “I just don’t get it and I certainly wouldn’t pay for it!”

I had to take a deep, calming breath. Not because it was in the middle of my workshop, but because I want people to understand the power of what can be the game changer in their business.

I am an “early adopter” of Social Media, I admit it.  Not everyone jumps on board with new technology, but this technology has been around long enough, and I want, somehow to help this guy see the importance of something that wasn’t clear. I realize that despite its success and charms, social media marketing has not reached its tipping point when it comes to mainstream small and medium size businesses. It is dominated by million follower tweets by Ellen Degeneres and viral videos about grandma’s dancing. How could any intelligent professional think that this form of “marketing” was marketing at all?

But I ask you to take a moment and consider a few things….

Let’s think about your buyer.  That could be an investor, a donor, a volunteer, even a potential employee for your company. What gets them to make decisions to buy?

“Buyers” make decisions based on “information.”  They use to read newspapers and books, or even scroll through the Ye Olde Yellowpages. Today, however, they scroll through newsfeeds on their smartphones, jumping from one article to the next.  They watch (and share) news videos, links from tweets, Facebook posts, and alerts that “ding” all day long.  It is the information age, right?

So what happens when your “buyer” can’t find any information on you? You know, the information on their smartphones?  They never heard of your school, your growing non-profit, or your word-of-mouth investment company…how do you expect people to find your business on the information highway when you are sitting in the parking lot?

Do you have a Brand?

Well, a very brainy MIT professor gave a lecture last year and said that

“When people don’t have information about a product or service then they turn to the Brand to make their decision.”

Makes sense, right? That recognizable Logo and tagline that you have all over your stationary and business cards. But your press release was sent out to the local news and didn’t hit any of the big newsfeeds.  If your buyer can’t find information on your business on their smartphone, why would you think they would know your brand?  Sure, it’s a very cool logo on top of that annual report, but if only your existing customers are on that mailing list, how might new buyers become familiar with that brand?

Brainy MIT professor says that buyers will then go on their experience to make that decision. So let’s look at an example: A buyer is looking to donate some money, and they cannot find your awesome cause. So, they think, “Hey, my folks always gave money to the Bla-Bla-Bla Organization I will do that too.”  Done! Experience kicks in, and you are overlooked because you are invisible.

Same goes for the school up the street.  Why do you think parents choose big chain preschools, even when they suspect that it might not be the right choice for their kid?  Well, for one thing, they do not know you exist, or if they drive by you, how can they trust you without any information about you? It is all about trust says the Brainy MIT professor. Let me repeat that…

“It is all about trust,” says the Brainy MIT professor.

Think about this:   Posts on Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest are not really what you are about,  but they do serve a purpose.  That “social-media imprint” that you are making every day with articles and quotes, pictures and stories, are reaching out and offering information to a world of buyers who want to find the right places to buy, enroll, invest and donate.  But if you are not participating in the process, then you might as well turn off the engine and close the shop because people today are hungry for information. And information equals trust.

In our society today, buyers do not make decisions about where to put their money without a glimpse into the culture and values of the businesses they support.

Information is powering business.

So go ahead, make the decision to get back on the highway, but let me remind you of this—there are semi’s and mini’s and motorcycles moving fast and faster out there!  So despite what my Heckler said at the workshop,  think about hiring someone who can ease you back onto the information highway.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because social media is free that it is easy too. It might just be the best investment yet.

Source: Brainy MIT Professor, Duncan Simester

Maria Bereket is a Social Media Stress Reliever! She loves marketing strategy, and social media, especially LinkedIn; and she helps business owners and professionals feel stress-free when setting up their social media profiles and marketing programs. @mbear88

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