7 Business Development Marketing Tips For Social Media

You would have heard so many marketing experts telling everyone to use social media as part of their promotional marketing mix. The Internet is flooded with information on using Facebook, Twitter and other social sites. Numerous articles have been written on how using social media can help promote your brand image and how it can generate web traffic for your main business website.

Keep in mind that that social networking is a marketing tool and it is only effective when used properly to promote your business.

The key question for a business is “How is social media harnessed to generate real revenue and customers?” In today’s digitally connected society your customers regardless of their age, gender or economic status will be active on social networking sites.

Here are some of the latest usage statistics on social media use that will make a business take notice:

  • 68% of small businesses will increase their social networking marketing efforts in the next year
  • 56% of Twitter users say they use the micro blogging site for business or work related purposes
  • Over 40% of people have become ‘friends’ with or ‘like’ a brand/company on Facebook or MySpace
  • 20% of tweets are about business products
  • 46% of Facebook users say they would talk about or recommend a product on Facebook
  • 44% of Twitter users have recommended a product
  • Social media played a major role in holiday shopping – 28% of shoppers say social media has influenced their purchases

On the Facebook site alone:

  • More than 400 million active users
  • 50% of active users log on to Facebook in any given day
  • Average user has 130 friends
  • People spend over 500 billion minutes per month on Facebook
  • There are over 160 million pages, groups and events that people interact with
  • Average user is connected to 60 pages, groups and events
  • Average user creates 70 pieces of content each month
  • Males and females almost equally use social sites (47% vs. 53%)
  • 61% of Facebook users are middle aged or older, with the average age being 37
  • 18- to 24-year-olds don’t dominate any particular social networking site; they’re spread out all over
  • More than 25 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc.) shared each month

The participation of your business in social networking should be self-evident, however, many businesses will go on to set-up social media sites and make no effort to participate and engage in the groups that their potential customers use.

To be successful in using social networking your business must find out where your potential customers spend time on these sites so that you can engage with them where they prefer and not where you prefer or are comfortable with. Participation and engagement with their social networks will form a platform from which to build relationships with communities of interest. This in turn will provide a new customer acquisition channel using the share and like capabilities of the social networking world. This “sharing” is the equivalent of word of mouth in traditional marketing.

Here are the 7 Business Development Marketing Tips for using Social Media:

1. Go where your customers are and not where you are comfortable

To find your customers on social networking sites consider the following:

  • Conduct a survey among your customers or potential customers.
  • Analyse and monitor traffic on social sites to discover how and where customers are sharing information about your business and your competitors.
  • Review marketing research or statistical information on the usage and demographics of the different social media sites.

2. Engage and interact

Social-media engagement is a conversation and your participation in the social network groups and communities is core to building relationships. Your value as a participant is judged by the value that you provide to the community as a whole. You can achieve this by freely sharing relevant, interesting and useful information

3. Research your competitors’ activities

You need to gather competitive information that can help your efforts. Conduct a competitive analysis of your top five competitors’ use of social media for the following:

  • The social networking sites that they actively participate
  • The type of content they publish
  • The number and type of followers, fans and views
  • The products, programs or events promoted

4. Release offers and programs that are exclusive to your social networking channels

You must give importance to your social media with exclusive offers for these promotional channels. This will entice potential customers to share with their networks the offer that is not available from other marketing channels.

As an example, provide offer an exclusive offer for your social media channel, such as discount coupon or voucher.

5. Social media participation requires authenticity and transparency

The words “authenticity” and “transparency” are a bit overused today, however, these are cornerstones to be successful with social networking. Be a real human being in your interactions. This is the foundation to build trust and connections with real people on social media groups and networks.

6. Look for value opportunities in selling through social networking

Take the opportunity to leverage social media in selling your products and/or services by offering relevant items that are of value to your followers. Make it easy for them to make the purchase from these social media channels.

7. Always test and refine based on results generated

Social media programs as a marketing channel are not exempt from testing and refining your messages and offers. You must make the effort to test, gather results and analyse how it can be improved before launching the program to the entire channel.

Apply these 7 Marketing Tips for using Social Media to give you the foundation for success building and growing your business using these communication channels.

Business Development or Sales?

I have been working with a number of companies recently who have been having issues with the performance of their business development team – intentionally I did not call them their sales teams because therein lies the fundamental issue. Everyone is in sales to a greater or lesser extent, in the main most people don’t believe that and shy away as much as possible from anything vaguely sales related.

Specifically anyone that communicates with anyone else with the intention of influencing the other to do something for them is in sales.

A child that wants an ice cream, a Nintendo or simply to stay up late is in sales. A wife that wants to go out with the girls and needs to get either the husband to sit for the kids or employ a babysitter is in sales. A member of the IT department that needs access to all pc’s in your department while you are all at work to do an upgrade is in sales. Any politician is in sales (whether you like it or not).

So if sales is simply the art of influencing another person to do your bidding why then are we so petrified of it, why is it such a swear word? Simply because we are all afraid of rejection to the point that putting ourselves in a situation where rejection may occur makes us avoid it as much as possible. A classic example is telesales which has such a brutal reputation; this is only because you have to deal with 45 rejections before you get an opportunity, maybe more.

How much did it hurt as a child when you are told no to doing something – just a little – however the histrionics that happen far outweigh the severity of the situation. Wouldn’t it be great to have a ‘Hissy Fit’ every time someone declined an offer you made -(some of us do inside our heads), it might shorten your career in that role if you did.

Sales also has that obvious association with dodgy – the wide eyed used car salesman, the timeshare rep or the double glazing salesman. I remember when my late mother-in-law told a friend of ours when she started dating a salesman ‘you can never trust a salesman, it will never last’ – she said. I’m happy to report they got married fifteen years ago and are still getting along just fine.

There are those who are naturally more capable of taking knock backs than others, those with ‘thick skin’ they don’t appear to take it personally when someone turns them down. The message to you is simple – sales is the art of communication, without communication everything grinds to a halt – be that sharing knowledge or information or simply asking for a date to go to the cinema, wherever there is an alternative solution to the one you suggested you have to convince the other in some way – that is sales. Sales is all about asking, if you never ask you will never get an answer!

Going back to the questions raised with these companies I have been working with all responsibility for business development was abdicated and passed onto the sales team to succeed or fail on their own. The other departments did not share the business development needs of the business and this was where the issue lay. What might you say is the solution here – a change in culture is necessary to one where everyone works together at business development, helping and supporting each other.

Some of you might call that Utopia or even unachievable – I disagree the best companies large or small do this day in and day out without even thinking about it – so can you.

The Worth of Business Development Service For Professional Firms

Business development service is always used in a broader sense & enables the professional firms to strengthen ties with their existing customers as well as attracting new customers in other areas of the business market. In order to achieve this objective, the business development service providers go beyond the traditional means of marketing, sales, operations, customer care & business management to help their clients promote the business expansion at multiple levels. It needs the business development strategy maker to have certain level of expertise in different areas of business so that he could easily recognize & utilize the opportunities for business growth.

One of the basic requirements for business development is to evaluate the current business value as it is more related to the growth & maintenance of the business. For this, the development service providers appoint business development specialist who will work along with marketing & sales professionals to develop an effective strategy. This business strategy is based on the degree of popularity that the business is already enjoying in other areas of the customer base.

The business organizing specialist will sought for customer feedback from the customer care executives. These executives will help the strategy maker to gather data from the existing customers on their view about the company & its services. Such type of action often helps the development specialist to find out more effective ways of business promotion that can replace the current marketing strategy & target more number of customers in the market sector where the business is already present. Moreover, the acquisition of client testimonials through the channel of customer care executives will assist the business organizing specialist to identify the areas for the new range of products & develop a suitable marketing strategy for them. This strategy will lead to the quick promotion of new products & services later.

The role of business development service provider is not limited to an increased sales or customer satisfaction. While these things come naturally with the development service, the development strategy maker will have to ensure the best utilization of company fund, refine the operation of management & different departments and address any legal issue that may arise as the business continues to grow. Many professional firms give the business development strategy maker the right to collect business related information from any level of business structure & utilize it to induce more business.

Every small to large scale business organization can opt for development in business service. It brings guaranteed success for every kind of corporate condition. Many small time companies have tried it out & achieved a firm footage in their own sector. In most of the cases, businesses have been able to capture the targeted sector & achieve growth due to the efforts of business development specialist. So, companies need to concentrate more on their development & hire for development professionals if it seems impossible for them.

Corporate maintains their own wing for business growth & development that will deal with all development related activities. But small businesses can’t afford to do that. So, they may ask a development consultant to work for them. The consultant will help them assess the present situations & develop strategies for bringing more business growth in future.

Client Co-Marketing – Business Development for Law Firms

Client co-marketing builds relationships and sends an unmistakable message. Imagine you’re Senior Intellectual Property Counsel of a Fortune 100 company. Every law firm within two continents of your main office has begun posting commentary, sending communiques, and publishing articles about the latest milestone ruling – as of this writing, that would be KSR v. Teleflex. There’s an article in a national journal by someone at the Smith firm. Someone at the Jones firm has a piece in the local legal newspaper. Another publication, however, has an article co-written by the general counsel of a major manufacturer and a partner at the Thomas firm about the possible effects of KSR on business and legal management.

There’s a very good chance that the general counsel’s article will be the first that you as an in-house lawyer will read. There’s an equally good chance that you’ll assume the Thomas firm represents that company. And, there’s an awfully good chance that you’ll also assume the GC thinks the world of the Thomas firm to let his good name run on the same byline.

Seem obvious? Then why don’t we see more such co-written articles? Are clients resistant? One shouldn’t think so inasmuch as it’s simply good marketing for them as well. And, if you offer to do the first draft of the article, the added advantage for the client is that it’s good marketing with relatively little effort.

Here’s another example that approximates a recent situation I observed. A law firm partner was being profiled in a legal trade publication. Among her major achievements is a stellar litigation record on behalf of the XYZ Company. During and after the interview, the partner (and her PR firm) urged the reporter to call the AGC at XYZ, not just for a quotable endorsement, but to learn more about the astonishing things the client has done in-house to deter lawsuits and reduce in-house costs. When the article was finally published, it was as much about the client as the law firm, and both profited equally.

Greatness by Association

To be sure, marketing the law firm is not an “us or them” proposition. You can recruit inside counsel and even CEOs as parties to your own marketing and business development efforts. They will typically appreciate the request because they want to be marketed too.

Perhaps the in-house lawyer is looking for another job and a little notoriety won’t hurt. Or perhaps more public prominence is politically beneficial in terms of his or her internal career track. Maybe the client wants to highlight the fact that, as in our example above, his is the last company in its industry that a smart plaintiff’s lawyer should want to target.

Periodically, certain in-house legal managers emerge as spokespersons for the in-house sector. In the past, such spokespersons (my own memory stretches back as far as Robert Banks at Xerox in the 1980s) give speeches, write articles, and spearhead programmatic efforts to enunciate what they as inside counsel expect from outside counsel, and how, in general, in-house services ought to evolve.

Right now there seems to be available space for another such in-house market leader to emerge. Could that leader be one of your clients? Imagine the marketing benefits that would accrue to your firm if you helped him or her fill that space, especially if your “partnership” were widely known via joint conference appearances, for example, or a few of those aforesaid co-bylined articles.

The relationship benefits are obvious. Even more important in some ways, by being an identifiable part of the client’s efforts to define and implement new professional standards, you become a part of the solution to whatever problem is under discussion. You’re now part of a collective campaign – a close-knit community of buyers and sellers – to improve law firm billing practices or discourage frivolous law suits or enhance diversity in the legal profession or in the client’s own industry. The relationship that ensues with the client is very nice. The message you’re sending to untold numbers of other legal service buyers and decision-makers is very, very nice.

A Wealth of Opportunities

Remember all the favors that clients have asked of you: “Take a table” … Donate a silent auction item … Sponsor a hole in a charity golf tournament … Offer a summer associate position to the CFO’s daughter at Cornell Law … Donate to the GC’s law school alumni fund drive.

These requests all more or less help clients’ own marketing with little direct benefit to you, but they’re not shy about asking. So don’t you be shy with them – especially with requests that, as we’ve seen, benefit them at least as much as you.

We’ve mentioned professional events and publishing as two obviously salient examples of how to co-market. But there are other venues that will likewise enhance your relationship as well as send a valuable message about both the company and you to the broader market. Two in particular deserve mention.

Community Service Projects

First, community service projects offer a number of opportunities, particularly welcome to clients if their companies happen to sell stuff to that community. Some community service projects provide a bigger, more national bang for the PR buck: Habitat for Humanity comes to mind. If there are pro bono award events, invite the client to sit at your table.

Diversity

Second, diversity initiatives are near and dear to many legal service buyers. Explore ways for you and your client to jointly contribute to or support nonprofit organizations fostering diversity (the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, for instance). Don’t be deterred if your firm’s own diversity numbers are disappointing. There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging that one reason for your increased involvement is to improve the firm’s diversity recruitment efforts.

The examples above remind us that conjoint marketing with clients is – like all marketing – ultimately based on the delivery of value. As we like to emphasize, the person to whom you are marketing should be better off as a result of your doing so, regardless of whether or not they invest in your services as an immediate result. By co-marketing with clients, this “value proposition” operates in a uniquely multifaceted way.

Value

“Value” is delivered to the marketplace via the content of a speech or article – here’s an issue bedeviling our industry, and here’s how a corporate expert and outside counsel size it up.

“Value” is simultaneously delivered to the community and the profession as a result of specific actions, such as pro bono efforts and diversity initiatives.

“Value” is delivered to your clients because they have serious marketing agendas of their own. By joining with you in efforts to be helpful to the profession, to their own industry, and to the community at large, they directly advance those agendas.

For the law firm, the leverage is powerful: You build tangible credibility in front of unseen corporate decision- makers even as you take a single important client relationship to a wholly new and collaborative level. It’s a no-brainer. Call a client today and brainstorm projects.