I don’t know if you’re aware of it, but a new book has recently been published by a co-founder of what is today Google Affiliate Network. Jeff Molander authored “Off the Hook Marketing”, which positions itself as a book on how “to make platforms like Twitter,” Facebook, YouTube, “and blogs to produce sales.” I took the book with me on my Mexico vacation, and it actually made a very good read.
Before I get to the bullet points (outlining those of Jeff’s ideas that have really hit the nail on the head for me), let me say that I disagree with his choice of the book’s title, or rather its sub-title, which is “How to make social media sell for you.” Yes, Jeff does talk a lot about Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and how various brands are already using these to produce sales. However, the principles that he establishes and the key points that he’s making go way beyond social media platforms. In fact, the better sub-title, in my opinion would be “How to successfully sell in a social world”. However niche or local your business may be, online- or offline-oriented, it can be greatly improved by the advice this guy is giving. Here are just a few of his noteworthy ideas:
- Shift the focus from “getting customers to bite on Facebook, Twitter, or a blog” to “earning a sale from them”. “Attracting customers is relatively easy” and “should be taking up less of your time” as opposed to “earning a sale from them.”
- To land that sale you want to focus on “helping customers solve everyday problems.” Always think of things “in terms of a problem and solution.”
- “Selling someone something doesn’t require engagement, conversation, and a relationship.” These three are, rather, “created by selling them something.”
- Beyond everything, focus on “helping customers to get things done.”
- “Be a thought provoker, not just a thought leader.”
- Success comes when you’re (a) not losing track of the end goal, and (b) when you have a good guide.
- When discerning your customers’ need, keep in mind that “the way they express [it] may be explicit or implicit, urgent or latent.”
- Per Facebook’s Paul Adams “behavior is at the center of successful social strategy.”
- A good “approach to social media application looks like this: Business problem → business strategy to solve the problem → incorporate social media into said business strategy.”
- It is “by focusing on behavior” that “a business is much more likely to create something that people” will “value and use.”
- Brand is behavior! Yes, “your brand is the tangible benefits actually delivered to customers: their total experience online and offline.”
- “The truth is Twitter, Facebook, telephones, email – none of these are the secret sauce.” It is “giving customers what they’ve (rather secretly) been wanting: a better way to shop.” So, don’t try to “predict which technologies will be dominant” but focus on understanding “how these technologies will support human behavior” and how new tools and technologies can “help people do things they are struggling” with.
- The “secret sauce” is never in the tool or “application itself,” but rather “in the design of the tools: their functional purpose and ability to provide a highly useful experience within a realm that makes sense.”
- The two key words to keep in mind are: “relevant” and “useful”. Strive to be both – at all times!
- “The answer to selling more with social tools is rooted in starting conversations that are worth having, conversing in ways that align the needs of buyer and seller, and designing conversations with customers in ways that generate inquiries and sales.”
- Today’s “best social sellers are” actually great “translators of customers’ evolving needs.” So, look “for clues, listing to customers, and learning about their shopping context” to be truly relevant and helpful. If you’re following trends, re-think your approach; and start following customers instead (for example, by targeting consumers’ dislikes).
- Every ‘next big thing’ (from electricity and automobiles to Zappos and Apple’s iPod, iPhones and iPads) has had something to do with uncovering and satisfying “preexisting, unmet demand.” Gunnar Branson calls it “latent demand” or one “that customers cannot express that competitors do not – or cannot – see.”
- Be a “behavioral architect”, and while “creating awareness, interest, desire, and action,” remember to focus on the “action” part.
- One of the main characteristics of social Web is the interactivity it empowers us with. Forget about “broadcasting messages at customers” (whether contests or coupons/promos), and focus on “designing interactions with them,” creating “meaningful exchanges, ‘give-and-takes’ that connect with sales.” “Monitor for signals emanating from” your (or your competitors’) customers, and “spring into action” when you hear one. Some companies are landing six-figure sales by using Twitter this way.
- Do not be “marketing for marketing’s sake and measuring for measurement’s sake,” but attach “specific goals” to what you’re now “able to observe”. Don’t just focus on ‘likes’, clicks, followers or ReTweets, but make meaningful (and hence useful) observations. It’s that sale or lead that you’re ultimately after (or you better be), aren’t you?
- The core idea is simple: “Tell the truth, and tell it with relevance, immediacy, and meaning.”
- So observe, and then prompt behavior for “more outcomes, more reliably and more often”. Monitor, translate, design, and all of it with the goal (sale or lead) always in focus.
Whether you are B2C or B2B, merchant or independent marketer, e-tailer or affiliate, I believe you will benefit from reading this book. It’s abundant (I mean, abundant) in real-life case studies (of both marketing successes and failures), relevant to what you’re doing (again, regardless of your context), and, most importantly, practical and readily applicable. Pick up this book, read it, and apply its principles, before your competition does. I’ve already made the former two steps. Off to brush up my action plan to make that third one…