The issues of social media and how to use it is usually ambiguous, often confusing, and sometimes baffling to business owners. The immediate question on everyone’s mind is how do I use it to create revenue. So if your selling your knowledge of social media you are selling to a market that doesn’t understand it and is already programmed to believe it is something it is not.
Professional services is selling knowledge people want or need to make something better. What businesses always want is either how to reduce expenses without hurting service or how to sell more of something they have or don’t yet have but want to develop.
Consultants have to provide not only subject-matter expertise, but also critical thinking coupled with a neutral perspective gained from experience dealing with very similar and also very different situations. The difficulty is selling social media is that the market is tainted with misconceptions and everyone is telling everybody what it is and how to use it. Most of what the market is saying is wrong.
Consultants have to add value through communicating capabilities and enabling relationships but also they have to actually create value through intellect and experience combined with just the right level of creativity. In other words they must approach a prospective client with solutions thinking that appeals to their needs.
What Solution Does Social Media Create?
The right question is what problem does social media solve. You can’t recommend a solution if your client doesn’t perceive it as solving a problem they have and want to fix.
So the first issue is to understand what problem a client has that they want to solve. Clearly identifying and defining the problem is half the battle. If you can’t identify a problem that social media may be able to solve then your chances of getting engaged are slim. Worse, though, is giving the impression that social media can solve all the problems, it can’t.
Social media can’t solve all your problems as a matter of fact using it improperly can create more problems that you never had. Yet everywhere I look many seem to be selling social media as the cure all for everything. Here is a hint. It isn’t!
The Problem With Expected Results
Most of the market is consumed with creating an ROI from social media. Many want social media solutions that drive revenue. The problem with these perspectives is they haven’t identified a problem they want fixed or a solution that want to achieve besides more revenue. ROI comes from lowering cost or improving revenue from investments in new initiatives aimed at solving problems. Social media doesn’t do either without knowledge.
As stated in a previous post social media is a system of communications, period. While communications is part of any solution to solving problems and generating more revenue it is not the whole solution.
Social media is a communications tool that can help you increase awareness, improve brand recognition, reach more people efficiently and pull a market to your value proposition. However, simply doing so doesn’t translate to revenue or solving problems if you don’t think through the process and related issues. Simply jumping into social media and pushing your message is like yelling at your sales force for more revenue. If you haven’t first figured out what your market wants or needs and whether you are capable of delivering it then you are peeing in the wind. How’s that for an analogy?
If you don’t know where your market is and how they are participating in social media how will you “communicate” with them? Worse yet if you are communicating the wrong thing the wrong way how can you expect the market to pay attention to you or your proposition? The analogy for this is throwing money into advertising with no way to know who it reaches and who responds. Sound familiar?
Social media affords you that specific data so you can measure how effectively you are communicating with your market.
So again, what is the ROI on social media? The answer is how well do you communicate with your market (all social media does is deliver it) and what value do you have to offer (that is the job of every business to define, improve and deliver).
Fix your communications and deliver superb value and social media will return a huge ROI. Selling social media is only relevant to improving your market communications, which can improve revenue and saves money if you “know” how. Get it?
What say you?