Focus on market pain, not vanity metrics
I have over 16,000 Twitter followers and that means absolutely nothing.
Many companies have pursued a partnership with me because they want to tap into the Canadian market and they felt that my large audience suggested that I could help them do that. This is not the case.
The number of subscribers is not a key performance indicator. This gives you no reason to think that this person can help you make even one sale, let alone many.
One of my biggest challenges as a consultant is to bust these kinds of myths. Why do they still persist for years since social media came into the picture? It’s both fascinating and frustrating.
Fascinating because I learn knowledge gaps that I can fill as a coach, consultant, strategist and content creator.
Frustrating, because I think about how people waste money and misjudge growth potential by basing things on myths instead of how social media can actually support the business.
The closest explanation for this myth is the belief that with just one social media post, a business can open and close sales – yet another myth that I continue to fight. Not even a sale works like that, let alone a lot.
So I started using the following metaphor to keep people from focusing on follower count. And that metaphor involves baked goods. Who doesn’t want to think about baked goods?
Think of social media as part of a complicated recipe.
In some recipes, this or that ingredient comes first and its presence is essential to move on to the next step (otherwise the cake will not rise, for example). In some other recipes, this ingredient doesn’t go all the way to the end, and it’s more of a finishing touch than an integral part of the chemistry.
Social media posting is only part of a marketing recipe (also known as the marketing mix).
Before you can create a viable partnership to sell on social media, you need to get a ton of information, including:
- What community are you trying to engage and why?
- Are you targeting the right people in this community?
- Are you targeting the right people with the content they actually want?
- How do you even know what content they want – have you done your research?
- Have you established where in the sales cycle your social media efforts would perform best: brand awareness? Consideration?
The answers to these and other questions determine who you should partner with, not who has the most followers.
Someone who has very few social media followers can be extremely influential in their community. So don’t discount people because they don’t seem popular or famous.
It actually goes even further than that. Do people even want your product? And how do you know? You can’t really create a viable marketing plan until you know it, and you can’t do that unless you actively listen to what your community really wants.
This is called product-market fit and is the key to determining how to market your product successfully. It’s to a startup what a stethoscope is to a doctor.
You need to research your market before, during, and after creating your market, because that’s when you’re going to figure out how to market it. Stay where they are. Listen to what they have to say.
You need to iterate your product several times throughout its development. You need to do the same with your marketing. It should never be an afterthought.
The development of the product itself is not only what makes it possible to multiply the sales. It also governs the direction of marketing. By listening to your customers’ problems and needs as you build, you also learn what motivates your customers. And that is what should govern your marketing direction.
It’s not about you and the promotional post you want someone to tweet about. It’s about tapping into what people really want from the start.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the intersection of user experience, product development, sales and marketing and I think people would make much better marketing investments if they learned the fundamentals of this relationship complex.
Also, if I’m being honest, it would be nice to have less unrealistic demands, but that’s another article.
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