This past week, I had six calls with prospective clients – all small business owners looking to capitalize on the on the tremendous opportunities of the social sphere. Typically, having this many leads would be extraordinary. But I’ve sometimes found it to be deflating. And here’s why….
Many believe that if they invest xx dollars into something, then they will logically achieve xx more dollars. I often hear, “I figure I will invest in social media for a few months and once I am making money (because of the initial investment), I can invest even more.” I’ve even had people make ridiculous offers such as trying to negotiate that I offer my services free of charge the first few months and they will pay me back once they’ve actualized a return.
This formula is a problem because businesses are putting stock in something – one thing – and they often expect that it will generate a quick to immediate return for them. The hard truth is that social media – by itself – will not generate revenue for you. You heard it from the horse’s mouth, folks. Social media ALONE will not make money for you.
Before we can assume that social media can make money for a business, there are bottom line factors that contribute to bottom-line success including operations, marketing and commitment.
A Strong Operation. Before we can determine if social media is a viable option for a business, we need to look at the business itself. Does their product or service align with current market needs? How do they compare to their competitors? Have they maintained a stable revenue stream? What do the customers say about the business? A business will need to evaluate these foundational factors before assuming social media can help them meet their marketing goals.
Clear Goals. Once we tackle operations, we can tackle tangible marketing goals. Notice that I did not say monetary goals. Before we can consider actualizing financial goals, we need to take a deeper dive to identify specific targets that will lead to this end result…such as increasing website traffic, establishing credibility, increasing visibility, and enhancing the customer experience. These are the goals that help to move the needle - but do not necessarily equate to sales, on their own.
Marketing Synergy. Social media is one piece of the marketing pie; it works to fill the upper part of the sales funnel. The more a business can incorporate foundational marketing elements (such a purposeful company website) and supporting marketing components (such as networking, printed materials or traditional advertising) and synergize these elements with social media, the better chance of reaching people at all stages of the buying process.
Commitment. Social media is a relationship-building tool – and relationships cannot be rushed. For this reason, I urge all businesses to give relationship marketing at least one year before anticipating a steady stream of qualified leads. You’ll also notice that I said ‘leads’ – not sales or money.
My message to future prospects: Social media ALONE will not make money for you. It may help you achieve your marketing goals – and it has the potential to support your bottom-line business goals, but there’s no fast or simple formula for actualizing profits.