Think Twice Before Dismissing Social Media
Note from Jim: This week I bring you a guest column by Debra Ellis, founder of Wilson and Ellis Consulting, an integrated marketing consulting firm. I love the message and tone of the article Debra wrote for us on social media's impact within the direct and multichannel marketing worlds. Enjoy.
This has been social media's year. Twitter became a press darling with coverage on every major news outlet. Facebook has grown to more than 350 million users worldwide and boasts more than 90,000 apps to keep them engaged. And the average user becomes a fan of two pages each month.
When something is growing that quickly, you have to stop and think about what it means for your business. Odds are, your customers and prospects are participating. But should you join in? And if so, how?
If you spend some time listening to the new gurus of the social media world, you'll hear that direct marketing is dying. Everything from catalogs to email is on its way to becoming obsolete.
If you look at your return, response rates and customer value, the gurus’ declarations seem outlandish. Yes, sales may be down a bit, but that's easily attributable to the economy.
But what if you're missing the best opportunity direct marketing has to improve customer relations? Let's take a brief trip back in time: Can you imagine Aaron Montgomery Ward telling his friends and family that he's planning to start a mail order business? He must have heard the following:
"Nobody will buy things they can't see or touch."
“How will you get to know your customers?"
"Have you lost your mind?"
The first two challenges (and sometimes the third) still plague direct marketers. It's a trust issue. You work diligently with copy, photography, scent technology and database manipulation to improve shoppers’ comfort levels so they'll buy without seeing the product or salesperson. You provide historical and anecdotal information about companies, founders and team members. It's been the best you could do.