Time Management Training – Getting Started – A Step by Step Outline for Building Your Social Media Strategy
Time Management Training South Africa
Dipping your toe into the Social Media Arena
Step 1 – Clarify What You Sell
This training program by one og the best time management training experts will show you that before you can begin using social media or any other form media for that matter, as a means for marketing your business, you must be absolutely clear about what you are selling and why people will want what you have to sell them. If you are in the business of selling earth moving equipment for example, you must know exactly what you are selling. I know the answer seems really obvious, when you imagine those huge yellow coloured machines, which you see on mines or construction sites. The questions you must answer, is not defined by the obvious physical features of the product or service you sell, but rather by the benefit or utility, which comes from the product or service you sell.
After attending this presentation by one of the best time management training experts you will see that the person, who buys a front end loader is not buying a machine, they are buying what the machine will give them, namely a hole in the ground. When exploring your product or service, ask yourself a similar question. What need or benefit will my product offer my prospective client? Anyone buying a drilling machine is buying a hole, someone who buys a camera is buying a way of storing memories and a professional speaker or business consultant, is selling, specific organisational solutions, which provide people and businesses with HOPE. (See explanation below)
Andrew is one of the top experts on time management training he will show you that, understanding that when you buy a drilling machine, you are not buying the machine, but rather a product, which will give you what you really want, namely a hole, is easy to understand. More complex products or services, such as professional speaking or business consulting, require more study and understanding. To help you understand these more complex concepts, I will use professional speaking as an example to try to highlight more complex thinking.
I love analogies and the one that I feel best describes the role of a professional speaker, as a person, who provides HOPE, is based on an experiment, which was conducted using rats. In this really brutal and cruel experiment, rats were placed in a dark box filled with water. The rats had no way of climbing out of the water and if they stopped swimming they would drown. On average the rats placed in the dark box, survived for around three hours, before they stopped swimming and drowned. When the researchers made one small pin hole in the box and allowed a single ray of light to shine into the box. The same rat would survive for between 36 and 48 hours. This really brutal and cruel experiment showed that, when even the smallest ray of hope was present, the rat would keep swimming, ever hopeful of the possibility of getting out of the water.
The HOPE I am referring to, which professional speakers or business consultants provide to their clients, is that ray of light that comes from that tiny hole, which is poked into the box, that tiny ray of light, which allows the rat to survive for more than 10 times longer, than was the case, when no light was present. This clarity about the solution or benefit you sell, makes identifying your ideal client and how to differentiate yourself and your products or services (Unique Selling Proposition) a cinch.
The astute professional speaker becomes that ray of light to business professionals, providing specific organisational solutions, which provide people and businesses with HOPE, by expounding on-going expansion and growth, which will promote profit and/or development in human capital.
Step 2 – Identify Your Ideal Client
Identifying who your ideal clients are is the next crucial step in the process of starting your social media marketing and networking campaign. As you know success with any networking or marketing strategy is about utilising your limited resources to leverage the best possible result. The best way to do this is to avoid the “SPRAY AND PRAY” strategy adopted by most businesses, where they create a marketing campaign, spray the message out into the market and hope that someone, who needs what they are selling will get to know, like and trust them enough to buy their product or service.
If the “SPRAY AND PRAY STRATEGY” does not work, what strategy does work?
Success in marketing your business comes from:
- Knowing who your ideal client is.
- Where you can find them
- Using the marketing channels available to you to communicate with them, so that they will get to know, like and trust you enough to buy your product or service.
Step 3 – Identify Markets
The arrival of the large number of social media platforms is not something to fear and resist. It offers any wise entrepreneur a number of new ways to communicate and research his markets. Embracing this new technology and using all the amazing benefits it offers, will allow your business to stand head and shoulders above the competition. The most effective way to leverage all the benefits offered by this new technology is to use a blend of traditional marketing and networking strategies, combined with a targeted social media strategy.
Effective, traditional marketing and networking strategies were always about targeting the right market, identifying the right organisations or people, within those markets and then communicating the right message to them. The objective was and still is to connect with these people, so that they could get to know like and trust you and your product and service. Using traditional methods to market your business, such as print media, radio, television would be pointless, unless you knew who your target client was and how best to reach them. The same basic business principals hold true for any social media marketing strategy.
Using social media as a powerful networking and marketing tool in your business does not mean that basic business practices don’t count any more. Quite the contrary, any business that wants to carry out effective networking or marketing strategies on any of the new social media platforms, must follow some basic principles first. The first and most basic step, is to first get to know who you target market is. This will give you the information you need; so that you can discover where to start searching on the various social media platforms to find your prospects.
Social media has not changed the way we think, or make buying decisions; it has just given us an incredible medium for researching, communicating and connecting with potential clients. We still need to identify which businesses we want to do business with, i.e. prospects that require our products or services and then we need to identify the individuals within those organisations, to connect and build mutually beneficial relationships with.
The business basics have not changed and if you want to enjoy great success with your social media networking and marketing strategy, it is crucial that the basics are in place first. Know who your target market is, what businesses within that market are the most likely to purchase your products and services and then drill down into those businesses and discover the decision makers within each business. Once you know who these people are, you must use the tools I have described below to research and connect with these people.
Action Idea: Set aside an hour each day for the next week. Take your prospect list and research each one of them in turn using Google, LinkedIn, Facebook and twitter and see how much personal information you can discover on each of them. You will astound yourself how much background information you can discover using this methodology.
I was bidding for a 12 month road show with a labour broker and was up against some really stiff competition. My offering was equal to any of the other bidders and as such I had to pull out all the stops to win this one. I researched the individuals that would be making the final decision about who would run the road show, using Google, Facebook and LinkedIn and discovered that the CEO was a keen motor cyclist. I discovered this by looking at his pictures on his Facebook page. There was a picture of him standing next to his motor cycle in Cape Town, after completing a trip from Johannesburg to Cape Town.
I immediately connected with the C.E.O via Facebook and LinkedIn. I commented on the Photos of the ride to Cape Town and sent him some information on similar rides, which were coming up. We started to communicate regarding motor cycles and very quickly connected. I discovered that he did not own his own motorcycle, but that he hired one every time he did a motor cycle tour. I researched various options on motor cycle hire and sent him a few competitive quotes on hiring motor cycles. He was delighted as he was planning another tour and my efforts had saved him a significant amount of money.
I am a keen motorcyclist myself and breaking with my usual tradition, of wearing a suite to any meeting, I went on my motor cycle, dressed in my motorcycle gear. I walked into the meeting, where we spent an hour discussing motor cycles, never mentioned the contract. I walked out of the meeting with the contract. I still do regular business with this company.
Step 4 – Research
Social media can be a really powerful research tool and a wonderful medium to communicate with people, who you want to connect with. It gives a means of discovering a whole lot of non-business related things to assist in building meaningful connection with people. Get anyone to know like and trust you and doing business becomes simple, profitable and sustainable.
Some of the tools, which will help you to research and discover how to connect with the right people on the various social media platforms, are listed below:
- The most obvious place to start is always Google. It is astounding how much information is available via his search platform.
- The searches on Facebook are also really powerful. Facebook is always my second port of call when doing any research.
- Twellow.com is a great tool to find twitter users by means of some carefully selected key words in their bio, category or location. This will allow you to find people that are aligned with the vision of your business.
- LinkedIn is also a great resource. As a free user you can carry out a number of useful searches that will help you to find and connect with the right people. You can upgrade you Linked in account, which will give you access to a number of very useful tools that will help you find the right people to network and connect with.
- Identifying and joining LinkedIn groups is also a great way to identify and connect with the right people.
- Use search.twitter.com to search for conversations that are relevant to your goals. You can then join these conversations. Contribute real value to the conversation and you will appear real and honest. You will become someone that they will want connect with.
Make sure that you have all your social media profiles printed on the back of your business cards. This makes it far easier for people you meet to continue the conversation with you after the event. Ensure that you have an up to date photograph on your business card so that people can easily identify you on the various social media sites.
All these strategies will help you to connect with the right people, regularly communicate with them and ultimately get them to know like and trust you.. This connection will be the catalyst for you to turn your networking and marketing efforts into sustained online networking and meaningful connection
Step 5 – Listen
Listen to the conversations going on, on all the major social media networks. There are conversations going on all over the social media platforms, via Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. When you want to start making your mark in the social media arena, it is best to start out by listening to conversations that are going on about similar companies, products or services to your own or about the market you want to enter. This will give you an understanding of what people are thinking about your company, products and the trends within your target market.
There are a number of different forums and blogs available. Use twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook to search keywords related to your business. Once you have located interesting conversations, which you feel are aligned with your strategy. You should leave your virtual handshake by leaving pertinent comments and offering feedback. This is the best way to enter the conversation and to begin dipping your toe into the social media arena.
Step 6 – Join the Conversation
It is prudent to arrive slowly and to become part of the conversation on the various social media forums. When thinking about building a social media marketing strategy, try to visualise yourself attending a really high powered networking event, filled to the brim with the perfect prospects, who want what you are selling. Would you go blazing into that event with a megaphone, proclaiming how wonderful you are and how amazing your product or service is? If that strategy would not work at any networking event, it will most certainly fail on any social media forum.
Once you are certain that you have found the right forums where your ideal client hangs out and you have dipped your toe into relevant conversations going on those social media platforms, by providing feedback and meaningful comment on people’s posts or blogs. It is time to become a value contributor to the community and for you to start providing valuable content to the various forums.
Step 7 – Deliver Great Content
The secret to make a success out of your social media strategy is to create good content and then to locate all the possible places, where the right targeted individuals, would enjoy what you have to offer. Spend as much time as possible in these forums. Contributing ideas and commenting on as many articles as possible. Over time you will become an integral part of these communities and be regarded as an expert contributor, someone to go to, if you have a need for a specific product or service.
Social media is not instant or an event, it is a process. Becoming successful with any social media strategy is about commitment and patience. Understand that the work only starts after you have posted the blog or comment. You must promote your blog by connecting with the right people on the right forums. This takes effort and commitment. Do not think that succeeding in social media is just posting great content. It is about listening, contributing and becoming an integral part of the conversation.
There is a real time commitment to become successful with your social media strategy. You must be consistent and post relevant and useful content. You are in effect in a leadership role when you have a significant following via your various social media outlets. You are taking on a great responsibility and must meet your commitment to provide quality content and to always operate with the highest level of integrity.
Becoming successful in the social media arena is not about simply stepping into the conversation and then just fading away, every day. It must be an integral part of your marketing and networking daily activity strategy. Social media is about participation and contribution; it is not about taking and offering nothing in return.
When you are contributing to the conversation always be authentic and allow your passion to shine through. Your passion and consistency are two of the key factors required for you to become successful with social media. When you consistently offer authentic and meaningful content, people will soon realize that they can trust you and that your content is of value.
The old school hard selling tactics from the past will most certainly not work in the social media arena. In fact they will probably hurt your business in the long run. Social media is not about pitching for business it is a strategy whereby you listen and contribute value.
When you listen to the conversation that is going on and you understand the needs within your market. You are able to offer pertinent advice and will eventually be viewed as the expert on that subject. People buy from people they know, like trust and add value to their lives. Build trust, become liked and offer great value and social media will become a fantastic marketing tool for your business.
Share your knowledge and skill with the right people in the right target market and you will not only have an audience. But you will also have a tool for building real connection with the right people and an opportunity to build trust with potential customers. Social media is merely an additional tool, which we can use to grow our businesses. It should be used in conjunction with a number of other strategies to market our businesses.
Study social media and assess how it can be used in your business. The time to enter the social media arena is now. Any social media strategy takes time to develop and implement. Do not wait until it is too late to wake up and start using this incredible to marketing and networking tool.
Step 8 – Connect with the Right People
As soon as you are connected with the right people on your social media platforms, it is easy to begin forming mutually beneficial relationships with them, by consistently posting valuable information, which is useful to them, commenting on their posts or blogs, sending them birthday cards, targeted information about their hobbies etc. Your computer guru can help you to pull all the information you need regarding birthdays, hobbies, sporting interests, family etc. to help you to get as much background info on your prospective clients as possible.
The more you can consistently connect with your prospects and add value in a non-business sense, the sooner they will get to know, like and trust you. As you know all buying decisions are made using the emotions, so once you have established real connection with anyone, they will buy from you.
Step 9 – Listening and Encouraging Two-Way Communication with Your Market – Using Social Media
The transformation in the online world has seen numerous new opportunities appear via the new social media platforms, which allow customers and prospective customers in all markets, to communicate with the person behind the product or service. Any smart marketer will use these new platforms to provide relevant communication with their market, directed at the soft triggers within their target audience. This strategy when carried from a perspective of sharing and giving, where the entrepreneur constantly adds real meaning and value to the various forums, will help get the people in your target market to know, like and trust you and your product or service.
Social media has made it possible for prospects and customers to get involved in on-going two-way conversations with a real person. Should they need assistance they can communicate this via the social media platforms or should they need support which cannot be offered using any online option, they can communicate with someone they trust and who can assist them, either by phone or email. This two way open communication via public social media forums has put immense power in the hands of the customer. They can endorse your product or service and assist your marketing efforts or they can express concerns about the quality of your product and service and damage your credibility in the market.
If you listening in on the various social media platforms and there is a real concern about your product or service, you can quickly respond. This quick response, when done properly, can turn what may have been a damaging situation into an opportunity for you to show how good your company really is. A quick response, in which you show your companies willingness to sort out any customer concerns, can become one of the most powerful marketing tools possible. Other potential customers in your target market will quickly get to know, like and trust you.
The other great opportunity to exploit, is when one of your competitors, has a challenge and it is spoken about on any social media platform. If your competitor is not listening in and they miss the opportunity to sort out the issue, it gives you the chance to step in and to shine. You can comment on the various posts and provide solutions and answers, which will help promote your products and services. If you want to survive and thrive in this new technological world, it is crucial to have your ears and eyes in all the relevant places where your customers and prospects hang out. There are really powerful tools available, which allow you to do key word searches, which will help you to discover anyone speaking about you or your competitors.
I was having a challenge getting the local satellite TV Company to address a challenge I was having with their service. On calling through to their help desk, I was told by their representative, that they could not help me at that time, as their computer system was down. I asked if I they could call me back once the fault was corrected, his response was less than satisfactory, he stated that it was a call in help desk, not a call back service. I immediately posted a comment on Twitter about the lack of service, stating the companies name and how unhappy I was. The conversation really got going and within minutes, there were a number of people participating in the conversation.
Someone at the satellite company was listening in and within a few minutes was participating in the conversation. They were very slick and quickly resolved my issue and many of the other customer concerns, who joined the conversation. They did a great job of fixing what could have really damaged their reputation, by listening in and then sorting out the mistake made by a disgruntled employee. This fast response by the satellite TV Company, gave me and everyone else, who had joined the conversation a new found respect for them. They turned a potentially damaging situation into a great customer relations exercise.
Step 10 – Turning Social Media into a Business Tool
The real art of using social media to market your business is not about starting a Facebook page, writing a daily blog or tweeting throughout the day. It is about emotion, listening and communicating to a select few people in the right place, who want what you have to offer for sale. Building massive lists of people, who do not need or want what you offer, is pointless and will merely consume your valuable time. Success in social media is not about the size of your lists on Facebook, twitter and your blog. It is all about how you manage to convert the people on your lists into long term customers. Use technology to speak to the right people, in the right places and awaken their emotion. Get them to know, like, trust and see value in what you have to offer, by communicating relevant meaningful information and joining conversations, which are relevant to your products or services.
When building your strategy to incorporate social media into your marketing mix, it would serve you well to take a look at the corporate trend setters such as Kodak, Dell computers and Starbucks. Take a look at what they are doing with blogs, Facebook fan pages, their strategy on twitter and YouTube. They are all doing a pretty good job of using all these forms of media to promote their companies. Observing what they are up to, will give you a great background and feel for what is working right now.
Dell for example uses their Facebook fan page to build loyalty with their customers. www.facebook.com/DellSocialMedia. This page was created to offer a social media resource that allows Dell to target a demographic outside of their traditional market. The Coco Cola fan page on Facebook is run by two people not employed by Coca Cola. www.facebook.com/cocacola. This was a page started by two fans of Coca Cola. Instead of shutting the page down for using the Coca Cola brand without permission, they rewarded the two people that started the page with a free trip to Atlanta, for their efforts in starting the page. This free trip was widely publicized as Coca Cola was hoping that more people would become loyal fans too. The coca cola page now has a massive following of loyal fans.
If you are to succeed with the social media strategy, you must be authentic, passionate and you must be transparent in all your communications. When you commit to make social media work for your business you cannot just dip your toe in to the conversation pool and hope to become successful. You must commit to become a leader and be viewed as an expert in your field. Constantly provide good quality content and lead your conversations with integrity.
Step 11 – Building Meaningful Networks – Means You Won’t Need to Succeed Alone
We all have gifts and amazing natural strengths in certain areas of our lives, yet no matter how well we may perform in these areas. There are still parts of our lives where we need support and are not very adept or strong. These areas where we have weaknesses cause us to reach a chasm in our lives or businesses, where we are unable to proceed without the support of someone else. Identifying people with whom we can form mutually beneficial relations, who can assist us and whom we can support or help get what they want in return. Will accelerate our daily progress and help us achieve our goals.
Identifying and connecting with the right people, with whom you can form meaningful connection, is one of the main reasons for building a successful, mutually supportive network. Trying to build a successful business, without building a supportive network, using face to face networking events or the various Social Media platforms as tools to support your efforts, is like carrying a heavy suitcase without wheels at the airport. You very quickly feel tired and overwhelmed.
Creating an effective networking platform of mutually supportive people, who really connect and can depend on each other for support, is like walking at the airport along one of those travelators, with a perfectly balanced suitcase on wheels. You have momentum and quickly reach your destination. The same is true when you engage in effective networking and you form meaningful, mutual beneficial connection with the right people. You support each other and accelerate each other’s success.
The support you get from an effective, carefully chosen support network will make succeeding in both your personal and business lives feel effortless. It will feel like you have a travelator under your feet, speeding you along the path of success. Mutually beneficial connection with the right people is the catalyst, which will accelerate your ability to achieve all your goals and dreams.
The Dunbar 150 theory states that we can only realistically have 150 meaningful relationships at any one time. The average Facebook user has around 130 friends. So this theory seems to hold true even with social media. This means that even though you may have built huge networks of connections via your social media platforms, you will only ever be able to communicate with these individuals on a daily basis; you will never be able to form any type of meaningful connection with them.
Oprah Winfrey, Donald Trump and Richard Branson have revealed in their biographies that their incredible success was supported and accelerated by about one to two dozen people. Your life is no different; the energy you are wasting on attempting to build meaningful connection with thousands of people via your various social media platforms is wasted. You would be far better off using your social media presence to support your networking efforts, where you can form meaningful connection with a smaller group of targeted individuals.
There are some opportunities that will come from communicating with a broader base of individuals via social media. You get to consistently communicate with a huge spectrum of different individuals. This opens up possibility and people, who you did not even think were potential connections, may contact you to connect. This has happened to me on a few occasions over the past few years.
In October last year I was contacted by someone from Dallas Texas to come over to the US and speak. I had never thought of going to Dallas, it was not even on my radar. The gentleman in question had been following my daily quotes for about eight months. He enjoyed my work and having seen the consistent quality of work I could produce, he wanted to see me speak in Dallas. I have enjoyed a couple of these windfalls over the past few years. I must however state that these have all been great experiences, but have contributed very little to the overall growth in my business. The consistent growth in my business has come from identifying targeted individuals within carefully chosen organisations and then building connection with them.
Connection is Crucial
Get out of the idea that you must always be in broadcast mode. This applies at face to face networking events and on your social media platforms. No one likes to interact with people that only push content or information one way. Respond to as many people within your social media network as possible.
- I comment on at least 3 targeted people’s blogs every day
- Communicate with 5 targeted people on Facebook every day
- Join one or two targeted twitter conversations a day.
Strive to be someone, who always adds value to everyone around you, who helps and connects with people daily. Someone with whom people can connect to with confidence, form mutually beneficial relationships with, which will serve both parties, leaving everyone better off after making the connection. Successful networking either face to face or via social media is all about looking for ways to connect with and support other people. Always try to contribute as much as possible to the people in your network and they will return the favour.
Step 12 – Using Social Media to Support Traditional Networking Strategies
If you were a heavy earth moving equipment sales person, would you go to a networking event for the bridal industry? Well, if you were a really good salesperson, you could convince the brides, that yellow, would look really good with her white dress and when driving to the church she would leave an indelible impression on everyone they passed. Under those circumstances, you may find this networking meeting the most valuable use of your time. On the other hand, you could discover a civil or mining industry networking event and rather attend that meeting, where you could build connection with the right decision makers. These would be mutually beneficial relationships, where you would supply product to make their mining or civil engineering processes simpler and they would invest in your products. The same holds true for using social media as either a networking or marketing power tool. You must network in the right places, where the right people, who want your products and services hang out.
The way you can stand head and shoulders above your competition is to commit to blend old school networking with social media. If you are planning to attend an in person function, follow the simple procedure as laid out below:
- If it is possible contact the organizers and see who is attending the function.
- Research the people by visiting LinkedIn, Google or Facebook and see who you want to connect with on the day. By identifying key individuals before the event and knowing a little about them places you in a very favourable position to connect with them at the event.
- Subscribe to their blogs or ezines.
- Try to discover some background information on all of the people you want to meet. This will give you something to initiate the conversation with them when you meet at any networking event. All the information you gather before the event will help you to build rapport with these really important contacts at the event.
- Print pictures of the people you want to connect with and search them out at the event. This saves a huge amount of wasted time at networking events trying to discover the right people to connect with.
- Does the event have a # tag? Use the # tag to tweet during and after the event. This feature on Twitter allows you to visit the # tag group after the event and see what everyone at that event was tweeting during the event. Reading these tweets after the event will help you to identify other people that may need what you sell.
- Follow anyone that is tweeting about the event on twitter.
- Tweet any specific attendees, before the event and invite them to connect at the event.
- Make a twitter list of all attendees and tweet about it. This will make you the go to guy for information.
- At the event tweet live about the event via your mobile device with the # tag.
- This will help you build rapport with other attendees and build relationships with the organizers. They will love the visibility you are creating for the event.
Social media is here to stay and has changed the way we network and market our businesses forever. The fundamentals of business will always apply and people will always be the final decision makers, but technology has now made these functions so much more streamlined. Social media is not something to fear and avoid it is a powerful tool that when used properly, will catapult your business to levels of success you can only imagine.
After meeting someone either at a networking event or via any other forum, it is crucial to maintain the momentum and to build connection with them as soon as possible. Social media offers you a really great opportunity to maintain and develop these relationships. As soon as you return to your office after any networking event, immediately send connection requests to all the people that you want to stay in contact with. Have system in place that reminds you when they accept your request and immediately send them a thank you for connecting. Continue communicating with these people and discover ways that you can help them with a hobby or challenge they are facing. Keep sending out useful information over your social media platforms, comment on their post, blogs etc. and allow the relationship to percolate and develop. This connection can be the catalyst for you to turn in person networking into sustained online networking and meaningful connection.
I have devised a simple weekly strategy where I plan to do the following each week:
- Meet in person for a drink or lunch with three important contacts. This is planned and scheduled each Friday afternoon
- Connect with 15 important contacts via the internet. This can be a comment on their blog, a targeted email or via their social media platform.
- I send a gift to one important person. This is not a gift because I feel obliged, it is a carefully thought out gift with meaning. The recipient is always really pleased with the unexpected gift and they will feel more connected with you after receiving it.
Author: Andrew Horton Motivational Speakers South Africa