It Still Starts (and Ends) With the Customer

20 07 2009

So, you are looking to build a Social Media marketing plan for your technology-based product or service.  Where to start?  The basics have not really changed a lot here:

Five questions to start your Social Media marketing plan:

  1. Who is your target customer?  It sound simple, but a lot of business have crashed and burned right here because they did not have a clear picture of who is using their products and why. There is a very interesting story of how Ford Motor is trying to turn itself around by going back to customer definition.
  2. What customer problems does my product solve?  If you cannot articulate this clearly and succinctly, then nobody will be interested in what you have.
  3. Why is it better than the other competitive products out there?
  4. Why will customers pay for this product or service?  We are in a global recession.  What will make customers part with money right now?
  5. Are there enough customers out there with this problem who are willing to buy?  Is this a definable market segment?  Can you later grow into adjacent market segments if you are successful?

Now that we have the basic marketing out of the way, we can get down to how your product is purchased.   The question is: Who is involved in the process?

  • Who uses the product or service?
  • Who purchases the product?  Not necessarily the same as the user.
  • Who approves the purchase?  Examples: Line of Business VP, CIO, CFO.
  • Who within the company influences the purchase? This is where is gets tricky.  It could be a architect-type person, a LoB expert with a problem, or in the case of a viral product the end users themselves.
  • Who outside of the company influences the purchase?  This is changing and we will talk more about this in later blogs.

OK, now to the Community part of this discussion.  Social Media marketing is all about building a community where your customers can become part of a two-way discussion, getting them involved with your brand experience, getting them to use your product, and ultimately building an engaging relationship to the point where they become enthusiastic recommenders of your product who play an active role in the community.

The challenge of Social Media marketing is to find the right tools to build the right types of forums for your key target communities to participate in.  These forums become extensions of your brand identity and brand experience.  Also, this is not a one-size-fits-all excercise.  For example, you will (at least) want to consider two discussion tracks:

  • A Business Discussion where business people can talk about business benefits, TCO, ROI and customer experiences and success stories.
  • A Technical Discussion where they experts can discuss the technical details of the product, it’s deployment and administration.  This group can find the business discussion annoying.

We will be talking more about many of these topics in future blogs.

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