You can find out some pretty interesting stuff on social media.
For example, last week I read a tweet that told me my website was not a website unless it had backlinks.
Oh. I mean I do have them. But that’s a pretty scary thought.
Maybe my marketing strategy isn’t a marketing strategy unless it’s social. I have read that kind of thing too.
And that content marketing is the only marketing.
Now, far be it for me to suggest that just because the three tweets were posted by, respectively, an SEO agency, a social media consultant, and a content marketing fanboy, we should ignore them for the self-justifying cobblers they really are.
Because maybe they are making a better point than they know.
Taken individually, they are ridiculous claims.
Taken together, they are saying something important about the way you sell.
And let’s be clear, although it’s almost 100% likely that not one of these self-professed experts has ever done any selling themselves, that’s what they are talking about.
You can build communities till you’re blue in the face, but at the end of your financial year, when you send your books to your accountants, they will do a number of different sums.
One of the most important – no, make that the most important – is where they add up all the money you made, and subtract all the money you spent.
The first quantity is your sales.
A long time ago, in the early years of the Twentieth Century, a former Canadian policeman named John Kennedy told advertising agency boss Albert Lasker that advertising was “salesmanship in print”.
It’s one of my favourite quotes because it links one of that (and this) century’s high-water marks of self-referentiality with an enduring truth about business.
In terms of their use in business, social media, content marketing and SEO are all attempts to find a way to reach more people and persuade them to trust you enough to give you money in exchange for goods and services that will solve their problems.
That sounds pretty similar to any definition of selling you’re likely to come across.
Back to our gurus.
Collectively, they tell us: “do everything”.
The smarter ones tell us: “test everything”.
The dimwits tell us that there are, “Five reasons you shouldn’t try to measure social ROI”. Why not? You measure everything else. When did social media get a get out of jail free card?
I run a fairly diminutive company; our clients run huge ones. We have something in common though.
We test different approaches to sales. When we find the ones that work better than others, we put more resources into them.
We may not necessarily stop doing the less successful things altogether but they become less of a priority.
This could be why we are paid to create such antiquated devices as direct mail packs.
I know this sounds barely credible in an age when you can reach 225K followers in microseconds for nothing. But it works.
You write someone a personal letter suggesting they buy from you and guess what? They do.
What’s more, they come back in a year’s time and do it all again.
How can this be possible?
The answer is simple.
While the bosses of SEO, social media, digital marketing, content marketing, advertising, direct marketing, PR, sales promotion, sales training and dronevertising (yes, really) agencies bleat about how you can’t survive unless you do the thing they want to sell to you, and that you must do the things they tell you to do – you can.
Like any sensible businessperson from the last two or three hundred years, you are going to identify your customers, figure out what they need, then set about providing it a price that makes sense for them and for you.
Then you are going to advertise it to them.
You are going to pick the times and places where you are reasonably confident they will see your advertising.
Your advertising may take many forms, from social media updates to telephone marketing, direct mail to email blasts, PPC campaigns to <gasp> print advertising.
What you most assuredly are not going to do (I hope) is fall for any nonsense about what your advertising must, ought or have to look like.