And how can your company take practical advantage of those forecasted changes? Like now? These days, the future arrives mere milliseconds after it’s foretold, at least in the world of business and strategy.
Of course, any recipe for success, if followed blindly, can quickly turn to disaster. Just picture two people showing up to a party wearing identical outfits – all because it was the “one” hyped by an expert. And they bought the program, like a couple of wind-up dolls.
With that caveat, consider PR blogger Jessica Lawlor’s suggestions for action, based on information she gathered from a pair of conferences, one on public relations and the other on social media. And then tailor them to what works for you and your clientele:
Superfans Are Your Superweapon
Just be careful how super-sized you allow them to become. No one, other than an oilman, likes a gusher. Genuine, believable praise about your product or service, on the other hand, can propel customers your way in a heartbeat, especially through social media. It’s that old “word of mouth” thing again, applied electronically. Hopefully by someone whose “likes” don’t include subjects, people or places that compromise the source. As one honcho told the social media conference that Lawlor attended, “You’re marketing to the wrong people…the real money is in connecting with your biggest fans. Your fans will go out and acquire new customers for you.” Just show them some love, and see that it’s returned. All in authentic, businesslike ways.
Surrender Control of Your Brand
But only under certain conditions – as when it’s clear that your biggest fans understand they have as much of a stake in your brand as you do. Which is sometimes only true in theory. In reality, you still bear far more responsibility for the brand’s financial success or failure. Think of this one as having to surrender the wheel to a teenage driver who needs to learn by doing. You wouldn’t just blindly hand over control. You’d do so gradually, building up trust so that, together, you and your fans – not necessarily your customers, Lawlor says — drive the brand to a better place.
Get Strategic About Content, Especially Long Term
Know which content you want to promote as far ahead of time as possible. Schedule it. Now. And remember one expert’s rule of three: “If you create a piece of content, you must use it on at least three different platforms/channels.” Which is a nice goal, though not necessarily practical. If a superfan pens a great piece about your product on, say, Facebook, you’re under no compulsion to repost their opinion on your company blog. Tweeting out a link might work OK, though. And Lawlor says that a balance of original and curated content might best serve smaller organizations, where all-original content creation can stretch resources.
Wise Up About Data
Yes, it’s now true that getting the math right counts as much in the PR mix as choosing the right words. Lawlor quotes a conference expert as saying, “Data is sexy…because data equals more money.” Although, if you’re dropping the ball on regularly posting content and then telling the content creators that their stories don’t have legs, based on data impacted by those posting inconsistencies, that’s not exactly a good formula, either. Sometimes you only get the results that you look to measure. A good point to remember when diving into analytics. Which everyone must.
Make Yourself Useful
Why else should people pay for your services? Especially with alternative sources of information and expertise now literally at their fingertips? Usefulness, Lawlor suggests, amounts to providing information that your customers need and even crave. People are literally searching for answers and solutions – seemingly 24/7. Imagine how useful you’d be if you provided them with what they’re looking for before they find it? Imagine how respected you’d be by placing your customers’ needs ahead of any urge to promote yourself. Which, in itself, is a pretty outstanding way to promote yourself.