As time progresses, social media is becoming a more integral part of marketing as a whole. With the explosion in adoption it would be silly for companies not to take advantage of this innovative way to communicate with their customers. With the mass adoption of technology and social media, human behavior and expectations have changed and companies must adapt to these changes to remain competitive.

The internet as a whole has forever changed how people communicate, interact and access information. Due to the fact that just about any piece of knowledge, any unanswered question, or any cat video can be accessed within seconds, people now expect companies to respond to them faster. Whether they are trying to contact the business by phone, email or tweet, people want their answers and they want them fast. When crafting a social media initiative you must ensure that you have resources and tools available to identify and answer social mentions within a timely fashion to ensure your customers are satisfied. As a matter of fact, Hubspot did a study on this and they found that “72% of people that complain on social media expect a response within an hour!” Now, I would recommend answering more than just complaints, even a regular brand mention warrants the occasional response to make that person feel special. This is also a great way for large companies to create special experiences with their customers that hadn’t really been historically available. Just look at how this could positively impact your business:

Taken from Hubspot, click to view post

Another thing for companies to consider is the growth and decline of certain networks. Over the past 10 years or so we have seen many social networks fail and succeed and companies must be aware of the trends before throwing all their eggs in one basket. A strategy that spreads a few of the top social networks is better than investing all your resources into one. If you decide to tackle them one at a time, make sure the network is here to stay, you would hate to be that guy who dumped all your resources into marketing via Myspace back in 2006. The safe bet in this case is to do your research before rolling out a strategy and try to incorporate a few of the top networks first before diving into some of the smaller ones. A great place to start is Facebook and Twitter.

One last thing to remember is that when it comes to technology, the only constant is change. The space is ever changing and a social media initiative must keep this in mind. You must account for the strategy to constantly be changing and evolving in order to succeed. Just a few years ago there were only a couple major social media platforms to worry about incorporating into a social media strategy. Now, I have over 10 of social networking apps on my cell phone alone. Not only are the social networks evolving but the way people consume the networks are. Incorporating all these variables into a holistic marketing strategy that ensures a flawless transition from screen to screen, network to network and device to device is a must at this day in age.

 

This is some thing I have been observing over the past couple years and after reading some materials for one of my marketing classes it confirmed it. Traditional forms of direct marketing where you email blast, cold call, buy leads, or direct mail huge amounts of people to fill the top of the funnel are changing. The vast majority of buyers no longer rely on companies for information which is why there has been a shift to inbound marketing. Because of the Groundswell movement, they are doing their own research and finding all the information on their own rather than relying on companies and institutions to do so.  Now with that said, you cannot completely discard these direct marketing techniques. I think they are still important to generate awareness and get the ball rolling. The key is to guide people’s research process in the direction of your products.

The major change from the past is, sales people would prospect, generate interest and after a few meetings, sell the product or wait for people to contact their company. A trend I have been noticing now is, once the awareness is generated, people wait to talk to sales until they are completely ready to buy. The amount of time buyers are discussing with sales people has be decreased dramatically. Essentially sales people are only there to discuss pricing and close the deal rather than do a whole lot of selling. This is because there is an abundance of information on the internet for people to do their own research. This coupled with peoples widespread trust issues with salespeople leads to a change in the way sales organizations operate. Because of this, the lead funnel looks more like this:

New Lead Funnel

New Lead Funnel

This is why you see such a shift to inbound marketing which is what I spend my day-to-day doing. With all that being said, there are ways your company can help combat this change and make sure your sales people are using their time more efficiently, because lets face it, they are never going to listen to that voicemail you left them.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

This is probably the most important. When people take to the internet to do their research, they will not spend hours fishing through the hundreds of pages of Google results. In fact according to Search Engine Journal 75% of users don’t scroll past the first page. This means it is paramount for your business to rank within the top results.

Content

To aid with search engine optimization you must create content. The more stuff your site has pertaining to your offerings, the more Google will find when it crawls the web and the higher you rank. You must also be clever about how you curate this content to make sure its set up to capture leads. Landing pages with forms in front of whitepapers and other assets are a great way of doing this. This helps get people into your awkwardly shaped funnel.

Re-targetting

This is a great thing to add to your inbound marketing strategy. The way it works in a nutshell is; say a person visits your site while in the process of researching a certain solution then they leave without doing anything. When they go to your site, a cookie (small piece of magical internet data) get stored in their browser. Now when they visit sites with display ad space, you can advertise whitepapers, offers, and other information pertaining to what they were looking at on your site. Again, you would want to put a landing page with a form in front of this content to capture them and poof they are in your funnel.

Now for you sales guys that thought you were off the hook, its your turn to step in and seer the convo. Us inbound makers look to get rid of the need to cold call people and spend time prospecting. We generate and warm up the leads so you can call or email them once they are in the funnel to move them along. Offer help and statistics to aid in their research efforts because at the end of the day, the information they gather will ultimately lead to their purchase decision.

With all that said, there are still companies that prefer the traditional buying process. I have noticed a lot of the bigger companies, and fortune 500’s go through this process because they have trained buyers on their staff to help evaluate these decisions and have the bandwidth to talk to hear every prospective vendors pitch. The majority of companies don’t have the luxury of having seasoned buyers on their staff so thats when these inbound marketing tips really pay off!

So in case you didn’t know this about me I’m going to drop some fun facts. I come from a family of football players. My father played for the 86′ and 87′ Kansas City Chiefs and my grandfather played for the Boston Patriots (yes, Boston, before they were the New England Patriots) for 9 years back in the 60’s. So naturally I played football all the way up through college, Go Wildcats! Through the years I picked up tons of valuable lessons and forged a lot of relationships, one which got me my job at Dyn. For the sake of time, I picked 5 of the top lessons I learned that translated into my professional life.

Problem solving

So this one came about mostly in college. There were many times where my coach would be very vague in his directions and instead of re-explaining he would just say “Figure it the F*** out.” So instead of doing the wrong thing and enduring physical punishment, we would just figure it out and fast. Another way this skill set was trained was when we would implement new plays. If my coach noticed you hesitating or looking confused, he would scream the word “PANIC” over and over again until you got it right. Fast forward to my professional life, the conditions are no where near as extreme so when challenges get thrown my way, I just think, I may not know how to solve this problem immediately but I know I can figure it the f*** out.

Decision making

The game of Football consists of a whole combination of decisions. These decisions must be made quickly, accurately and executed right. Make the wrong one as a DB on defense and the offense scores, make the wrong one on offense while you are carrying the ball, you may get jacked up. Again, when it comes to my professional life, the consequences are less extreme but the ability to think on my toes and make quality decisions on the fly has definitely helped.

Teamwork

Now, this one ins an obvious one that doesn’t only pertain to football, but every team sport. Everybody has a job to do and without everyone executing their jobs the team will fail. Same thing with the professional world, it takes a group of people executing their job functions smoothly for a department and ultimately a business to run optimally. Back when I played ball and someone would mess up their coverage or try to do to much, coach would yell “DO YOUR JOB” because if everyone does there job other teammates wont have to compesate for missed assignments.

Brand/ Flair

I’m a firm believer in the ideology, if you look good, you play good. I know this is silly, but I take it more as a reflection of your talent. My defensive back coach in college was a character and would critique us on our flair. Flair is a combination of gloves, socks, sleeves,  etc that would set you apart from the rest of the team. He was half joking when he did it but he wanted us to look as good as we played. This was our personal brand and this subject has grown exponentially with the adoption of blogging and social media. One other aside I would like to add to this is, the same ideas with branding a company apply. Your branding must visually reflect your product or service in a positive way or else you will loose out on potential customers.

Competitiveness

And lastly, another strikingly obvious one but important as well. It takes very competitive people to succeed in football among other sports. Coincidentally, the same competitiveness makes for a great business person. When I started my career as a business development specialist it was all about the quantity of qualified sales leads I could generate through cold calling and emailing. Obviously I strived for the most every month out of my team. Now, I use email marketing to drive sales leads and I compete with myself month after month.

 

To all of my fellow athletes and competitors out there, I hope I was able to shed light on some of the skills you didn’t know you had. I put these on my resume and used them to my advantage during the interview process. It definitely helped me and hopefully it can help you as well!