As an Enterprise Software marketing or sales professional, do you know who your customers are? Do you know how to engage them? They sound like rookie questions, but for a Social Media Marketing strategy to work (or any marketing strategy for that matter) we need to deeply understand this as a marketing organization. And we do this by creating Customer Personae.
In traditional marketing, we characterized our customers to understand what they wanted and how to reach them. If we understood what they wanted, we knew what product to develop. And once we understood how to reach them, we’d then pitch our product with all its glorious features with the hope that they would buy. Classically, the four P’s process - product, place, price, promotion.
In Social Media Marketing this is not an effective approach, because Social Media Marketing is not about your products. Your customers take center stage of the conversation. But wait a minute, in Social Media Marketing, your customers are not really customers at all! They’re your community! It’s becoming a cliche, but it’s very important to think in these terms, as it helps to set the stage for the content you are to create and how you are going to engage them.
By illustration, if you were to go into your local community gathering place and meet people there for the first time, you wouldn’t just start pitching your products or services at them. You’d start a conversation with someone in the same way you would any other - you’d find out about them. Find out what’s going on in their lives, and along the way maybe you’d relate a similar story of your own - the contractor that actually finished the kitchen remodel on time and within budget! ”What’s your email address? I’ll send you his contact information.” This is how Social Media Marketing works.
Back to creating your personae. Why are we doing this again? To step into customer shoes to better understand how they make buying decisions. We also want to discover topics and subjects that each persona would be interested in (your product is not an interesting topic, by the way…not yet).
As an Enterprise Software vendor, your community isn’t just your users. Your target community contains everybody that comes into contact with your product, the users of your product, your company, your personnel, and your brand in general.
Think beyond the sales cycle, and extend your persona map to the life-cycle of the product.
Traditionally, within the Sales Cycle, you would find the following personae: User, Decision Maker, Evaluator, Gatekeeper, Influencer, etc. These are important people to understand and list, but there are more that you need to consider for the life-cycle of Enterprise Software - IT, Legal, Accounts Payable, Finance, for example.
Once you have listed up these different personae, create representative biographies for each (not job descriptions!). At the top of each biography call out their goals or aspirations. Underneath that describe things like their background, their daily routines, problems they regularly encounter, current solutions that they use, etc. Create as detailed a picture as you can as this will be a key source of content ideas.
Underneath the description, detail how they typically get and absorb information. Is it videos? Presentations? Online Forums? White Papers? Demonstrations? Product evaluations? From this list you will be able to determine the form in which your content should take.
Last, but not least, list the ways in which each persona can be reached and how they prefer to be reached (or engaged). The communication map for your market will be wide and varied. However, one thing is almost certain - your original assumptions are probably wrong. At least in the spread.
Your community is using Facebook, they are on LinkedIn, they are in forums, they are on Twitter, and they’re probably using email less and less. They’re hardly ever reading paper magazines (what few still exist), and very few of them as a percentage go to conferences and trade shows.
Forbes, in collaboration with Google, put out a very interesting study
on executives’ use of the internet. Anecdotally, this is a demographic that is not supposed to be online. Read the report for the full scoop, but here are some interesting statistics that indicate that only one thing is constant - change.
(As an aside, in the report they refer to different generational personae as Generation Wang, Generation PC, and Generation Netscape.)
So, in summary, before you embark on your Social Media Marketing strategy, and once you have your objectives written down, create personae for each of your community types (customer). Include as many as make sense from both the sales cycle and the product life-cycle. (You may discover some hidden gems in the latter.) Once you have done this, you will have a good starting point for not only the types of content you should be developing, but also how you should be reaching your community.
A final note - To do an effective job of this, you have to get out of the conference room, out of the office, and talk to your customers. If you don’t, you’re just guessing.
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Posted under Social Media Marketing