Fitting social media into your marketing puzzle

Your business’s marketing strategy is a lot like a small jigsaw puzzle with large pieces. Each piece of the puzzle is as important as the next in order to develop the big picture. Without one piece, you cannot complete the puzzle and there is a big hole in the final product. Each piece has its own specialized place in the puzzle. That specific piece ties into another important piece that is used to create the big picture.

Your marketing plan should not be any different. Everything you do has to have one common goal, to get customers in the door of your facility. Each part of your plan has a certain place in the large picture and connects to another specific piece.

Some of those pieces can be boat shows, dealer open houses, your website, social media, print advertising and lead management. Whichever methods you choose, it is important that they all have the same message.

A great example is social media. Alone, social media cannot be your entire marketing plan. Your business has to use social media to compliment your other channels. When used with other channels, it is a strong tool that cannot be underestimated.

Social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr need to have one common goal. You cannot just develop a Facebook page and expect all of your customers to become fans or visit it faithfully. You cannot place videos of your facility on YouTube and expect that this will draw in new customers. Your social media strategy needs to be channeling to other social media resources and ultimately guiding your customers and potential customers to your website and, ultimately, to your facility.

Yes, social media is a powerful tool, but it cannot be the only tool. Social media allows your business to communicate with your customers. It is allows your business to converse with your customers and provide immediate information and immediate responses. This is a great way to communicate new inventory, service specials, dealer events or even communicating to your customers from one of your events.

A good example of how to use social media is to ask customers what inventory they would like you to carry. What colors would they like to see on certain models? Creating small surveys does two things: First, it assists you in making sure that you are stocking a boat that your customers want and that you can turn relatively quickly. Second, it shows your customers that you are listening to what they have to say and that you value their opinion.

On the flip side, if social media isn’t part of your marketing plan, then you could potentially be missing out on great opportunities to connect with customers who may be searching for a new service center, events to go to on their boats, or just looking to connect with other boaters in the area. Think about this, Facebook surpassed Google for the past couple of months as the most visited site on the Web. If you do not have a profile or fan page on Facebook, your current customers and potential customers will not find you.

Facebook specifically focuses on ensuring that their pages come up first in searches on Bing, Google, Yahoo, etc. Social media is the new Internet. Remember back several years when you could not decide whether or not you needed a website for your business. Ultimately, you decided to allocate the resources to the development of your site because so many people were using the Web to look up information. Social media is currently in that stage in the development process with most businesses. People are using social media to search for information. Just think, YouTube is the No. 2 search engine used today, just behind Google and ahead of others such as Yahoo and Bing.

In the end, each part of your marketing plan needs to compliment the other. Each piece of the puzzle is as important as the next. Without each specific piece, the puzzle is not complete and an incomplete puzzle will never give you the big picture.

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