describe the image This is a guest post by Jeff Molander, author of Off the Hook Marketing: How to Make Social Sell . Jeff answers questions each month live on AskJeffMolander.com and blogs at OffTheHookBlog.com   . Be sure to tune to this Target Marketing webinar on June 30, where he'll reveal tips on generating leads using social media.

There is a simple way to make social media sell for you. It's practical enough that any business can gain benefits regardless of target market, products, services, or size. It is the key to selling more with tools like Facebook, Twitter, podcasts, YouTube, LinkedIn, and blogs. The key is to focus on solving customers' problems first and choosing technology or “social space ” later.

1. Get back to basics.

Begin by following the needs of customers, not gurus or best practices. Help customers understand their problems more clearly, in ways that equip them to discover your answers (AKA your products and services).

Understanding how to “do social media marketing” or content marketing is worthless if it fails to pay you back in leads or sales. And that means adopting a bold, old approach to social media.  Yes, old.

For instance, might the answer to selling more with social tools be rooted in joining or starting conversations that are truly worth having? And wouldn't it be best to converse in ways that generate customer inquiries – questions you can help them solve? These old fashioned ideas are the key to selling more and more often in social spaces.

Helping customers get important things done and achieve clarity is the starting point for successful social media marketing endeavors, because when customers understand their problems more clearly, they're better equipped to find answers (namely, your products and services).

2. Think like a designer.

Plan each social marketing tactic to scratch your customers' itches. Mix in time-tested, direct response promotions that create opportunities to connect those itches (problems, urges) to products and services.   

On the business-to-business side, businesses like commercial real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle are capitalizing on customers' nagging problems by provoking reactions that convert into leads.  For instance, they're using provocative, 90 second video clips to create a steady stream of inquiries. 

Leading social sellers prompt customers to ask more questions out of habit. They agitate, entice (point at opportunity) or warn (protect from risk). At worst, it educates or helps customers get something done. At best, it drives them to seek more detailed, relevant answers via products and services. 

3. Translate: Be forever relevant.

Use social media to help capture insights on customers' pain points. Then put them to work. Let customers tell you how to be relevant. Invent ways to keep prompting more questions that your products and services answer. Stay relevant over time.

Selling with social media means doing more of what you're already doing “offline.” For instance, grocery store Harris Teeter pays its customers to ask health and wellness questions on its Facebook page. The store is wisely giving customers incentive to “signal” where they need guidance in their lives so that Harris Teeter can be their guide.

But the truth is, this strategy isn't new for Harris Teeter. The store is choosing to do what they are best at: guiding customers. Facebook is not the inspiration. 

How can you start creating opportunities for your business to participate in meaningful, relevant, and very purposeful conversations, opening doors for questions that your products and services have answers for?

You might be a one-man/woman band or maybe you're directing a whole group of marketers. You could be a business-to-business or consumer-focused company. Either way, it doesn't matter. You can make social media marketing produce more leads and sales, starting tomorrow, by adopting these three habits of successful social sellers. Now go get 'em!


Originally published Jun 16, 2011 4:00:00 PM, updated July 03 2013

Topics:

Social Media Inbound Sales