[Laurie Pehar Borsh is a public relations professional, social media PR consultant/guru, and member of the Barrel O’Monkeyz team (http://www.lpbpr.com/).]
How do you track results from your traditional direct mail or advertising campaigns? If you’re like most small business owners and entrepreneurs, you probably compare the number of phone or email inquiries you get before and after a particular PR or marketing activity, or you monitor traffic on your Web site or at your bricks-and-mortar establishment, or you track product orders online or in-person. You also know that while such measures are not exact science, unlike full-blown market surveys, they will at least give you a pretty good sense of whether your efforts are having an impact or not.
Of course, most of us have no idea what kind of increased activity we might see due to marketing, if any. We’re just hoping for some sort of spike in activity, some sense that our efforts are worthwhile.
For example, imagine you sent out 5,000 post cards last month with a special offer. You got 10 calls and two purchases. Was the effort successful? Do you keep on trying?
- As for SUCCESS, consider the fact that, if nothing else, you reached out to 5,000 households in your target market. You have to assume that not everyone read your message, but many did. Just because only 10 people responded does not mean that only 10 people “got” the message. It’s safe to assume that many more people are now aware of your business/offer than were before they received the postcard.
- As for whether you TRY AGAIN, I say “definitely.” Marketing should never be a one-shot proposition. The rule-of-thumb is that you must reach out to someone 3 to 8 times before he or she takes action. Some may respond sooner, but the real goal of any marketing activity should be to build long-term awareness and motivate prospects to become customers when the time is right—for them. Generally speaking, it’s going to take more than one mailing to generate calls.
Now let’s bring Social Media into the picture. The way we measure its impact is really no different from how me measure traditional PR and marketing results. Yet for some reason, our expectations tend to be quite different. Perhaps it’s the tendency for everything online to be viewed as instantly gratifying, from music purchases to book downloads to access to information. Similarly, we expect the effects of Social Media on our brands to be instantaneous as well.
But Social Media needs time to root and sprout, too. What is different, though, is the ease with which you can adjust your Social Media efforts on the fly. Where you may have to allot a few weeks’ time for message development, mailing list acquisition, printing, and postal services to get 5,000 postcards out the door and into prospects’ homes, with Social Media the “time to market” for most messages is days, if not hours. What’s more, you can continue to massage the message day-to-day until you start getting the kind of traction you want—and you don’t have to go back to the drawing board with the graphic designer to redo the post card, have it re-printed, re-visit the mailing list, etc., and wait another month or so to hope you got it right.
Plus, Social Media tends to have more staying power. For example, when you mail out a postcard (or place and Ad or have a story appear in a daily or weekly newspaper), you may get some initial response, but the awareness created is often fleeting. Postcards and newspapers (especially dailies) come and go fast, so there’s lots of finger-crossing that your postcard, ad, or article appears on the day a particular prospect feels like calling or buying. And depending on what you’ve spent on your ad or to create and mail your postcard, or land an interview in the newspaper, the return on investment can sometimes be tough to justify for something that’s so hit-or-miss. On the other hand, Social Media, rather than getting dumped in the circular file, tends to “stay in place” (on search engines, social media sites, audience inboxes), growing over time as more and more content is added and shared. Social Media also lets you get your content out fast and frequently, especially once you have your Social Media “pipeline” in place.
Let’s be clear. Social Media is not magic. You must first find the right mix of Social Media vehicles (i.e. Twitter, FaceBook, Linkedin) for your message, develop the right message and content, and then “continue to build it” the right way, sharing content via your Social Media feeds so that “followers” can then pass it along to their friends, and so on, and so on. You must also make a commitment of time (if you plan to manage the activities yourself) and money (if you plan to hire others to do it for you), or (usually) both. Rest assured, though, that when you continue to contribute and engage (aka “creating online/social media publicity”) you will be found and you will start to see results.
While it might sound as though I am “dumping” on traditional marketing and PR in favor of Social Media, I’m not. Those methods have their place, too, and are often wildly successful depending on the business and the target audience. What I am suggesting is that Social Media be used to enhance these traditional activities. When people who read, hear, or see your ads discover they can also interact with you and your business online, and can share your information via their own growing virtual communities, the impact can be pretty amazing and powerful.
What are some social media/traditional marketing and PR combinations that have worked for you? Share here with the rest of the Barrel O’Monkeyz universe.
QUICK HITS FROM THE KING MONKEY
- THANKS TO ALL for the well-wishes, support, and prayers! My back surgery went amazingly well. I was literally walking without a cane the next day (and having to hold myself back so I didn’t overdo it)! Let the healing begin. To those who helped me get around and “take care of business” pre- and post-surgery, and to those who gave me virtual “shout outs” across the miles, your support, encouragement, good humor, and prayers helped me more than you will ever know!
- Join me in supporting the 10th Annual “Team Hope Walk” for The Huntington’s Disease Society of America (HDSA)-Orange County Chapter, Saturday, May 19, at the University of California, Irvine. Help spread the word for this year’s event on Facebook. Register and start building your team, by signing up here.
- Barrel O’Monkeyz is proud to sponsor the University of San Diego’s 4th annual “Wine Classic” fundraiser benefitting student scholars, July 22, 2012. Wineries from throughout California and Mexico will be on hand with more than 50 wines available for sampling. To find out more about sponsor opportunities and the event, visit http://www.sandiego.edu/wineclassic/.