Sadly small business entrepreneurs are often not aware of the cutting edge “thought leadership” that informs business intelligence in today’s marketplace. They are too busy putting out the “day-to-day” fires to follow what is happening right NOW in the marketplace with respect to the dramatic change between consumers and businesses. They are too busy working in their business to work on their business. Especially in Canada, were in spite of a serious recession to the south, the order of the day is “business as usual”. This means the same old methods of marketing, if any, are utilized – some print, mostly world of mouth. They continue to act as if we are in a bubble not connected the rest of the world which allows them to ignore both the canary in the coal mine and/or the elephant in the room asking – What to do about Social Media?
While Canadian small businesses struggle with how to grow in a rapidly shifting market – our American cousins are moving ahead with adoption of social media very quickly. Faced with a serious recession and uncertain future they have little choice. Radical change drives new mindsets. Canadian businesses, on the other hand, tend to be risk averse and the adoption of Social media remains in their minds as a big question mark with no value assigned and no plan for adoption in place. They remain in “wait and see” mode.
Like I said, can learn a lot from studying the competition. When it comes to social media this service is now offered by several vendors. Small business success with social media will depend on who wise business leaders decide to work with and how they deploy their strategy (plan). The following are frequently heard responses to my inquiries as to who is being considered for this task….
1. Your wife…or hubby – who knows something about IT and the internet…
2. A big ad agency who is learning as they go and often outsourcing this “special” area of expertise to a consultant.
3. A small boutique run by a single individual who has extensive expertise in the field grounded in the areas of sales, marketing, customer service, communications and community building
It is clear that corporations who are leading in the adoption of social media are using business intelligence to inform them. They are discovering that a business with A SOCIAL media focus who works to integrate it across all of its departments is going to be more sustainable in the long run and will out perform its competition. This is a perfect example of business intelligence supporting better business decision-making.
I recently discovered that one of the big players in this space is IBM. They claim that they have been exploring and experimenting with social media internally for the past 6 years starting with blogging. They are now offering consulting for small, med and large businesses on how to adopt Social Media.
Studying your competition has always been a good strategy for learning how to be a success in business. Common perception is that the bigger the business the more successful they are. How a big business does sales and marketing, innovates new products and connects with suppliers gives the entrepreneur ideas and insights on how they can grow their own business. At business schools their success stories inspire the new MBA’s and are called case studies. In the new world of social media you can either read all the latest books or blogs or listen online in order to find out who is executing successfully and how. It is all so new with only 5 years of adoption – 10 if you take it from the start of Google and Search that there is no one person with all the answers…Social Media can be very basic or highly customized.
On Friday while mining for gold in my social media feeds I found a great webinar on Social Media by IBM. I have listened to it a couple of times and made detailed notes. I am grateful that they shared their expertise and practice what they preach.
Ironically I also chose last year to launch my focused services making the quantum shift from Sales & Marketing to Search & Social Media after over 20 years in the new media, SALES and marketing space. For me there is a direct correlation between the two offerings and the upgrade of the first to the second. It goes something like this Sales = Search, Marketing=Social Media. Over the last few years the line between the two has been blurring and it has become very difficult to keep each one in its box.
IBM is already stressing the urgency for businesses to adopt Social Media in order to drive sales — saying already 57% of businesses are more likely to out perform their competition if they share their “expertise” and respond to customers thru social media. My number one take away from the IBM webinar has to do with Sales – one of my areas of expertise. A response to the question “How to you build trust?” was “This is not about fast and furious… this is a about relationship building, gaining friends and building trust over time” The bottom line, for me, remains that business intelligence in creating a SOCIAL business continues to lie in a solid understanding of the technology SALES process.