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How the social web changes advertising (and why it’s good for business)

This is one of print advertising’s greatest ads. And its assertions have been blasted apart by the social web. Every point it makes – about not knowing who your customers are, about not knowing what your reputation is, about not knowing what you stand for – can be overturned by using the social web to engage and sell.

It dates from the late 1950s, as you can probably tell.

From McGraw-Hill (then a book and magazine publisher, today a financial services and information conglomerate) the ad’s proposition seems clear, obvious and straightforward: advertise in our magazines.

Let’s dissect its claims one by one…

I don’t know who you are

The social web let’s you know exactly who your customers and prospects are, down to the individual. Real-time social analytics map their conversations across social media channels. Now you can engage with them ahead of the sale, in real-time, knowing what they want, and the context for your sales conversation. More on segmentation here.

I don’t know your company

Knowing your audience means you can have the right conversations at the right time for the right reason. By carefully mapping your content to their needs, they get to know your company. Better still, do so in a context that suits them because you’re talking their language in a context that matters to them (very different from an ad. that says “advertise”).

I don’t know your company’s products

Easier to fulfil in today’s world led by social media. But clever serving of content, mapped to audience needs, is now essential (and possible).

And engage with influencers so that they act as ambassadors for your products or services. Analyse the social web in real-time to discover who your existing product and brand fans and detractors are. 

I don’t know what your company stands for

Use the social web, and real-time analytics, to create a community built on shared experiences, mutual trust and relevant content. Know your audience’s needs so you can engage carefully, directly and through influencers. Real-time data means you can track as you go. Again, serving relevant content lets you communicate what your company stands for with those who should care, and those who need to know.

I don’t know your company’s customers

Use the social web to engage with your current customers, working with them to create another community of brand ambassadors. Add in carefully-selected influencers with whom you engage using a win-win-win strategy, and new prospects will know who your customers are, and how you’ve delivered value to them. More on customer engagement here.

I don’t know your company’s record

Search engines will return coverage about your organization on the desks of your prospects.

The social web goes much further: it lets you engage with prospects, because you can discover who you need to engage with – influencers, prospects, pundits or policy makers – and influence the conversation at multiple levels in real-time, working your message to ensure its relevance to the right audiences. More on social pre-sales intelligence here.

I don’t know your company’s reputation

Influencer programs built on earned media models help you build an authentic reputation, based on the value you create and provide your customers in the market, and the content those influencers develop and publish for their audiences. Use today’s real-time social analytics technology to identify and map those influencers who are active on topics of relevance to your prospects and customers: in short, analyse their social personae and map these to your audiences.

The result? You can map those you want to sell to, to those who influence them.

Now – what was it you wanted to sell me?

You no longer ever need to be asked this question – because, using the social web, you’ve identified consumers actively talking about needs you can meet.

Better-still, you can identify who in the social web is talking about your company’s products and services explicitly.

Down to the individual.

Mapped to your existing CRM data if you wish.

You now market, engage and sell in a world in which you can ask the question, “How can I help you, with the needs you have and the preferences you’ve expressed?”

What’s more, you can ask this question of the right individuals, for the right reasons, about the right topics, at the best-possible moment.

A much-better position, built on mutual trust, personalized engagement, data-driven insights, and real-time analysis.

As the man in the chair might now say, let’s talk.

(Illustration source: Copyrights acknowledged.)

Alan Smith: Alan is Head of Customer Engagement at DIGIVIZER.