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Glass Houses

Glass Houses

Mike Johnson and I had a chance to connect at the J&M Café recently for coffee and a great chat. We talked of many things but, as is our wont, we eventually turned to how we can help our clients better market themselves both in the physical world and online. We were exploring the role of Social Media in promoting businesses, and had something of a revelation: Social Media turns corporate walls transparent.

We all tend to think of companies as monolithic behemoths, faceless messages written by committees spewing from loudspeakers. Of course, corporations are made up of people, just like you and me. People make the policies, people make the decisions, in the end people are what make things happen whether good or bad.

As every kid with a lemonade stand knows, you sell more lemonade to friends, neighbors, and relatives than to strangers. The same is true for cars, hardware, computers… everything! That's the goal of branding: create a more positive feeling for your product or service, create a desire for a customer to return to you because they have a connection, to make friends of your clients.

Marketing is changing in the 21st century. We consumers are resisting having irrelevant messages pushed at us and we have the tools to significantly reduce that
outbound marketing. We want to seek out information and products and we want to have a more personal interaction with those we patronize. We want to see, talk to, and really get to know "the man behind the curtain." We talk to our digital friends about the service we get, product quality, problems we had with companies. If a business wants to survive in the new world, it must engage. It must pull down the curtain and engage their clients on a personal level. They must turn their walls to glass so we can see the humanity of the organization.

As business owners and advisors, we have the tools to accomplish this - with more arriving every day. Facebook, twitter, and LinkedIn (*) provide us the ability to connect and interact with our community as well as tools to monitor what's being said about us and proactively join those conversations. The biggest obstacles aren't technological ones, but rather mindset limitations. The successful companies of the past were the ones that were able to adapt to changes as they presented themselves. The winners of tomorrow will be the ones that best adapt to the changes of today.

So what's the takeaway?

  1. Not only do you need to start a social media program for your company, you need to make it part of the company's DNA.
  2. You need to learn to recognize and react to the little trends of today, because they will be the rules of the game tomorrow, and finally:
  3. Your operation needs to reveal the humanity within. It needs to tear down the curtains and install glass walls. Make more connections, make more friends, sell more lemonade!

*Google+ may eventually open up to businesses, but as of now we've been shut out.