Selling Social to Local Businesses

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I immigrated to Canada a couple years ago and recently purchased a car — my first! As a first-time buyer, imagine when I heard this from a car dealer:

This car has 184 hp @ 5,700RPM, 16 valves and a torque of 185 lb.-ft. @ 3,250RPM. It’s an amazing, powerful vehicle for your needs.

I was thinking, “I just need a reliable car to get me around the city.”

If you’re trying to sell social by talking the language of social media, you’re potentially doing the same thing to your prospects. Every small business owner knows the value of managing your social presence just like I know the value of a car (especially in winter), but they don’t necessarily have the time to know everything.

What about online directories and review sites?

They are essential for local search as well as online reputation. But for a traditional small business owner who doesn’t know much about online marketing, that statement means absolutely nothing.

The key issue

Most of the established local business owners didn’t grow up with social media. Their business didn’t require constant online interaction with their audience, neither did it require keeping them “engaged” by sharing interesting content on a blog or social network.

All they ever needed to do was call the yellow page company, the radio station, or a local newspaper and those companies would take care of the rest.

How do you sell a digital platform to this audience?

If you just throw another piece of software at them as a silver bullet, it will not work. Asking someone without knowledge of social media to do it themselves is like giving someone the key to the radio station and asking them to run their own ad.

Just see how many local businesses have social media pages with nothing on them!.

Instead, these are the kind of parallels that work well during a sales pitch:

  1. How social media works in terms of customer service
  2. How you can get real-time leads on Twitter
  3. How reviews are analogous to word of mouth and how to maximize it
  4. How social presence and online directories tie in with the way people search for local businesses on mobile phones
Start small

Once you’ve explained to them how social works in words they understand, the key is not to overwhelm them with 50 different things they need to do right off the bat.

Start small. As a first phase, explain to them how your digital solution will help them get started on social and get their presence fixed on key directories. Get them started with a few leads a week.

Once that is accomplished, build upon that success to sell more. While you gradually expand your relationship with them, remember that having an integrated solution is key — over 70% of businesses prefer having a single point of contact for sales and service.

(Image courtesy of Michael Holden)