I had a conversation recently with my son Hal, President of BuzzBuilderz, our Social Marketing Company.
He had just met with a Commercial real estate broker about using Social Networking as part of their marketing plan. Hal had explained to him the benefits of building an on-line identity, acquiring a good reputation, and developing trust in the online communities to develop a base of potential investors for them to do business with. The Broker’s first question was “What’s the ROI?”
Hal explained to him that marketing is not an income producing activity, and that there is no direct, calculable return on investment for building a brand or exposing your self to a larger group of potential customers and clients. He also pointed out that the company’s present direct marketing strategy – targeted direct mail – could only reach people that the company already knew, while building an online presence exposed to the company to the much larger universe of people that the company had not yet met.
The Broker still didn’t seem to “get it”, and though he was sending out direct mail to only 600 people per month, created, stuffed, and mailed by his associates (who surely could have been doing something more productive) at a hard cost of at least $900 per mailing, the idea of using free internet exposure, was not, by itself attractive enough for him to consider.
Since you’re reading my Blog, it seems almost like cheating to ask you for your opinion – obviously the social aspect of the Internet has not been lost on you. But I thought all salespeople understood that buyers and sellers want to do business with people that they trust. And that they also trusted people they meet in non-sales situations more than they trust people they meet in the middle of a sales pitch. Press Releases trump advertising, and Social Networks trump press releases in the hierarchy of the consumers trust.
Me, I don’t have any calculate ROI on my Social networking, but I have met some great people, reviewed some interesting opportunities, been hired as a consultant a few times, and even had a couple of buyers and sellers contact me directly. And all of that while I was enjoying myself meeting new people, being exposed to new ideas and tools, and not having to lick a single stamp!