June 20, 2019

Communicating with customers and prospects are spanning to wider applications. Just calling a phone number is no longer enough. As customers are more aware of their options, they want more robust and agile services and the content of your message needs to be multifaceted and provide value.

In comes social selling, using your brand and message to listen and engage with decision makers and consumers on social media to answer questions they search for. Now your salespeople need to be digitally minded and use your brand on social to connect, reach and grow the right community, insights and connections.

Your Brand Helps You Stand Out

Nothing really has changed about the importance of branding. The game is the same; just the rules keep evolving. Perception is everything when it comes to your publication value in the eyes of the reader. You can train and equip your sales team to use best practices and respond timely to all questions and needs; but if you brand does not built the right and trustworthy perception, your team will reach a cap at their efforts.

There are some important areas to consider to work on your branding, which is not just designing a new logo or website. Those are helpful to provide a visualization for your readers, changes have happened. But you also need to offer tangible options to close the gap of your brand perception.

One option is looking at your service levels and packages. There may be areas you no longer need to offer, combine options into one, while other areas you need to develop and grow. You can differentiate your brand to provide a higher level of service by analyzing how your customers and readers value that option. This will become easily identified by looking at customer service comments, and listening to your sales team commenting on their daily interactions. Also looking at a heat map of your website and analytics, looking at areas that draw more browsers to click. Your services can present a tiered approach, based on the frequency and amount of services used. Even if it means creating a services that a handful will use; this can in time create a niche not thought of before.

Many consumers are driven to get a more premium access to services that are a necessity. Perhaps a more sophisticated service level can include dedicated phone lines and personnel for annual print or digital service holders versus shorter term. The focus is on a more personalized and premium service as a value added introductory component. Especially when it comes to dedicated personnel or account managers, equipping your team with staff closely familiar with accounts, and have easy access to all details add value to your brand. Personalization does not come only in marketing communication, but in other service areas as well.

Provide Information, Not Sales Pitches

While branding is all about providing the service and value, another aspect of social selling is generating content that educate and not sell. We can see this play out with a lot of digital advertising and their perception as unnecessary noise by many consumers. The best way social and value-based selling works is starting off as an educator. To build trust and get engagement your brand needs to become the approachable expert in published local or national news.

Freely answer questions that affect your local audience, while discussing the challenges of industries, as well as relevant international topics that might not be your regular focus. Sharing knowledge that many might not think of but would raise interest, without promoted content can instill confidence that this independent sharing and encourage for repeat visits. This helps build online social relationships. Let’s be honest, most people come to your website to read your quick comments on political issues or sports results but there is no guarantee they come back again. They are looking for answers, gathering options, ideas, stories and shaping their perspective for what is right for them. So mainly focus on providing your content in the most convenient and helpful way as possible.

But let’s also be real, you have to build your services and team to be better than your competition. To be better does not mean you need a big team or revamp everything from scratch. This means you have to make those specific tweaks on your website that make sure your profile actually shows up when your readers are looking for expertise and information. Maybe you hire part time social media gurus; summer student interns that would love to get their hands to test and try things. So in time, your readers will see you as a valuable contact and option in their daily browsing.

Some small changes in how your profiles are viewed online; maybe that very long ‘About Us’ page can be more visual about your staff and the new interesting topics you cover seasonally. Adding some valuable details about your editor and writers backgrounds and links to popular articles they have written, will help present you as a credible publisher who has shared and will continue to contribute valuable insights for your local audience. Try to make sure you have a consistent tone across all your print and online platforms.