I LOVE marketing and tend to think in marketing terms all the time, which is problematic in a romantic relationship.
Me (at baseball game): Look at that billboard for hotdogs in right field. If it asked you to Tweet, could we all be tweeting to each other during the ballgame? Could I get a coupon for a hotdog on my cellphone? Could I tweet-redeem it?
Wife: Please shut up.
So my passion for marketing knows no bounds. That’s why I get so upset when so-called professionals make statements like this in a recent blog post: “social media should be at the heart of every company’s marketing strategy.”
Repeat after me: Not all companies and products can equally benefit from social media. (Did you really repeat it? You did? Cool!) Consider …
  • If you’re a company trying to sell wheels to GM right now, you’re not going to Twitter your way to success and should be fired if you try to.
  • If you’re selling fertilizer to farmers in Lake County Wisconsin, you will probably benefit from a billboard along the interstate more than an account on Facebook.
  • My local family-run homebuilder is going out of business because of this recession and could give a rat’s patooty about social media. He needs to focus his strategy on cash conservation and making it to the other side, not a how-to video on YouTube.
  • When I go to Home Depot, I am going to buy my sandpaper based on what I need to complete my project at the lowest price, not because the company president has a blog.
Sometimes I think Twitters believe everybody on Twitter is the known universe. That is not the real world, at least not yet. I know it’s hard to believe but MOST people sell stuff to other people who have never heard of MySpace.
So, let’s insert some rationality into the discussion. Most major consumer product companies will benefit from social media. Most B2B — less certain results and they probably won’t focus on this channel until the economy improves. Services aimed at youth — yes; services aimed at geriatrics, no. Businesses who live by couponing – yes. Businesses who live by long-term contracts, not so much.
To the purveyors of social media hyperbole, I humbly request that you dust off your textbook from Marketing 101. The channels have changed but the same rules apply. Stay connected to the basic rules of business when considering any marketing channels. Somehow, you have to figure out how to drive this activity to the bottom line.

As I mentioned in my B2B series last week, many businesses, even traditional industrials, will benefit from a dose of social media community-building. But please gentle readers, join me in resisting the breathless enthusiasm that already created one Internet bust. Social media marketing is ONE CHANNEL, ONE CHOICE, ONE OPTION for SOME businesses.

And by the way, I would definitely buy that hotdog if I got a Twitter coupon. Then my sweetie would understand!
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