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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

5 Nitty-Gritty Social Trends That Impact Sales

Day in and day out, you put products or services in front of prospects. You may be starting to notice that it’s tougher to close the deals you really want. 

Perhaps that’s because you‘re relying on a few tactics that no longer have currency in the digital culture. 

When your team reports back that they lost a huge sale to a more “socialized” competitor, it’s a wake-up call.

No matter what kind of enterprise you are in—whether you are running a manufacturing business, a brewery, or an art gallery, an over reliance on a few traditional brand tools—brochures, trade show booths, trinkets—may be holding you back. 

You can turn that around. By paying attention to a few social trends, you’ll gain a fresh look into the kind of sales communications that get you closer to your customer.
Here are the five questions to ask right up front. 

1. Interaction Trends: Which networks are prospects actively using? 
Do they engage on Twitter, LinkedIn, or do they blog? Knowing where your prospects are congregating and sharing is the first step to any social selling strategy. Just by checking out their media profiles, you can start following, listening, and connecting.

2. Design Trends: Does your web designer know your sales objectives? 
Seems like a crazy question, I know. But developers have notoriously upheld design aesthetics at the expense of commerce. It’s a false compromise. The very best designers working today build websites that ease the customer journey online, on any device. Make sure your web designer knows your business objectives, as well as your brand preferences, and can translate them into landing pages and offers that invite and delight.

3. Content Trends: What kind of topics do our prospects crave? 
We often find when sitting down with clients they have a wealth of valuable knowledge about their industry. Use it, we tell them. Here’s how: Make a list and cull through your industry insights. Next, try following your top prospects to spot-trending topics. Then create content that ties your expertise to material they value. Push it out through your website as a download to capture leads, and socialize it through networks and across employees. Keep in mind that great content trumps any platform. We’ve seen clients master just a few networks and have great success generating interest with the right messaging.

4. User Experience Trends: How do people experience us online? 
Your website is the jewel in your crown. Jennifer Polk, research director at Gartner Research and digital expert explains, “A company’s website is still its most valuable digital asset.” Treat your website like an organic asset that benefits from an annual checkup and steady care. Checking monthly traffic reports using Google Analytics or HootSuite will make sure it’s breathing life into your brand. Here’s how: Assign someone on your team, or better yet recruit a trusted third party, to take the customer journey online and note awkward spots, dead links, and mind-numbing use of jargon. Molly Wolfberg at HubSpot offers these handy how-tos for usability testing, http://dev.hubspot.com/blog/how-to-do-usability-testing-at-a-fast-paced-company.

5. Wider World Trends: What aren’t we seeing? 
Look outward. Sheryl Connelly, a futurist at Ford Motor Company, believes that SWOT analysis is a lagging indicator. “When trying to get people within the organization to think about the future, I like to help them see long-term trends that have major implications for our growth.” Focusing on what we know keeps us in a recursive loop of rumination. Fresh insights can break things open. Action ideas: Host a trend slam at the office inviting teams to pitch in trends they’re spotting. Distill the answers. Better yet, organize a trend-spotting forum for influencers, clients, and prospects at your next industry gathering. We’ve witnessed remarkable relationships form when people deep dive together. Oh, and assign someone to listen to unmet needs.
***
The future is closer than you think. Consider that Millennial professionals will soon be your buyers. Engaging prospects in the social sphere will help you find, listen to, and relate to your prospects so that you’re not just thinking about the future—you’re creating it. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Future of Voting--Millennials and Politics

Who will lead next? My team compiled this handy infographic that points the way. It's the hand out for a non-partisan policy retreat I'll be speaking at next month. Hard to see? Go here and download the PDF.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Trending: Millennials Still A Moving Target

The behaviors and preferences of Millennials fascinate us because they are the future. Lately, we're paying close attention to what they adopt and shed to see more enduring trends to separate fad from frontier.

Millennials appear to shed a channel or platform that becomes too intrusive, too commercial or just too clumsy to use. Ease and freedom rule. Branded environments need to offer special incentives or utility. Facebook is losing Millennials. Twitter is keeping them.   AirBnB and Cowbird are growing them. Vine micro-videos get shared by GenY, but not produced nearly as often.

This snappy info graphic from last year is like a "Where's Waldo?" of the Millennial adoption curve. See if you can spot what's still trending and what's been shed.

OMG: Getting Inside the Millennial Mind
by threestepsahead.
Explore more infographics like this one on the web's largest information design community - Visually.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Best Stories from the Web

We spent most of February buried by snow storms. But it gave us plenty of time to read. Here's our list of favorites articles from last month: 

The Brain’s Inner Language
--Includes a round up of innovations in brain research, and paints a picture of how collaborative efforts will improve our understanding of how neurons process visual information. The implications are far-reaching. Quick read.
Artist Uses Google Glass to Interact with Museum Visitors
--Raise your hand if you want to live in augmented reality. I do. Through the lens of Google Glass an art museum goes meta. Very cool.
Big Data, Big Business, Big Brother? --Our fellow “futurist” Gerd Lionhard offers his take on some of the memes and implications of big data for marketers.

Happiness Is a Warm iPhone
--A bittersweet rif by Charles Yu who reflects on how technology is changing our humanity as it becomes more accessible and more mundane.

The Science of Solitary Confinement
--Although the science of human connection has long been under-valued, this story helps us appreciate what happens in the absence of it. A quick take on the effects of long-term isolation on inmates in U.S. prisons.
Publishers Withdraw More than 120 Gibberish Papers In an age of link farms and faux content, it’s not surprising that computer-generated nonsense can be published so easily in conference proceedings.

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