Social Media and Sales Promotion

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from 30 Days to Social Media Success

All sales take place within a community of some kind. That may be a small town, a big city, a region, a country or the global marketplace, but the community is an essential part of the sales process.

Sales occur because the buyer perceives an urgent need. Sales promotion can’t create that need, but it can stoke the sense of urgency, and it can overcome objections by making it easy to buy under very favorable terms.

    Social media offers powerful new ways to provide unique promotions to your friends, fans and followers. You can create special sales or packages just for your social media audience, and get feedback from customers and prospects on what kinds of sales or promotional offers they’d most like to receive. You can also use social media to create incentives for your online friends, fans and followers to become your virtual sales force and help you spread the word.

The power of promotion

Everyone loves to be “in the know.” People are attracted by the opportunity to be a VIP and to be inside the inner circle, receiving special benefits not available to everyone. Social media creates a new way to offer coupons, discounts and advance information on sales and specials to the people who have become your online friends, fans and followers. By combining the best features of opt-in email marketing and direct response mailings (without the cost of postage), social media promotion can augment your existing promotional strategy and win a loyal following.

One form of social media sales promotion is the rise of web sites (with internal social media components like blogging and Tweeting) that help customers shop for bargains by maximizing their use of coupons. Sites like teach shoppers how to get the best value for their grocery dollar while sharing coupons and strategies to reduce costs. These sites create loyal followings and also provide rich territory for marketers to find out sales and product preferences.

If you offer daily or weekly specials, use social media to let your friends and followers know. Tweet about your flavor of the day or about special pricing on limited-quantity items. Blog about upcoming sales with an insider’s eye toward getting maximum shopping value. Provide real user benefit by helping shoppers learn how to get better value and stretch their dollars by sharing savvy shopping strategies.

Build on the tried-and-true idea of a VIP membership with social media. Create a Facebook or Twitter page around your VIP specials. Sure, everyone can read the page, but only your VIPs get the specials, creating “results envy” and encouraging non-members to join the club. Or, create your own membership site for your VIPs with a .Ning site. If you have a VIP area on your web site, add a blog, photos and web video. You can even encourage your members to send photos or video of themselves as testimonials.

If you sell from your web site, Tweet, blog and post to your social media site as soon as new items are uploaded to your online store. Offer special deals for buyers who shop within the first few hours after a new product is put online. Create early-bird specials that you publicize only on social media to increase the interest in being your social media friend.

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