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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Competition "Social Network Style"

What is your social strategy? Do you have a social strategy? There are many ways  to start your social campaign, but really only one that will work, yours. There are a few models I have seen lately,

It is said that Burger King does not do extensive location research, and just plops a new Burger King next to a McDonalds. Micky D's does all the work and BK's copies.  Imitation IS the highest form of flattery, and being first to market costs money. But being first, and tailoring your strategy to your end goal is like a custom fit suit. Sure, the guy down the street can buy Armani after you do, but if he doesn't get it tailored, he might as well have gone to the Salvation Army and picked something up there. I have seen many of my competitors copy what we do, for me it's a symbol and alarm to change and find something new to do.  New ideas have a shelf life, and although they do things differently than you do, because they didn't create it, it will not last too long.

I'll just say it now - bad mouthing is a way to compete that is well used. Digs in tweets, back handed status updates, but do they really help?  I am no Pollyanna, and taking the higher road is a tough one some times. People are not always honest, nice and some don't have any good will in their body. It's amazing as a bystander to watch people latch to the dynamic person, constantly flattering them and you know otherwise. I will tell you one thing from my short tenure in a small town. No one cares what your opinion really is, trust me. They want to be fluffed and folded and loved. Keep your slander to a minimum, it's ugly and will bite you in the butt one day.

This is my personal favorite.  It's positive, it's community building, it's good for the local economy.  The one thing you have to keep in mind when you are using this strategy, is making sure that you both (or more) benefit from the marketing program.  If you do, you will see your referrals go straight through the roof.  Think about it, if I always win from a referral to my next door neighbor, then I am very likely to do it, and they will reciprocate - it's a constant reminder that right around your corner, there are businesses to support.

Let's think of some ways to make this work.  I have a wine bar, and there is a bakery across the street. We both do catering, and work with weddings.  Every time I do a quote, I offer the bakery's services and products as add ons to our package. We hope that they do the same, but I am pretty sure that he hasn't thought about it in the same way - it's an unbalanced relationship.  Now down the street, there is a new bar. They have food as well and are the biggest newest thing - they not only give no corkage fee to people who buy wine at our place and bring it there, but they refer people when there is a line.  We in turn take calls when tables are available, and refer people there for after hours.  It's much more reciprocal, and stops the "wars" that people try to start between businesses.  It's like they want us to fight, but we don't. I spend time going there in my off hours.  It's as good as two competitive businesses are going to get, and I think it's the right thing to do. But how can we apply it in Social Media? I check in there every time I go, and share it with our followers. I link to their pages on our town page that I manage, and suggest it to people as a tip when they check in.  I will start working with them for reciprocal ideas.

Can you think of businesses that you can work with on your street? In your area?  Share your experiences - I can always learn more!