Friday May 10, 2013

Social Marketing Secrets from My Parking Problem

booted carAs marketers, and specifically as social marketers, we’re often guilty of not putting ourselves in the shoes of the consumer. As masters of over-thinking, we work feverishly to figure out what will “work” with our target market, without ever stopping to think about what works on us.

That’s right, we’re not only marketers, we’re consumers too. We are somebody’s target. Does it not follow logically then that the kinds of things that are effective on you might also be effective on your brand’s audience? That your desires, reactions and behaviors might also be theirs?

I was reminded of this when I recently had a (gasp) positive and effective experience being marketed to. It wasn’t social. In fact it was quite guerilla and old school. But it holds core lessons for social strategy.

I’ve been paying daily to park in a lot with an “in by 9am” rate. Problems include spaces sometimes not being available and the price going up to $20 on days when events were happening downtown. There’s no in and out, so I can’t leave for lunch and come back without paying again. And it’s not covered parking, so everything from the summer sun to inconsiderate birds wreck their havoc.

Then the daily rate went up. That’s when I started getting cards on my windshield, something that normally makes me quite irate. But…the card was about a special $50/month deal in a nearby parking deck. Brilliant!

Here’s a business that knew what area competitors were doing, identified a resulting pain point for the competition’s customers, offered a proposition of real value that spoke to that pain point, and presented it at exactly the time and place where the pain was most top of mind. Score.

I assumed the special $50 rate was for one or two introductory months. But when I emailed that question to the deck, they responded (right away) that the rate was good for as long as I renewed. Game-Set-Match. Guess who had me as a customer but lost me. Guess who won my business, has me feeling good about their brand and telling this story.

All of the elements of this success are available to you via the social-enabled enterprise. With an integrated platform you can do (at scale with marketing automation encompassing paid, owned and earned) what my parking deck did; watch the competition to see if they’re giving you an opportunity, listen to potential customers who post their desires, deliver your proposition of real value to them when and where it will be best received, respond quickly and positively to potential customer inquiries, and leverage opportunities for customers to share with friends how happy they are with you.

See? You had the secret to effective social marketing with you all along.

@mikestiles
Photo: Samuel Rosa, stock.xchng

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