Integration more than just a social media term

One of the buzzwords attached to social media is “integration”. We’re constantly told how important it is to “integrate” our efforts but in a practical sense what does that mean? It means we need to write complementary not contradictory posts, updates and tweets. In other words, one hand has to know what the other is doing.

Have you ever written a post only to find out too late that you wrote a very similar one a few days ago you’d completely forgotten about? (Guilty as charged your honour.)

Integration has become a key word in social media marketing, but how much integration is going on in the marketing efforts of most small businesses? In the experience of Matthew Mewse, the Telephone Man, and myself – not a lot! Time and time again, we find that one department or division doesn’t know what another is doing. Customers will receive calls that promote a particular product or service but the material sent out in response to the customer’s request bears no relation to the call, or simply doesn’t answer the customer’s questions. Often they receive generic marketing material that could be used in any marketing campaign. Result? No sale.

Integration between sales calls and written sales material is essential. It’s one of the ways you develop a relationship between the customer and your business. Social media isn’t the only way to do this – businesses also need solid, everyday communication that shows customers you care. (You do, don’t you?)

Because where that communication is lacking, customers will go elsewhere. For instance, you’re standing in a queue in a shop waiting to make your purchase while the sales assistant attends to something trivial that could easily wait until later (like a personal phone call). Result – you walk away without the item you wanted to buy.

You call a company only to be left on hold listening to endless repetitions of “your call is important to us” and Shona Laing moaning about not being a Kennedy. Result – you give up before your call is even connected.

You try to make an online transaction only to be dumped off the page every time you get to the same question, because your particular circumstance doesn’t fit the rigidly defined form. Result – you can’t finish what you set out to do.

There’s another result, too. You’re also frustrated, annoyed and really want to take your business elsewhere. If you’re really disgruntled, you’ll take your ire online, maybe even setting up a Facebook page about it. Then, not only are you an ex-customer, other people might become exes as well. Definitely not good for business!

This disconnect between what your customer wants and expects, and what your business is providing is called “minimising your sales”. And that’s precisely what you’re doing when you’re not paying attention to the way you interact with your customer.

It may be something as simple as a form that’s convoluted and time-consuming. It may be the person answering your phone who is not warm and pleasant. It may be the material sent to your customers which is not relevant to their needs.

If you’re in business, think what it would take to stop minimising your sales, and instead “super size your sales” by ensuring that all your marketing efforts are integrated.

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