When it comes to providing quality content to your online community, you don’t need to be an expert, and you don’t need to be personally responsible for creating new ideas. You need only to be skilled at redistributing information produced by others to those who follow you. To illustrate how this process works, consider a common traditional selling model:
Both of your authors have worked in the past with distribution-based industries and their sales forces. There are many variations of this selling channel, but in almost all cases the relationships involve manufacturers that produce goods which are then sold through distributors; this is simply an alternative to selling directly through an internally-housed sales force. The distributor companies who represent the manufacturer are usually independent, privately-owned businesses who are licensed to sell the manufacturer’s goods and services in a defined territory. The distributor company buys inventory from the manufacturer and then re-sells (distributes) that inventory to customers within its defined markets.
As a Value Generator, your marketing process works in exactly the same way. The goods and services (content) that you provide to your online community/defined market are ‘manufactured’ by anyone and everyone on the internet who is writing about information that is of interest to your followers. You get your ‘inventory’ from these manufacturing sources via RSS feeds – for free, of course – and then you distribute the best of that inventory to the customers and prospects who are following you within your online community.
This defines your role as a Value Generator to your online community as one of a distributor of content, and not, unless you choose to be one, a manufacturer of it. You will review relevant information online from those ‘manufacturers’ that interest you and your job will then be to evaluate this information, select items of interest to your followers, and, with a single click of your mouse, deliver it to every single one of them. The benefits to you are not only free; they are myriad and profound. By redistributing useful content to your online followers, you will build your own bridge of ‘know, like and trust’ with your online community. You will establish your brand as a thought leader and expert. You will receive an invaluable, free education in aspects of your industry from others in the business whose knowledge you do not currently possess. And, best of all, when the buyers – both existing customers and prospects – in your community have a need for what you sell, they are going to contact you because they buy, like all buyers do, based on familiarity. You are seen as the go-to source for value, and you are viewed as the option that presents the least risk.
Utilizing social media in this way would certainly would be time-consuming… if we were suggesting that you spend hours on Google or one of the other search-engines, continually typing in keywords and scouring the Internet for articles and information that would be useful to your online community. That is how you currently research information for yourself, right? And now you think that we are asking you to do the same thing for the benefit of your customers and prospects. Think again.
Let’s go back to the distribution sales model for a moment. A distributor who sells for manufacturers does not go out into the marketplace every day looking for suppliers with product to sell. Rather, they have ongoing relationships with the manufacturers that they have chosen to work with, and those manufacturing partners supply the distributor with the product that they need to then provide to their end-user customers. The distributor doesn’t have to go looking for inventory; inventory is provided to them by their selected manufacturing partners.
As a distributor of online content, the technology is readily available to provide you with exactly the same kind of relationship, and service, that the traditional distributor gets from his manufacturers. With just a few simple steps on your computer, the online “manufacturers” (content producers) that you choose to partner with (follow) will deliver an endless supply of free, high-quality product (content) that you can then review and distribute to your end-users as you see fit. In other words, after some initial set-up work, no searching on your part is necessary; everything that you need will be delivered to your inbox the moment that it is produced.
Excerpted from my new book, The Social Media Sales Revolution. Released this summer by McGraw-Hill and now available for pre-order on Amazon. Click here to order: http://www.amazon.com/Social-Media-Sales-Revolution-Relationships/dp/0071768505/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1306853961&sr=1-1
Landy Chase, MBA, CSP is an expert who specializes in speaking to corporations and associations on sales and selling with social media. His last book, Competitive Selling, was named an Editors Choice Best Business Books of 2010 selection and is also available on amazon.com. To book Landy for your next sales meeting or conference, visit his website at www.sellingrevolution.com or call (800) 370-8026.