Like many other business owners, I’ve had plenty of proposals rejected on price. And like those other businesses, I know that there will always be someone less expensive than me out there, and there are plenty that cost a whole heck of a lot more. I tend not to focus on these losses as losses at all. I know in my heart that they’ll get what they pay for, and of course that I’m worth every penny (solid recommendations and testimonials will prove it).
However, today I hung up with a friend who was pitching me to a senior partner at his company. He wanted to give me the inside scoop on what was happening. Apparently, management had gotten a bid from another vendor who came in about 30% lower than I did and, in his words, “offered the same exact service. It was an apples to apples comparison.” As he was my friend, he answered my questions about the competitor. “They’re our web site development company,” was the response. I questioned the qualifications of this company; it’s difficult to be in the graphic design/web engineering field and also in the copywriting/social media marketing field, unless they’re a larger, full-service agency. I couldn’t find anything substantial about social media services on their web site (though their site design portfolio rocked), so I headed to this company’s Facebook and Twitter profiles to see what they were up to.
My discovery? They had no profile image on their Facebook page other than a logo, their posts were infrequent, and every other one had typos. I went to Twitter and was even more shocked to discover that in the past five months they had only tweeted a dozen times, and each tweet was a sales message about their own services. The icing on the cake? They only had 16 Twitter followers.
Now I KNOW that social media is a new world, and it’s hard as a business owner to even understand the language, let alone know what questions to ask. But what my friend thought was an “apples to apples” comparison was not one, in any stretch of the imagination. My gift to my friend and to you, a busy business owner with little time to do research, is a list of questions to ask social media strategists and service providers, BEFORE you sign the dotted line and questions to ask yourself during the campaign once they’ve started working for you:
1. Is your background technical, design, marketing, or copywriting?
2. What social networks do you think I should be on, and why?
3. What would your goals be for my social media campaign?
4. How often will you post on each of those platforms?
5. When might I expect those posts to happen each day?
6. From where will you get content?
7. Can you give me a few samples of posts you might use?
The answers you receive will help you determine a few things. A, if they know what they’re doing. B, if they are marketers or technologists. C, if they understand the platforms they are using to promote your business, and D, how they compare to other service providers. Most importantly, you’ll illustrate that you know a thing or two about social media.
Here’s the other gift. Once you’ve gotten your consultant posting for your company, ask yourself these questions:
1. How’s the messaging online?
2. Do the posts have publicity/share-ability built into that?
3. Is there original content from your company on the social networks?
4. Is there sharing of others’ content?
5. Are you/ your company being positioned as an expert?
6. Are the profiles optimized for the search engines?
7. Are contacts being converted into sales and inquiries?
8. Are the posts generating good feedback numbers and high impressions?
9. Is traffic increasing to your site, services, and products every month on a consistent basis?
I know I’m good at what I do; my clients tell me so. And I also know that budgets are real and everyone wants a fair deal. As far as that other proposal goes that my friend received, clearly he’d be overpaying at that price, even though it was 30% less than mine.
Take those questions to your proposal reviews. I have several clients that have come to me after rejecting my proposal and hiring another team to do the work based on price. The difference that they discovered immediately upon engaging my services made them regretful that they had turned me down in the first place.
Does this mean that I’m the answer for you? Not necessarily. But I’m a righteous chick, and I want you to get a fair deal, no matter who you hire. And you can always reach out to me for advice or with questions. Let me see what you’ve got going on. You already know you get what you pay for, but you may get more if you ask the right questions.
We all need a break once in a while, but your social media strategy really ought to be contuing even if you’re on the other side of the world, feet in the sand, drink in your hand. But if the rest of the social media world goes on without you, how do you not skip a beat? Well with a little planning and some free ninja-trick application shopping, you’re good to go!
Step 1: APPLICATION SHOPPING: If you’re not in on this secret, you’re just going to love me! Did you know there are web-based social media management applications that allow you to not only permanently search and monitor your industry within social media platforms and post from there, but that also allow you to schedule your posts, tweets, status updates, etc. for a future date and time? There are some that are free and others with fantastic analytics capabilities that you’ll appreciate for sure with a price tag attached. My two favorites are HootSuite (free) and Objective Marketer (fee-based). Once you find one you like, sign up and play!
Step 2: POST PLANNING: While of course your posting strategy is always mapped out in advance (isn’t it?), a few days before your bags are packed, plan out the types of tweets and updates you would post if you weren’t going away. Consider what is happening at your company, in the industry, or promotions you have going on. Here are some examples for a local business owner vacationing July 3 – July 10:
Day one- 1 fun store happening post
Day two- 1 holiday message/office hours
Day three- 1 promo reminder
1 funny staff member quote
Day four- 1 how-to link
1 industry bite
Day five- 1 promo reminder, etc. etc.
Day one- 2 local happenings posts
4 following re-tweets
Day two- 3 holiday info re-tweets
Day three- 1 promo reminder
2 industry content links
4 re-tweets, etc., etc.
Step 3: SETUP, SEARCH, and SCHEDULE:
Log in to your chosen social media management app for your vacation posting. Start typing up your originally-authored posts and schedule accordingly throughout the vacation week. Remember not to neglect any of the networks you are active on, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, Ping, etc. You can even automate your WordPress blog posts and Foursquare updates with HootSuite.
Most apps have a search box for industry content posts and retweets. Simply search on a phrase and all recent posts with that phrase will show in a column (that you can—and should—make it a permanent search column if it’s relative to your business). Select content you want to share and schedule it! Select tweets to re-tweet and then schedule each one!
While this strategy is fantastic for keeping your business in the loop and staying in the newsfeeds of your followers, it’s a good idea to take a peek at your notifications halfway through your trip or ASAP when you return to make sure you don’t let any un-responded-to engagement opportunities slip past you.