Following on from last week’s thoughts, I have been wondering whether digital technology has reduced the need of those within SMEs to be able to sell. The thought stream sometimes seems to be that if you put yourself out on social media enough then business will flow in. Is this true or false?
Certainly, having a social media presence is beneficial to your brand. I often mention the “Pelagonia” brand in this context. Philip spent several months building up a social media following for this new brand, based in Macedonia, well before there was a single jar of aivar in the UK. Developing a low level of brand awareness this way definitely helped our sales team to sell the products after we launched. Notice the word “help” in that last sentence, the social media presence was not a substitute for selling but a help to selling.
We see many start-ups here at Cotswold Fayre and one of the common questions we ask in helping us make our decision to list is, “How many shops are you supplying with your products at present?”. You would be amazed at the answers. Sometimes start-ups of two years old are in only 20-30 retailers. How can this be true? In the early days of Cotswold Fayre I used to set myself a target of gaining 4 new customers a day for the first few products in the range. At that rate in 5 days I would achieve as much as they have achieved in 2 years! Granted the market was much younger and the competition much less, but even so!?
“But, I have 2,000 followers on Twitter, and 6,000 on Facebook”, they may cry! Followers do not make any money though unless they are buying product. I am not a social media luddite, and often find it a useful way of contacting buyers who are not reachable in other ways, but I know, through my own experience that there is no substitute for face-to-face sales. Producing a huge digital catalogue/library and having an active digital campaign will achieve something for you, but the benefit will be massively enhanced if it is combined with good old-school sales activity.