Recently I was sitting with a client discussing some social media marketing strategies for the next few months. She owns a professional catering company with a pretty impressive client portfolio (lots of well known companies). Their growth has been pretty exciting. “I remember when we started out, feeling intimidated by organizing an event with twenty people,” she recalls. “Now, feeding 250 people or more is a drop in the bucket.”
There is something to be learned from that statement about stepping out one’s comfort zone, which she is learning to do more of when it comes to marketing. To continue a controlled growth, they still need to spread the word. Building their website and updating some marketing tools is just one step. Developing a core message and strategy for consistent activity will be ongoing. This is crucial when using social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. But the real question that was on her mind: “What do I talk about?”
Indeed, in her business, there is plenty to talk about. Their expertise aside, stories abound of the drama that can go on behind the scenes of a professionally catered event—all to the blissful ignorance of those partaking in the grand meal. But as we were speaking about creating opportunities to grow awareness in both business and consumer settings, a thought occurred to me.
“Show me your calendar,” I said.
She pulled it out and I looked at the activity planned for the next several months. And there was plenty of it.
It was a mixture of business and private events (probably two-thirds business). The companies included many recognizable names.
Which leads me to share another opportunity for social media marketing and prospect engagement: As you explore new opportunities to tell your story and engage prospects, do not overlook an opportunity that may be right in front of you: To tell others about what you do, tell them about what you’re doing.
We’ve referred to the calendar as a valuable tool for planning our marketing (in the form of an editorial calendar), but your working calendar can actually become a marketing tool itself, when used correctly (and is appropriate to your industry or profession).
Here is how a professional caterer might use their booking calendar:
- Set up an e-calendar with an XML feed that can go directly into a column on the company website (i.e. when the calendar is updated, so is the website automatically).
- Identify the name of the client or event (unless confidentiality dictates otherwise of course)
- Specify the date and time (need I say this?).
- Specify the venue or location.
- Identify the approximate number of people being fed.
- List what’s being served or even a link to the menu.
- If open to the public, link to a registration or event page.
When a prospect visits the company’s website, and they see this information, they learn:
- That this caterer is busy (that’s a good thing)
- The kind of events they can handle
- The sizes of the groups they serve
- The types of dishes that are prepared
- The kinds of clients they serve
As far as brand-building goes, this is just the kind of credibility that one wants to instill. Is this information the central focus of the site? No, but it is part of a greater tapestry that forms a bigger picture.
In fact, I have a close friend who is a fine artist, who for years has used a similar social media marketing approach with Facebook (posting new paintings, news of commissions and gallery exhibitions) to build what is quickly becoming a world-class personal brand.
Does this amount to bragging? Yes, indeed it does! The right kind of bragging. Every event and engagement becomes something to post, tweet and talk about. Photos, testimonials, successes, you name it. Even challenges can be brought up. And while this approach might not be right for everyone, that consistent activity of keeping others posted on what you are up to on a regular basis will keep you top of mind.