Rick Warren's popular book, "The Purpose Driven Life," begins by asking, "What on Earth am I here for?" It's an important question and one that not only individuals should grapple with, but brands as well. Is our purpose merely to shift stock, or is there a greater reason for being?
Taking Warren's question into consideration, one way to sell successfully via social commerce is to lead with a purpose, not a pitch. Rather than coming straight out of the gate with a sales message, determine a genuine, authentic purpose that is consistent with your brand, contributes to the greater good, and promotes the welfare of others. It's a clearly stated, compelling value proposition that will set your brand apart from everyone else. And everything you do in terms of customer engagement stems from it.
In his book, "The Art of the Start," well-known author and entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki said that companies should "make meaning" by letting the motivator be something other than money. Instead, he suggests that we should seek to "make the world a better place."
That's exactly what Nike did with Nike Plus+, Nike Training Club, and the Nike FuelBand. All are designed to help users stay physically fit by assisting them with workout routines, recommending exercises, and tracking workout activity.
Certainly, the brand's ultimate goal is to sell more gear, but Nike realized that in order to do so, it should first "make meaning." With that understanding, the brand crafted this purpose statement: "We exist to help everyone achieve their athletic potential."
Kellogg's is another company that understands the need to put purpose first. Take, for example, its Special K brand, whose purpose is: "We help you get to and stay at the weight you want." Similarly, Best Buy states its purpose as: "We help you realize your technology dreams."
What brands like Nike, Kellogg's, and Best Buy have come to realize is that purpose - especially one that helps people achieve their goals and dreams - is the key to increasing customer loyalty, extending long-term value, and becoming more profitable as a result.
In social commerce parlance, we refer to this as "social utility," which is the act of using social media to solve people's problems socially or solve social problems. Social media has become a conduit though which such need-meeting and problem-solving activities can take place. It's why brands like Target created the social gifting app "Give with Friends" on Facebook, which allows people to come together to purchase Target gift certificates for others.
It's also the reason Delta Air Lines created its "Away We Go" Facebook app that enables people to plan, share, and book travel together. In both cases, commerce transactions are the ultimate, underlying aim, but a view toward serving others - meeting needs and solving problems - was the idea that guided each application's development.
With that in mind, here are some ways your brand can stimulate social sales by being purpose-driven:
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Paul Chaney is principal of Chaney Marketing Group, a boutique agency that provides integrated online marketing solutions built on the concept that quality, optimized content framed within the proper context drives sales conversions.
He is a freelance writer, popular speaker, and author of four books on the topics of business blogging, social media, and social commerce. His latest is "The Social Commerce Handbook: 20 Secrets for Turning Social Media into Social Sales," published by McGraw-Hill.
Paul sits on the board of advisors for the Women's Wisdom Network, the Social Media Marketing Institute, SmartBrief on Social Media, and MyVenturePad.com.
March 19, 2014