Yes, the word marketing encompasses a wide variety of things.  But why in the world would people, who call themselves “marketers” waste their time and throw out their nets to anyone and everyone?  Yes, this is a bit of a rant as I am fed up with being solicited non-stop by people marketing things to me that have no connection to the type of marketing that I do.  I market small businesses and destinations.  I have no interest in becoming part of someone’s downline and there is nothing that I do or that I have written that would suggest otherwise.

I’m in the process right now of using TwitCleaner to go through each and every single person I am following.  When I started using social media 18 months ago, I did what just about everyone does and followed anyone who followed me.  Now as I help businesses get going with social media, I teach them from the mistakes that I made regarding the whole following/connecting process.

Over the past several weeks I have received an inordinate amount of solicitations, primarily via Twitter, from those in the direct sales industry.  At first, I thought it was something I was doing wrong.  “Perhaps it’s because I used the word niche in my bio,” I thought.  So I changed my bio.  That didn’t make a bit of difference as those solicitations kept rolling in daily.  Perplexed, I changed my bio 2 more times playing with the words.  No change.  Finally I started asking friends on Twitter about this.  Turns out, I’m not alone.  It seems that most people in marketing (and maybe anyone and everyone on Twitter) are being solicited and pitched continuously.

This marketing tactic set me to researching that particular market segment wondering if there are any written rules as to how you should market those types of business.   After reading lots of articles regarding directs sales/MLM businesses I found that their type of marketing should be just like my type of marketing.  They should be doing what all good marketers do and that is:

1.  Develop a marketing plan based on their potential market.  (Nowhere does it say that anyone’s market should be everyone who uses Twitter btw…)

2.  Market to those you are building a relationship with.

3.  Market to those who show interest in what you are selling.

4.  The internet certainly can be used as a marketing tool, but only after you have begun to build a personal relationship with someone.

5.  Keep it real – don’t exaggerate what you can bring to the table.

Bottom line, social media is not the medium to “cold call.”

But even more than that, if you are expecting to succeed in social media it is important to do 3 things before you follow/approach someone.  These 3 steps take a bit of time, but if you do these things you will be successful in your marketing efforts.

3 steps to take BEFORE you connect with someone via social media

1.  Read their bio – what type of marketing do they do, what type of business do they have, what is their niche?  Does it fit with your niche?

2.  Read their posts – decide if you can interact with that person. Will you learn from them and can you provide equal value in return?

3.  Go to their website – further see what they are all about.  I have gotten as far as this step (on the receiving end of a “follow”) and then found out that actually the person is an “internet marketer” and they are only looking to get me into their downline.  At least I have done the research first before wasting any more time.

Good, successful marketing takes time and a solid marketing plan that focuses on your specific niche.   By putting effort into the back end of your marketing, and by that I mean:

* deciding who your audience is

* deciding how you are going to begin a relationship with them

*deciding what marketing methods you will use

you will be more successful in the long run.

What steps do you take when deciding who to follow or connect with via social media?  Does it bug you when people randomly connect with you instead of taking the time to read what you are all about?

Looking for more small business marketing tips?  A few tips are posted each week on the Just a Small Town Girl Facebook page – hope you will visit and drop a note on the wall!  Please feel free to download The Small Town Marketing Handbook (free short ebook found on the blog) which discusses how social media allows each of us to be successful marketers regardless of the size of our budgets.  Also, if you would like to know a little bit more about how I market with little or no budget, here is our case study from Social Media Examiner –