When I wrote this post about how marketing experiments can hurt you, I got a thoughtful reply from Jim, who had an alternative view. He shared his business blogging tips that helped his unsexy business. His response was so thoughtful that I asked him to share it.
Jim owns OptiFuse, a company that manufacturers, markets, and sells fuses – from the little glass ones in all of your electronic equipment to the kinds you find in your car.
I got to meet Jim this weekend when he was in Ogden. It’s really fun to meet other bloggers and learn from each other! Jim showed me the file on his phone full of ideas for his posts. He agreed to write me a guest blog post and I agreed to write one for him. Here’s his:
Most, if not all, marketing experts will tell you that the key to building a great social media presence is to create great content.
Now this might be easy if your company is a trendy retail store, a theme restaurant, or a high-tech company with cutting edge products. Every day something changes: new style trends, the menu, or the new features on your latest smartphone app release.
Now imagine you’re not in a world that changes every day. You sell industrial fasteners, lumber products, or in our case, automotive and electronic fuses. How do you make those types of products sexy?
Well in a short word…you don’t.
Marketing today is not about just about selling products or services. It’s about selling trust, awareness, integrity, hope and dreams to a select community of people.
More and more, potential customers want to know who you are and what you stand for rather than what you sell.
A little more than five years ago, I attended a local workshop class entitled, “How to use social media to promote your business on the Internet”. The 4-hour workshop gave the students a brief glimpse into the world of social media and the different platforms one could use to reach a potential audience.
I returned to my office later that day with the idea of starting a daily blog (here’s a link to the Optifuse blog) centered upon three main themes:
- Our Products
- Applications for our products
- A simple musing about some general interest topic
Each day I wrote a short blog, perhaps a paragraph or two as not to burden people with a long read, and post it on our company’s website.
I also remembered from my class, that a good way to reach people was to send out e-mail blasts via a mail service like Constant Contact or Mail Chimp. So I compiled an emailing-list for all of our customers and prospects and began sending them a daily email copy of my blog.
After a few weeks of sending out blogs to my mailing list, I discovered two important things:
- More than one-third of the people I initially sent my e-mails didn’t appreciate the unsolicited email intrusion in their inbox and quickly opted out. Or worse, they sent me a snotty email telling me that they don’t want do business with spammers and telling me in no uncertain terms to remove them from my mailing list.
- The feedback from those people did not opt-out immediately was that the content was somewhat interesting, but that they did not want something from me every day.
Using this new-found insight, I then changed the format to a 3-times weekly blog. On Mondays I would write about products, Wednesdays I’d write about applications and on Fridays I would write about life.
Additionally, after reading a book by marketing guru, Seth Godin, I decided that I would no longer “interrupt” people with my e-mails but rather I would now seek permission from my audience prior to sending them anything.
In doing so, I lost another third of my initial “readership” when I sent out a “permission” slip to each recipient asking them to opt-in to receive future e-mails.
My original list of 5,000 addresses had dwindled to less than 1,500 people in only a few months.
Mail services like Constant Contact or Mail Chimp shares statistics such as the number of people who opened the email, clicked on various links, or who opted out (I now always include an option for the subscriber to opt out with each blog I send).
After reviewing these statistics, I noticed one glaring fact: only a few people were actually opening the e-mails sent on Mondays and Wednesdays. People seemed to genuinely like the content that they were receiving on Fridays.
So the blog format changed yet again to just one blog per week, the Friday edition. The daily blog had now turned into a weekly blog concentrating on life, personal development, and unconventional ideas.
Since that decision five years ago, subscribers continue to grow. I add several names to the list each week, each giving their explicit permission to do so.
Not only has the readership grown, but our company’s sales have grown as well, nearly tripling during the five years since the blog launched.
The feedback I hear is that our customers want to do business with a company that demonstrates its humanity. People want to buy from people they like, people who have similar values and who open themselves up to scrutiny.
I was recently conducting a product-training for one of our distributors in New England whom I had never met. After about an hour presentation, I stopped to field questions from the 20 or so people in the room.
One gal raised her hand and asked, “So where do you come up for all those topics for your Friday Blog”?
I was taken aback as the meeting took a sudden turn away from our products to how they were great fans of the Friday blog and how many of them forwarded the blog to their customers each week.
“Our customers want to buy your products…not necessarily because they are unique or highly innovative but rather because your company actually has a heart and soul…”
This experience proves to me once again that people want to connect with people not with corporations whose main purpose in life is to bring profits to their shareholders (but mostly themselves).
Social media is not just for business-to-consumer type enterprises…it is for every type of business, non-profit and/or government agency. It’s not hard if you speak from the heart.
The important thing is to remember that social media is just simply a way to share and communicate ideas…to build a community of like-minded individuals and to foster new ideas and thoughts. It’s not about pushing products or services.
Commerce is simply the transfer of trust and respect which must be earned through integrity, honesty, and deeds.
Regardless of what type of products or services you may represent, communication your values communicated through social media will have a profound effect on you, your company, and the customers you hope to serve.
Thanks to Janet for the opportunity to share my story with you today.
Jim, thank you for sharing your insights!
What I noticed is that Jim’s blog posts are not fancy but they do have substance. He’s not out promoting them on Facebook and a lot of other social media sites.
Even today in a crowded landscape, in certain industries it’s enough to simply communicate. People are not used to hearing from the owner of a fuse company with his take on the world. So you can’t use that as an excuse to not get started. Jim is a thinker and has something interesting to share. For him, and for his customers, it’s a big win.
Jim Kalb is the founder and leader of OptiFuse, a small company that manufacturers circuit protection like fuses and circuit breakers.
Jim attended San Diego State University studying electronic engineering going on to earn a MBA at MIT in entrepreneurial studies.
He lives in San Diego, CA with his wife Susan and their 5 children. When he is not working, he spends his time cycling, playing music, traveling and volunteering with the Elderhelp and the Arthritis Foundation.
Are you a business owner who has made a marketing-related discovery? Please reach out to me. If you’d like to share in a guest post, please email me: grocerybike at gmail.com