The 80/20 Rule

With Facebook at 500 million subscribers and growing and e-blasts and e-newsletters as mainstream marketing tools, it’s increasingly easy for businesses to be romanced by the allure these tools provide in sending sales messages to broad social networks.  It comes up so frequently in our client discussions that it’s worth putting online and sharing the BDC Advertising perspective of how to properly balance and craft sales messages and informational messages in your online and/or social networking campaigns.

Think…”sales messages are an earned privilege.”  That is, you have to earn the privilege to send them to your database or through the various social networks you may be a part of.  Specifically, we use the 80/20 rule.  80% of our web-based messages are informational or educational messages and 20% are sales.

These networks will recieve your sales messages if you’ve provided useful information that creates the proper environment and relationship to send sales messages.  As Alex Brauer, President of BDC Advertising, says,”It’s all about building and growing communities. The goal is to build membership and expand your networks as quickly and broadly as you can.  In doing so, the goal is to deliver information they look forward to receiving.  That may be a favorite recipe, destination, how to improve your mileage, rigging for salmon, upcoming event, notable date or any one of a million different messages…it’s endless.  The key is they need to be useful, fun, entertaining, easy-to-read and relevant.  You’ll grow your community quickly if you stay this course.”

“Sales messages will be allowed, or more appropriately, tolerated, if they’re kept to a minimum.  Understand that these messages will likely have negligible impact.  Unless the offer is so incredible that they’d be crazy not to participate, expect yields of less than 5% and in most cases less than 1%. That means if you send out 6,000 e-blasts with a sales message expect a return in the order of 60 or fewer people to respond.”

“I see the sales message taking a different form”, observed BDC Vice President, Trey Carskadon, “When you’re talking about new products, changes in personnel, upcoming opportunities or emerging trends you’re sending a sales message, albeit a very soft sales message but a sales message nonetheless. You’re leading the market to the watering trough…it’s their decision whether or not they’re going to drink from it.”

Carskadon continued, “With this approach comes some important opportunities, savy companies will become more disciplined in their messaging and create messaging campaigns designed to systematically create anticipation of upcoming events, opportunities, seasons that will ultimately drive sales.  In marketing to the agricultural community for instance you’ll want to start crafting your messages in spring and summer with a goal of sending your strongest sales message after the harvest when farmers have been paid for their crops.  It’s what we do in Alaska to target dividend check expenditures that occur in the Fall with everything from snow machines and boats to vacation offers.  All the information leading up to that point are messages and information that build a case for the products or services your selling. No doubt about it, it’s a much more methodical, measured and patient approach but it’s a winning approach and one you can add to everything else you’re doing to get the word out about your business.”

“We all agree, it’s editorial, informational, educational content that wins the day in these social networks and e-newsletter approaches. The 80/20 rule is a great guideline and in some cases it may skew 90/10 or 95/5.  The bottom line is that sending out an endless string of sales messages and specials is the surest way to kill the growth of the online communities you may be trying to build. “

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