How is Social Media Strategy like a Sandwich Shop? That’s what I talked about in Chicago at the American Institute of Architects’ National Convention.
You Have To Have A Hook
When Sybil Walker-Barnes from AIA National asked me to give a presentation in the Town Hall at the Convention she warned me that there would be chaos all around (my words not hers).
Imagine that you’re in the middle of the Exhibition Hall floor, people are milling around everywhere, your microphone doesn’t want to work and someone’s decided to take over one of the presentation screens to show the USA vs Germany World Cup soccer game.
I knew I had to have a “hook.”
I knew that if I was going to get an audience I needed to promote my presentation before the Convention started. I knew that if I was going to draw people in and have a captive audience I needed to have something unique, something attractive, and something memorable to attract the passer by.
What was my hook going to be?
Sweet Home Chicago
I lived in Chicago for most of my childhood and young adult years. I was surrounded by everything that great city had to offer: museums and music, Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe … oh yeah, and the Cubs; the loveable, hapless, Chicago Cubs.
One of the best things about Chicago is the neighborhoods.
If you’re not familiar with Chicago, it’s a large city made up of the central business district (the Loop) surrounded by an endless fabric of neighborhoods.
Areas like Lincoln Park and Wicker Park harken to the City’s park heritage but the true richness comes from the collection of ethnic neighborhoods. If New York City is America’s melting pot then Chicago must surely be the stew. Everybody’s there.
How could you not have a food-obsessed city with the likes of Little Italy, Ukrainian Village, China Town, Greektown, Polish Downtown and many, many more uniquely cultural areas? If you’re looking for something to eat the possibilities are endless.
Eat Good Food
So what does all this have to do with Social Media strategy? And where does the sandwich shop come in?
Well, let’s start with this idea: Let’s relate your business to a meal. Once you’ve decided you’re going to have a meal in a city like Chicago, the next decision may be what type of food (Italian, Chinese, etc.) you want. Let’s relate that decision making process to your business objectives. From there you develop strategies, select platforms, produce content, etc. (menus, dishes, ingredients, etc.).
One of my goals while I was in Chicago for the Convention was to eat good food.
When I say I wanted to eat good food what I really mean is that I wanted to eat types of food that I can’t find in Indianapolis where I live now. I wanted to eat in restaurants that I can’t find anywhere but Chicago. I wanted to savor the flavor of a sandwich, a pizza, a pierogi or some other dish like I’ve never had outside the City.
Think about that for a minute. What’s one of your favorite foods? What’s one that can only be found in a certain restaurant or city when only the best and most authentic will do?
Do you like Italian Beef sandwiches? Well, one food that is synonymous with Chicago is the Italian Beef sandwich. Ask a Chicagoan where to get the best Italian Beef sandwich and one of two places (maybe both) is certainly to come up in the conversation: Portillo’s and Al’s. You can’t go wrong either place.
If my objective was to eat good food in Chicago, I might decide that I want to start with an Italian Beef sandwich. And if it’s an Italian Beef sandwich I want, the best place to go may be Al’s #1 Italian Beef.
As an Architect you may have the objective of dominating the R&D Laboratory market. Establishing yourself as an authority on the design of Sustainable Laboratory Facilities is probably a good first step towards meeting that objective.
How do you build that authority? I’d start writing articles and papers on the topic. You could get your articles in industry publications and you could post papers on your own website.
You can write articles but who’s going to read them? Even if your articles are in industry publications and on your own website, the key is still to promote the articles to insure they get in front of your Ideal Clients.
How do you do that?
Let’s think about it for a minute. R&D Labs are technical facilities run by highly educated, often high-ranking professionals. That sounds a lot like the demographics of a network like LinkedIn.
Start connecting with your ideal clients on LinkedIn. Share links to your articles and papers there. Maybe you should start a LinkedIn Group about your specialty. It’s a great network for high-level interaction.
Do you see the relationship now?
My objective was to eat good food in Chicago; yours is to dominate the R&D Lab market. I decided I wanted an Italian Beef sandwich; you’re going to write articles and papers. I’m going to Al’s; you’re going to build your network on LinkedIn. I’m going to order extra peppers; you’re going to promote your articles through LinkedIn Updates.
Imagine me wiping Au Jus from my chin reading about your latest award-winning laboratory project in Architect magazine.
My sandwich is like your marketing because:
I decided that while I was in the City I was going to have authentic Chicago food. What is your business objective?
I decided in order to meet that authentic food goal I was going to have an Italian Beef sandwich. What type of content are you going to create to support your Social Media Marketing?
I decided to go to Al’s. Where are you going to connect with your Ideal Client?
I decided to order extra peppers. What kinds of posts are you going create to promote your content?