Friday, April 30, 2010

OMG! The Sun Has Risen in the West!

As you know I love social media and social networking.  I love the people, the nature of engagement, on my terms, on my time.  So when I meet people who don't "get it" and don't see the value, I can't help but feel a little sorry for them.  For them and the boat they have turned their backs on and are now missing. 

My twin brother, Owen, (the blonde toehead on the far right) is an excellent example of this resistance. He says he doesn't have time to sit there and "chit and chat"... "I hardly have my time to do my work and then I go home and do THAT stuff... it's a full day."   OK, I get that.  But all work and no play make Owen a dull and bitter boy.  You have to engage with other people about things you like... hobbies, passions, movies, music, etc...   There are a million ways to connect and it can be as little or as much as you want.  Staying connected makes us human again. It raises our awareness and compassion. If anything it's good for a really good laugh, at least once a day.  

Owen is a sales manager for Neal Harris Heating & Air Conditioning & Plumbing & Duct Cleaning & Frontal Lobotomies & Dry Cleaning...  the last two are jokes, but they actually do a lot and have been servicing Kansas City since 1953.  I know!!!  1953!  They were bought out by a national brand a few years back but maintain their hometown personalized service.  The "Mother" brand has allowed Neal Harris to keep their longstanding name as a distributor of their products.   I can't help but think with their history and the national brand behind them, that no way do they not have a fan page on Facebook at the very least! 

I've been encouraging Owen for the last 9 months to get Neal Harris in the game.  He'd probably call it hounding.  It's pretty clear that times are changing and his business needs to evolve.  Go where your customers are when they are there.   It seems so easy... because it is... more than ever now!  Then I got the ... "our customers are older. They aren't on computers." (our 81 year old father is... I rest my case)  My comeback for that flim flam excuse is... "Your customer base is dying off and you don't want new customers?  Younger customers (65 and down) who can be loyal to for the next several decades?  You don't want those people?"   You'd be surprised how many people with businesses, I have had that casual conversation with and that is their defense for not changing what they do.   Unless you're selling Geritol or Depends, you should be reaching out to qualified demographics for your product or service, don't you think?  Incredibly discriminatory and naive to think younger adults don't have heating & a/c problems.  On the contrary... they are probably buying older homes that come with those exact kinds of problems.  Who are they gonna call?  They are going to ask their friends on Facebook and Twitter for suggestions and their personal experiences ... they are going to Google and Yelp for local businesses doing a good job.  They are going to ask their peers, who they trust, to help them decide.  Where would Neal Harris fall into that discussion?  Neal Harris and other non evolving companies have marketed the same way for years... doing the same things and getting the same responses.  No wonder they have the same database. 

Owen tells me it's not his decision. It's corporate's, out of Dallas. (since when was he such a rule follower?!)   I like the school of, you don't get anything unless you ask for it AND it's easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.  "Owen,  ask for the Facebook fan page or start your own, but do it now before this window of opportunity shuts on your fingers as you're peering in from the outside!"   I dread the extra work companies will have to do to catch up with those who were more willing to look at and do things different earlier in the game.  As for Owen and Neal Harris...  It was a no go. I'm not saying ditch traditional advertising and marketing, I'm suggesting adding on to it.  Social networking is FREE... today.  It might change.  Alas...  The status quo of snail mailed newsletters/postcards and a little email marketing to former customers... will continue.

I called him this morning to visit and prepare to post this blog.  Right away he sounded chipper and excited!  Low and behold, THE SUN HAS RISEN IN THE WEST!  Neal Harris started a fan page... TODAY!   I was the 28th person to "LIKE" it!   It's not being updated and managed by his office at his location, but it's up damn it and I couldn't be more thrilled for them!   Being a sister, I had to bring up "Owen, if you'd been on Facebook the last year, you'd more than likely have a few hundred local friends... and that's without even posting on a regular basis.  How nice that would have been for you to suggest to your friends your new company fan page to 'like' if they were inclined.  They care about you... they'd join.  SOCIAL BRANDING & MARKETING.  SOCIAL BRAND RECOGNITION.  WORD OF MOUSE!"

This is a big step and I realize it.   I suggested he become an administrator on his page, so he can see the insights provided by Facebook and the demographics of the fans who are engaging with the page and of those who have joined.  It'll tell him by age group and what sex the fans are of Neal Harris on Facebook. It's huge information as they begin their brave new world of social marketing!   I am so proud of them!  Now if I can just get the sun to set in the East and get them on Twitter, so they can see real time, who needs their services, locally!

Good job Owie!

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