A Client Lost to Lethargy (from the archives of the old AdTex Interactive blog)

We lost a client last week. We’re devastated about it.

In this economy, you would think our largest lament would be the subsequent loss of income. But truth be told, the monthly revenue from this particular client was miniscule. What is most crushing are the dashed hopes of parading this client’s success as a benchmark for Social Media Marketing done right.

We hoped to showcase their results as proof positive of our Social Media Marketing strategy’s effectiveness. But alas, ‘twas not to be.

Here’s what happened. Last year, we partnered with a friend who has an agency that does email marketing for a coalition of independent specialty stores. Many of the stores’ owners expressed interest in Social Media Marketing. With the hope of adding at least half of the 200-plus stores as SM clients, we offered our services at a deeply discounted monthly rate. We traveled to their industry’s annual trade show to present our SM plan in a “breakout” session. We left with two or three commitments to the program. Neither panned out.

We understand that offering to do someone’s Social Media Marketing is a tough sell in tight times. I covered my theory on it in the “Social Media Marketing is Not Free” blog post. Anyway, a store that didn’t attend the show contracted us. As a show of good faith, we still offered the drastically discounted group rate for our already-low-cost service. They chose to have us create their SM sites and use our “3M” service. But they declined our affordable content-creation options, choosing to try doing it themselves (with lots of free consultation from us).

Hours were spent on the phone, discussing the retailer’s Social Media Marketing strategy, goals, plans and challenges. They were encouraged to call our offices or wireless phones with even the slightest questions or concerns. We communicated frequently. If not by phone, always at least by email. We started by telling them how Social Media marketing takes time, planning and effort. We worked the program as planned. We spent hours educating two employees on SM best practices. We showed them how Facebook isn’t their company’s “digital message board” to talk “at” customers and tell them what’s for sale. We taught them about engagement, interaction, Facebook as a “hangout”, blah, blah, blah… (much of the stuff that was covered in my “Don’t tell your “Likers…Anything” and “Your Company is On Facebook….” posts).

We set up their first three SM sites (after explaining how this would raise their website’s Search Ranking). They got a “tricked out” FB page with a custom canvas, “incentivized” landing page and apps. We built them a customized YouTube channel and Twitter profile. We had our friend do an “incentivized” email to introduce their list subscribers to their new Facebook page and grow their “likerbase”.

But our best efforts were put forth providing creative ideas for them to develop engaging, customer-capturing, EdgeRank-driving content. We suggested they buy a cheap digital video camera and do short (1-2 min. max.) videos at least weekly. We created a strategy for posting photos, helpful tips, using surveys, developing contests, asking “likers”/followers/subscribers questions, adding links back to their website, “liking” local pages and posting positive, non-promotional info on their FB walls, etc. We gave them a lengthy list of obscure holidays and suggested promotions they can create around them. We researched their local (we’re in Texas and they are in the Midwest) events and happenings that they could integrate with their SM programs. We came up with numerous creative ideas for them to manufacture “buzz”.

This retailer specializes in party supplies and is mostly staffed by women. We suggested they create a short weekly webisode series called Women on “Men”. It would be just 1-2 minutes of the women at the store, sitting around talking about the latest episode of TNT’s Ray Romano hit, Men of a Certain Age. Why this show? Because Ray Romano’s character runs an independent PARTY STORE! It would have been just a “hook” for novelty’s sake. It would be their Social Media version of ABC’s “The View” or CBS’ “The Talk”. The idea was to create low-cost web content that would develop incremental interest. Likers, followers and fans would watch to see what real, party-store-working women thought of those three whiny, middle-age men and their exploits.

About three months in, “Women on Men” and dozens of our other ideas soon were met with virtual silence. The company’s Facebook page suffered from the same malady. In the early goings, the two or three page administrators at the store would at least post a newsfeed or two weekly. There was the occasional photo of products in the store, a special promotion around a holiday or photos of employees participating in a local event. But those became few and far between.

Once, after noticing they had gone about two weeks with no activity, I left a phone message to let them know we would be sending an email with ideas for content creation and FB newsfeeds. We proposed that if they could spare just two hours weekly, creating content (videos, photos, links, finding relative articles, etc.), we would schedule and upload their content at no additional cost. We even offered some more, mostly free, strategies.

Again, silence. What more could we have done?

Last week, I received an email with the subject line” “Discontinuing your services”. The email’s body read “[we] have decided that we don’t have the time to invest in developing our Facebook page and while you have tried to give us ideas, it is just not going anywhere. We appreciate your help in getting it going, but for now, we want to discontinue your services and we plan on letting it grow organically till we have some time to devote to its growth. Just FYI – I just found the invoice for June and gave that to our accountant to pay.”

The June invoice was only about 10 days late and was the third late one in as many months. But, that’s another issue that companies like ours face.

The sad fact is many companies know they need to get involved with Social Media Marketing. Their customers and competitors are out there on the sites. But they fail to embrace the reality of the need for a dedicated staffer or an economical, experienced agency to handle it. For those that are ready to step up to the plate and who choose the latter option, I know a great little company that will handle it all for you.