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Are selling and marketing using social media similar to the digital film industry in its early years?

By Sander Biehn | Jul 12, 2017

Are selling and marketing using social media similar to the digital film industry in its early years?

Eastman Kodak invented the digital camera in 1975. Yes, 1975. So why did it take another 20 years before digital photography was available to the masses?

Because Kodak executives didn’t see the opportunity that digital photography offered. They didn’t see the age of instant image share via smartphone, and the ability to create an online album that could also be quickly printed and delivered by mail.

In 1975 most of Kodak’s business came from film sales and from developing that film. Kodak just didn’t get it. Yeah, perhaps Kodak saw it as a direct threat to their business, but I think that theory gives them more credit than they deserve.  All of us often miss what is so obvious to us later.

Meanwhile, instead of recognizing digital as the future of photography, Kodak stayed the course with film and tucked away the digital technology.

When other companies eventually launched digital cameras, Kodak still believed it wasn’t a threat to their business, so they didn’t pursue digital seriously. By the time, Kodak finally realized that digital would completely eliminate film, it was too late. Kodak is now bankrupt and struggling to survive.

Adapt or die

The lesson here is that you can’t prevent the future. The world changes whether you want it to or not, and if you don’t adapt to the change, it will be fatal.

Change is inevitable; however, people become set in their ways. People frequently refuse to learn new ways of doing things that would improve their own productivity because learning the new way is painful for them. I know of at least one current Fortune 500 CEO who does not use a computer because he doesn’t want to change.

Why Social Selling is here to stay

Social selling may seem like a buzzword or a fad, but we all need to heed the Kodak cautionary tale. Social selling is the natural evolution of sales in a world where everyone is connected electronically via social networks. Social Selling is like the digital camera of the sales world. Twenty years from now, only the old-timers will remember a world where sales weren’t always social. In 20 years, what we call “social selling” today will be only referred to as “sales.”

The early adopters of social selling are working to perfect their strategies and best practices right now. By the time many businesses identify the need to use social to sell, it may be too late for them.

The 21st Century way to build relationships and solve problems

Selling is all about building relationships and solving problems. Social media is a tool to do both. It provides easy access to your customers and instantaneous access to information. Your customers are already using the internet to research solutions to their problems.

To survive in sales, your company must be part of the new buying process. Teach your marketing and sales teams to provide helpful content that goes beyond market awareness of your company name and product description and pricing. Be a knowledgeable resource for your customers, find them early in their process, and then be prepared to propose a solution that is specific to their needs.

Go where customers are. Your customers are on LinkedIn and Twitter.

In closing, I ask the question again: Is it better to delay changing until you’re at a disadvantage, or get on board early and reap the rewards?

Welcome to social selling.


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