Part ONE: You lost me at Hello!

There is a culture shift today between businesses and the customer. This transition is from commercial to social, from product to relationship.  Marketing success is requiring businesses to convert well-calculated commercial messages into an authentic human voice spoken from a word of mouth ambassador. Social does not simply describe the media, but the message and method as well. Social communication strategies are crossing over into all forms of media. Are you ready to shift your ad copy from the detailed physical description of your asset to celebrating your resident’s LIFE at the community?  In this series I hope to guide you through the marketing culture shift from commercial to social in your over all approach to both residents and future residents.

Consumers are tired, bored, over worked, stressed by the economy, looking for answers, quick fixes and the easy button. They are attempting to survive the most serious economic crisis in the history of our planet while keeping track of a virtual renaissance in technology. How can you make their life better? How can you answer a questions, solve their problems, provide them with extra time, money, laughs, love, peace, joy – even one moment of happiness?

How can you help me? Can you make my life better?
Nothing about you matters, unless it matters to them! It is the consumer who has changed the channel. They skip past the sponsor page, fast forward past million-dollar ad campaigns with their DVR, spam-block emails, have added their name to the no call list and check caller ID. Traditional marketing is now being referred to as “outbound” or “interruptive” marketing. Businesses that insist on talking about themselves in commercial terms will continue to be deleted by their potential customers. Setting up a Facebook page with a commercial photograph, with no faces, making friends with your vendors and sister properties and then soliciting in your posts does not count as engagement in social media. It’s time to make it your fervent goal to become a truly valued partner in your resident’s life! Businesses have been talking about themselves for so long that the procedures; policies, strategies, principles, practices, reports, accounting and mission statements are saturated with their self-interest. How quickly your organization can switch from commercial to this new social era will determine the level of your frustration and success.

I agree with every firm who has said “NO” to Facebook until they have a good strategy, and perhaps professional assistance, to be successful in this new world.  Is it better to have Facebooked and lost, then to never have Facebooked at all? YES!!! This is a fundamental change in the way we will do business in the future, which extends beyond social media to every form of commercial language. Today’s messages require a communication style that has true meaning to the life of the consumer! You can stumble on it, tweet it, Facebook it, digg it, share it and post it on YouTube but if you are commercializing your message – YOU LOSE!

Where is your firm’s culture in the shift from commercial to social?  National Marketing Consultant and Speaker Lori Snider shared a great find with me – the “We We Monitor” from This is a quick way to test your current message. has developed a “Customer Focus Calculator” to help you determine whether your message is consumer centric.  When you are ready to see if your “pride” is getting in the way of progress, follow the link above and test your next marketing piece before you publish it. will evaluate the counts of certain words as key indicators of your customer focus. Discover what your word choices say about your true message.  All you have to do is enter your text (you can copy and paste) and company name, then click on “submit.” This first step on the journey is to stop being about YOU and to start being about THEM!

You will need to conduct focus groups. Listen, find interests, discover needs, get in touch with their pain, problems, worries, and stresses. Find out what you do that matters, that brings them joy, helps their cause and keeps them happy. Find out what you can do that will create more support, meaningful service and value in your relationship.  I have a simple, “Home Dinner” focus group plan that you can print down at Apartment Social Media Dance Steps on Facebook that will show you how to create an open environment for your residents to give you this very valuable information.

Are you ready for the journey, are you ready to stop commercializing your message and be social with your customer? This is going to be a series of messages on the Culture Shift from Commercial to Social. In my next message I will address the fears you will need to let go of to engage with the consumer! Get ready to SHIFT– but don’t pack your bags, its time to leave the old behind and find something new! Join me – through your hands in the air and get ready to enter the social world of media!!!

Toni Blake
Apartment Social Media Dance Steps on Facebook