Relationships have always been at the center of business development, and the most natural way to establish relationships has always been to do some degree in the universities, go to specialized masters, events, etc before the drastic revolution of social networks.

In the digital world where we live, social networks can accelerate the process of building relationships. From Facebook to LinkedIn, social networks have improved the way we communicate with potential customers, stimulate connections and are our main method of search to establish relationships.

Nine times out of ten, the people in charge of the development of a company have an idea of ​​the type of company with which they want to associate for a particular initiative. Traditionally, the next step in an initial connection would be to call or send an email to the company and make a report from there. Social networks accelerate this process and now we can find the best person, determine if we have any mutual connection, know their experience (like the company’s), all before entering into a conversation.

Today we are going to shares with you some ways we can use the information available on social networks to improve our business development practices.

How social networks generate business development

1. Use social networks as lenses

Social networks provide the opportunity to see what potential partners, competitors, and customers do. Social networks are a concrete way to see how companies perform in their respective ecosystems, which can shed light on possible ways of working together (or reasons not to do so). Make sure you position yourself as an expert in your industry by sharing thoughts and content in your channels and highlight achievements and successes.

2. Modify your messages on your social channels

Each social network has a different flavor. The way people behave and connect in these is different. For example, on Twitter, we are more concise and direct, while on Facebook we have more freedom and we tend to launch marketing initiatives to show the culture of our agency. There is no universal manual for all social networks.

3. Improve relationships with employees

If you are looking to connect with someone in a particular company, see if someone in your company has an established relationship. Social networks like LinkedIn facilitate the search for mutual connections. Whether you ask a colleague to introduce you or advertise on your network, a mutual connection is an automatic advantage in the game of business development.

4. Use social networks as an additional connection point

Social networks are not only the key to the success of business development but also serve as an additional connection point for your practices. For example, once we sent an email and a voice to a prospect, but he never responded. It is natural that people are so busy that they overlook these things and forget to do something. However, we did a follow-up via LinkedIn and other digital avenues, and we managed to communicate with him much more quickly.

Whether online or not, the most fundamental element of a company’s development will always be strong relationships. At the end of the day, what matters is that you associate with a company or person with a good reputation, do things well and have initiative. Social networks are a good place to start.

Smartphones, Tablets: Mobile devices are becoming more and more important for brand management and more are added, such as SmartWatch and wearables. The development of Smart Living will also support the further expansion that we see in Mobile Health.

Mobile branding is brand management with mobile devices. The user can communicate at any time (24/7), and any place: Mobile devices accompany the user through his day – in the train, in the lecture, even in the bathroom. In contrast to laptop and PC, the smartphone is almost always present in everyday life, usually switched on and connected to the Internet. Another unique feature is that we can offer the user personalized content that suits his wishes, needs, and situation.

Location Based Branding

Location-based branding is location-based brand management. Example: The user is in a real place, where he enters and participates in a brand story. He has to do something, or he lets something happen. Very well this can be combined with augmented reality. So let’s go: allow your user to hand-me-downs through your business, navigate to specific locations, and complete tasks to receive a discount as a reward.

Tell stories in your storefront, possibly supported by an avatar, an electronic helper. At the Open House, mobile stories in the foyer tell the story of the company’s founding, in the research lab of the latest product, in the production of the outstanding quality of this product. With micro telling short stories in two to three sentences or 140 characters texts.

Situation-Based Branding

The challenge for mobile branding is to gain knowledge about the users in certain situations and the experiences that they would like to have in this situation. So far, market research relies on measurable behavior such as click counts and retention times in eShops.

Although these data provide important information on the observed behavior: Which banner is clicked more often? How long do users need to order a product? But there is some lack of insight about why people act in situations and whether they will do so again in the future.

This requires qualitative, “understanding” information about the situation. The first approaches already exist: the users are recorded and evaluated via the webcam: Does the user feel bored? Is he excited? Our stories could instantly instigate or reassure him.

Conclusion

Mobile branding and location-based branding contribute to digital branding through unlimited availability of time and place. However, we should better understand how the user feels in certain situations and what he wants.

Hotels today deliver a significant portion of their revenues to digital agents such as booking.com. Experts recommend generating as many direct bookings as possible via the hotel’s website. But how does a hotelier implement this?

Recently, an elderly lady told me about her Tuscany vacation 40 years ago: “We just drove off, and if we liked one place, we stopped at a ‘free room’ sign and stayed overnight.”

“Room free” signs can still be seen today. However, they do not have much to do with the sales strategy of a modern hotel. Because more and more people inform themselves before departure in detail on the Internet and book there. Let’s consider how online portals like booking.com, HRS, and Expedia are getting more powerful. Hotels today deliver a significant portion of their revenues to these digital intermediaries. Hoteliers need a clear strategy to compete in this market. What can such a strategy look like?

In conversation with professionals

I interviewed two experts: the distribution expert Gianluca Marongiu of the Swiss Hospitality Solutions AG (SHS) and the experienced Lucerne hotelier Ferdinand Zehnder.

For Zehnder and Marongiu, one thing is clear: The aim is to generate as many direct bookings as possible via the hotel’s commission-free website. That’s easy to say, but not so easy to achieve. The question arises: how can the relatively unknown website of a single hotelier stand up to the big portals?

Zehnder and Marongiu consider the following four tips to be crucial:

1. Create incentives for direct bookings

Each booking via online booking portals incurs commissions of up to 15 percent of the room rate. Ferdinand Zehnder explains:

“Reservations through our website are commission-free. The hotel’s website thus gains great importance for us. We want guests to book directly through our website and sell the rooms 4 percent cheaper than booking.com.”

Thus Zehnder saves the commission costs, and its guests benefit from a better offer. Gianluca Marongiu pursues a similar strategy at SHS. He recommends that his clients create attractive incentives for direct bookings. At a training course for Lucerne hoteliers, he gave the following tips:

  • Best Price Guaranteed
  • Thank you gift, for example, dinner or free breakfast
  • Stringent visual language, wording, and communication of the USP
  • Good usability with logical booking steps up to the cash register

2. Hotel websites must be mobile-friendly

“Responsive” websites are becoming more important. According to Marongiu, the search behavior of customers has changed a lot in recent years:

“Almost everyone gets informed online today. There are very few people who inform themselves offline and book offline. The online process influences over 80 percent of bookings. Guests are increasingly using mobile devices. A responsive website is, therefore, a must for every hotel. ”

3. Show presence on meta-search platforms

Meta-search platforms such as Trivago or Kayak are an excellent opportunity for hoteliers, as their hotel website on the price comparison platforms is in direct competition with the popular booking portals such as booking.com and HRS. If the hotel website wins the price comparison, commission-free direct bookings can be generated.

However, how long it will take is uncertain, Marongiu knows:

“The big online booking platforms are increasingly buying the most important meta-search platforms. In the long term, the hotel industry probably has to pay a lot for mediation via the meta-search platform (pay per click).”

4. Revenue Management: Maintain Independence

Marongiu recommends targeting the number of customers booking through an online booking platform. SHS has developed a pick-up reporting that focuses on the next six months and provides a forecast for the future booking status. At a low booking level, the hotelier resorts to an intermediary such as boooking.com. During a well-booked period, it dispenses with the distribution through the commissioned online portals.

As there are price levels in yield management, revenue levels have been developed in Revenue Management.

“So we’re not just changing the prices, but also the availability on the channels, depending on what the forecast looks like for the next few months,” explains Marongiu.

For example, a hotel does not raise prices on a high season, but can only be booked through its own, commission-free website. Thus, the hoteliers create certain independence compared to the booking platforms. Ensuring independence is also central to Zehnder: ” We have a comprehensive base and can be booked through several portals. We also manage our prices and quotas independently. We do not want to be dependent on a channel.

The airline industry as a trendsetter

The airline industry has already achieved change. According to Pocuswright, three-quarters of all airline bookings in the US are made directly through their own website. Will the Swiss hoteliers succeed in luring their guests onto their own website in order to avoid the high commissions of the online portals? Please send us your opinion.

Where the journey for the Swedish hoteliers leads, we will see in the next few years. The journey can begin, preferably right on the hotel’s website.

During our research to create this article we have been surprised again and again how difficult it is for many small and large businesses to understand the digital transformation as a whole; it would seem that the paradigm exceeded its capacity; They believe that this whole revolution is just about having a presence on social networks or updating your website, when it is not.

We must have a vision about how different our client behaves today compared to before … and act accordingly.

Updating our business model to a digital approach implies understanding what is happening out there, what the trends are, what has changed and why it has been done; and after that, understand how our customers can digitally relate to our business. If we do not assimilate this clearly, we are obsolete today … although bankruptcy still takes some time to arrive. Why? Because a lot of our competitors already work in a digital paradigm; and of course, it’s a truth that we do not like to hear, and that’s why we always run away from it.

Brian Solis is one of the most recognized authors of the digital social phenomenon, lecturer and principal analyst of the Altimeter Group. In 2015 he spoke in Stockholm during the Telia Executive Summit. After the session, he met Joakim Jansson, who by then was writing his book The Digital Transformation; Joakim interviewed him about the evolution and the landscape of digital business in the world. The book is already available (in Swedish) and includes the interview with Brian Solis, but if you are not from the Scandinavia, don’t worry we bring it to you so that you can enjoy it and have a current focus on the digital world.

How is digital transformation defined?

Solis: We know that digital transformation means different things for different people and organizations, but in general, it’s about adapting to be relevant to your customers and a leader in the digital economy. What we have discovered in Altimeter is reduced to:

“It is the realignment or the new investment in technology and business models to achieve better engagement with digital customers at each point of contact throughout their experience.”

What do the companies that are successful in the digital transformation have in common?

Solis: There are three things.

First of all, they have a clear vision of what digital transformation will achieve and why it is important for your company, customers and employees. It is also essential to get the proper management to support and lead that transformation with a vision that engenders a sense of urgency.

Secondly, it is important to understand the experience of the digital client and map their journey. This is done through research, not guessing. Knowledge of expectations and digital behavior of customers at all points of contact with the company is crucial.

Third, digital transformation equipment is needed. It must be composed of people from different departments and with different roles within the organization. Marketing must be part of the team. The role of the team is to facilitate the transformation, monitor and measure progress, keep management informed and support the process.

If you can not get the CEO or other key people aligned, what should you do?

Solis: This is the million dollar question. Basically, there are two answers.

Number one, make sure you do everything possible to create a sense of urgency and get the key people on board. However, if this does not work … they must be replaced.

You talk about the importance of having a digital transformation team, for how long should this team be in its place?

Solis: They should be there as long as necessary to conduct the transformation as it should. When the existing organization is in charge of the transformation by itself, the team can be eliminated or changed into an innovation team.

Why is mapping the day or the trip of the client so important?

Solis: We must have a vision about the client … and how different now behaves compared to before. His act is very different from the beliefs of the vast majority of people. Developing a clear vision of that helps create a sense of urgency and the energy needed to bring about change in the company.

It is important to understand that there are two types of mapping the client’s trip to our product or service. First one deals with understanding the day of the clients through the digital and physical contact points. This is often based on research. The second is more in-depth and has a more anthropological approach, based on the current behavior of the digital client and the prevailing trends. The two different approaches work best in combination.

Are there some capabilities or traits that are particularly important when the company is in the midst of a digital transformation?

Solis: Empathy and humility. The digital transformation is very much about people, and it is very important to listen to them and understand them. The digital transformation is also very complex so being humble when things do not go as expected is a necessity.

What would you like to convey to companies that are about to launch their digital transformation initiative?

Solis:

  • Number one. Dare to challenge existing solutions, ask yourself why they do what they do.
  • Number two. Build a culture that rewards those who dare to try new things.
  • Number Three. Identify the main purpose. An idea or a corporation can and should always have a higher purpose. Make sure you find it.
  • Number four. If they had to start today, without their history and heritage, what would they do then? Try to imagine how they would act and approach the market if they were beginners.
  • Number five. Keep in mind that innovation can be learned. It will not always come naturally, and that’s fine.

So here’s the interview and the focus today … what do you think? Is your company having problems adapting to the new digital times? Is your director up to the challenge? Tell us; we love reading you.