Written on: August 12, 2012 by Phillip J. Baratz
Though the song, first released by Bobby Day in 1958 (and re-released numerous times through the years), was a little before my time, there is no doubt that it is a catchy tune. However, it is more than likely that if you grew up listening to that song on the radio, that “Tweet” is the only one that you know —not the Tweet that represents the easiest and fastest growing form of communicating in today’s electronic world. Many of us grew up listening to the radio, but customers—yours and ours—are growing up with mobile devices, internet access everywhere and almost full-time addiction to Social Media, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
For years we have been advocates—though certainly not experts—of customer communications. Our core expertise is in trading and the management and reporting of data, but without the ability to convey to our clients, and to help them communicate with their customers, our proficiencies would not be worth all that much. We have helped clients write “price cap letters” and even worked with some on marketing natural gas to their customers who have “gone to the dark side.” Where our ability to help our clients to become better marketers is limited, we happily refer to those within our industry who have that expertise.
The simple notion that “everyone is like us” is very centrist, and wholly inaccurate. No one wants to get their “mail” once a day. No one wants to just do as their parents did. Decision-making processes are no longer based upon who has the nicest newspaper ad, but on what customers read on online blogs. Whether truly “taking back the power” or simply an easier forum for discussion, consumers seek advice from other consumers, and the easiest source is via blogs, chat rooms, and the like.
We recently started to focus some internal (and external) resources on the use of social media. Though you might find it surprising, there are not that many things that can be written about oil trading that would interest a reader (let alone interest us!). However, we have found an absolutely FREE way to have “regular touches” with our clients, and prospects, and we would be foolish to think that those who want to attract customers and clients will not be doing the same.
If you think back about 15 or 20 years ago, when price programs came into vogue, there were two main motivators to offer price caps. The first motivator was an opportunity to market something “different” and to use the cap offering as a way to grow your business. The other (perhaps far larger) group of companies that offered price caps was the group that was trying to defend its territory (i.e. customer base). So, like most things in life, fear and greed were the great motivators.
You might not have a Social Media department— unless one of your kids is setting it up for you while home from school for the summer— and you might not think that you need one. However, be rest assured that your competition, likely the same ones who were the first to offer price caps, have firm plans to start Tweeting and posting to their Facebook page. Oil companies, actually all companies, are doing what they can to remain relevant. Waiting too long to embrace, or at least start to embrace, Social Media can be detrimental to their businesses.
As our clients transition from “older school” to “newer school,” we see the glaring need for social media, and we actually do have a good deal of clients to whom a Tweet is just part of an oldies song. However, when you are selling a retail product to homeowners, the group of people who are now buying homes have never heard of Bobby Day.
Try it. It’s easy, it’s free, and you might be surprised at how many more of your customers will buy price caps, and stay loyal to you!