We’ll be discussing this concept in detail at DCS 2011 in Las Vegas, along with other marketing strategies that ARM firms need to start using as the landscape for online marketing changes within the industry. If you’re going to be at DCS, make sure you attend our session: Maximizing Your Marketing Dollar: Online Brand Management Strategies for the ARM Industry and chat with us about your current marketing challenges. If you’re not signed up for DCS yet, there’s still time to register!

Naveen Hariprasad

Social media. Those words elicit a variety of responses, depending on the audience. For a college student, the term is ubiquitous with communication. Consumer-facing businesses revel in it as an additional direct channel to their customers. So why are ARM firms so reluctant to embrace it as a business tool?

As we’ve been working with various clients within the industry, we’ve discovered that many ARM firms do not currently use social media in any form, nor do they plan to in the future. In fact, within ARM there seems to be general sense of bemusement (and sometimes even derision) regarding social media as a serious form of communication. It’s time for the ARM industry to take advantage of what social media has to offer.

1. Use Linkedin as a business development tool, not just when you need a new job.

Let’s get this clear immediately: Linkedin is not just a Monster.com clone. Because it is now common practice to include your Linkedin profile with a resume, there is a perception that the site is purely for those who need to find a job. In reality, Linkedin is an incredibly powerful tool for not only expanding your business contacts, but also for identifying buying signals that can point to a prospect’s interest in what you’re selling.

ARM firms should use Linkedin

Take that gatekeeper prospect – the one who you’re trying to get in touch with so you can sell your services or products? He’s on Linkedin, and he’s using it like any other professional – updating his resume, adding comments to groups, or asking questions. This is where you can demonstrate that you are more interested in solving their problems than simply selling to them. If they ask a question, take the time to find out the answer. Develop a rapport through messages, but only after they have shown an interest in discussing topics with you. Discretion is important here. You can read a prospect’s signals when you meet them in person, so apply those principles to your online interactions with them.

2. Use Twitter to create a tone for your company and business development team.

Not only is what you say important, how you say it also matters. For communications through your main corporate Twitter account, you probably want to play it safe and maintain a straightforward, professional tone. However, you should not be afraid to display a little bit of humor or wit that proves your humanity to prospects. They will feel more at ease talking to someone who seems like a real person and you will have an easier time of establishing rapport with them as you angle the conversation towards your product or services.

Use Twitter to set a tone for your firm

3. Build trust through thought leadership.

Always use social media to actively promote your thought leadership to both clients and other ARM firms. This is also a form of brand building – if you can impress upon a prospect that your company is smart and cares about improving the way that business is done in the industry, you’ve just increased the odds that you make it past a gatekeeper and on to an internal champion who can help you build a case for your services.

Thought leadership collateral includes case studies, whitepapers, blog posts, videos – whatever you create that shows a prospect that you know what you’re talking about and that you have answers to their problems. For examples of this sort of thing, check out some of the free reports on insideARM.com or any of the blog posts by guest contributors, all of which demonstrate that they are informed and involved in ARM to their prospects. Content like this is living, breathing sales collateral and it is invaluable for any ARM company.

Naveen is the senior marketing manager for Kaulkin Media and has experience in both B2B and B2C marketing arenas. He writes and illustrates articles for insideARM about marketing in the ARM industry. If you’d like to discuss your company’s marketing, you may reach Naveen at 240-499-3826 or visit the Kaulkin Media Creative Services page. At DCS 2011 Naveen will be co-presenting the session Maximizing Your Marketing Dollar: Online Brand Management Strategies for the ARM Industry with insideARM Managing Editor Michael Klozotsky.