How to Survive the New World of Social Sales – 16 Minutes With Brian Solis

“Email, to me, is still the largest social network in

“Email, to me, is still the largest social network in the world,” says Brian Solis. “The reality though, is that we’re using it less and less.”

And for good reason. Imagine if people were excited to get email, like we were 10-15 years ago. What if it was like getting a fun surprise from Amazon or unwrapping a new iPad3? How can we as marketers revitalize the experience of email?

By repackaging it, making it more compelling, even “awesome” says Solis, principal of Altimeter Group and a highly regarded author and blogger. “We need to start thinking of email databases as social databases … and how consumers are evolving into different mediums.”

These are a few themes from Solis’ latest book, The End of Business as Usual, in which he examines the rise of the “connected customer” and explores how brands must focus more on empathy and a personal, personalized touch, to succeed with this rapidly growing, always-wired population.

The book touches on topics such as the varying roles of social consumers, the (huge) perception gap between what consumers and companies see as the value of social media, and creating magical user experiences, all while quoting everyone from Plato to the infamous Always Be Closing rant from Glengarry Glen Ross (a personal favorite – but not safe for work).

Try A Little Tenderness

“Brands are either part of the conversation or they’re not and as a result, they’re either part of the decision-making cycle or they’re absent from the heart, mind and actions of the connected customer,” writes Solis. “To the connected customer, a brand must come alive and speak at a personal level.”

In other words, it’s not always a direct path from clicks and “likes” to dollars and cents.

We recently sat down with Solis to discuss how companies of all sizes can reach these customers by building community, and engaging them throughout the buying cycle in more authentic ways. And much like our interview with Joe Pulizzi, Solis’ book also explains how the purchase funnel is changing (pp. 177-189) – and why a unified marketing approach works best today.

In this thought-provoking interview, Solis talks about steps to take now to adapt to this radical shift.

The Future Is Up To Us

Are you already following any of Solis’ advice? What are you doing to make your email marketing or social outreach more engaging? How is your marketing approach changing with the ubiquity of social media?

Share your thoughts in the comments area.


  1. Catherine White

    3/9/2012 9:41 pm

    Email marketing has evolved over the last few years. No longer can you blast a product to your list and expect to get a high volume of sales. It is about getting personal with your customers. Social media allows us to personalize your product or brand.
    People like to buy from someone they know, like and trust. By utilizing all the tools available, you can still have successful email marketing campaigns. Let people get to know you and what you stand for. This will compel them to trust your recommendations when it comes time to purchase a product.

  2. Hunter Boyle

    3/12/2012 11:27 am

    Thanks for the feedback, Catherine. I couldn’t agree more. The rise of social has made the personal approach even more important for email, and the success rates of impersonal blasts (a cringe-worthy term to begin with) will keep eroding. Be yourself, build trust, coordinate email with social and beyond for a consistent persona, and you’ll win — and retain — more business. Cheers!