I feel like I’m being inexorably pulled into the 21st century.

I have a 35-year-old daughter, and like most fathers, she is the apple in my eye. I’m proud of her, but there are challenges to our relationship.

She is young and I’m old. She is a texting queen and I’m just getting comfortable with e-mail. I think you get the idea.

Well, guess what? I have been forevermore yanked into the 21st century. I am now on Twitter with @RonSlee, and have a blog at www.learningwithoutscars.com. I invite you to follow me on both. Oh and yes, my daughter got me on both.

You might wonder why this is important to us in the parts and service world. It’s easy. Our customers span a range of generations many of whom are comfortable in the Twitter, Facebook, texting, and blogging worlds. No one can afford to leave out a complete segment of customers. You need to be involved in the media methods of their choice.

A Communication Method

You’ve heard me talk about market segmentation and services-dominant marketing. Everything in our world today is about providing specific customer service to each customer. The days of one size fits all have been over for some time.

But we still are constrained by the costs of market coverage. We can’t afford to provide every customer with their preferred individual levels of customer service. We have to segment the market, and there is a specific segment of our customers who are on Twitter and blogs every day. Social media is just another method for us to communicate.

It is a means through which we can share thoughts and ideas. We can reach out to specific customer types and share a message. It’s another form of direct mail, isn’t it?

I’m a neophyte with Twitter and blogs, having been around the two for just a month. I do, however, intend to become well enough versed in them so that I can make good use of them to communicate with my clients and my world of influencers and followers.

Water Well Journal is on Twitter @WaterWellJournl and the magazine’s content is available on the Internet at www.waterwelljournal.com. I think this is a good thing and another means through which the journal can communicate with its market.

Media of Choice

Communications is important. Getting messages out to the market is important. With market segmentation we have dealt with machine and system population counts, and the relationships suppliers and customers experience through the level of purchases. What we haven’t dealt with is the media of choice through which we should consider our communications.

I recently worked with a dealer who had a nice cross section of ages and experiences. There were some in the room who preferred personal visits and telephone contacts, others who wanted e-mail, and even some who used text messaging to communicate with the marketplace. My point with social media is that it is just another means to the same end. I don’t think we can afford to leave out any of the communication outlets.

When we talk about market coverage, we have to balance the cost of faceto-face communication with the benefit of it. The same is true with the use of telephone market coverage. And now we have Twitter and blogs—just more communications methods.

Reexamine the Methods

So here we are. We need to reexamine market coverage methods. I suggest we redefine the criteria through which we have segmented our customers. It used to be simply socioeconomic criteria. Then we moved towards market potential coupled with market realization or market capture rates. This has lovingly been called “share of wallet.” We have used these methods for 30 or 40 years now.

The communications revolution started with America Online (AOL). The device which it used was an 800 number that AT&T misunderstood and it cost them dearly. When AOL started, it replaced Tymnet and Telenet as the two main communication vehicles on the Internet. They charged by the hour, and with the 800 number AOL purchased volumes of time and then turned around and allowed customers to park online without any cost.

The latest recurrence of this is with the smartphones and tablets. Communication vehicles have changed yet again. Texting has almost replaced telephone calls with the younger generation. For those of you who have a young smartphone user with a monthly texting contract, your bill will give you a hint as it is probably dozens of pages long. Take the hint. We need to pay attention to the world around us or we risk being left behind.

So far there is no pain for me in using Twitter. It is just another vehicle through which I can communicate with people. The same goes for my blog. Of course you can tell me directly by following me on Twitter or reading and commenting on my blog. I look forward to hearing from you. The time is now.

by Ron Slee
May, 2012
Water Well Journal

About Water Well Journal

The Water Well Journal is the leading resource for those working in the groundwater industry. The flagship publication of the National Ground Water Association is delivered to more than 24,000 people every month and covers technical issues related to drilling and pump installation, rig maintenance, business management, well rehabilitation, water treatment, and more.

Since many of the companies in the groundwater industry are small family-run businesses it is critical that Water Well Journal provide much more than technical content. That is why Ron Slee’s monthly columns addressing management, supply, and inventory issues are valuable. It is that type of information that helps the publication achieve NGWA’s mission of advancing groundwater knowledge.