Your business depends on the perception of value to your customers. Consumers or customers or patients or guests- whatever you choose to call the people you sell your product or service to, want to feel that they have made the right decision in hiring you to solve their problems.

When we say “Create Lust: Evoke Trust” we get down to the core of what makes people buy. They want what you have to offer because they are confident in your ability to supply what ever it is that they want. They should feel good about their purchase. They look for affirmation from others to justify their decision. Often, just a client list can instill confidence that they are dealing with a professional.

For small business, advertising has become almost cost prohibitive in these days of too many media choices, too many messages and too many options. Because advertising via mass media is almost an oxymoron, sponsored search advertising has become perceived as the only viable option for small business. I’ll define “sponsored search” for those of you new to the term: it’s having your ad appear when someone does a search on a certain keyword. Google is by far the leader in this market, and it sets it’s prices purely by auction- meaning the price of an ad depends on how much competition you have. This is very good for Google- and not very good for you.

That’s why we believe that social media (a good definition of social media can be found on the Radian6 website (update 3012- Radian6 was bought by Salesforce and the link is gone) and on Wikipedia) and good branding are so important in this age of information overload. The Next Wave is one of the leaders in teaching social media/web 2.0 to it’s clients and to others across the country as well as one of the earliest adopters of the technology. It’s part of why we’re called “The Next Wave.”

If “fake it to make it” is really a strategy, and today, more than ever, it’s apparent that guru’s can appear from anywhere. If you want an example- just take a look at “The Evolution of Dance.” Needless to say, being able to dance your way through a meeting has taken new meaning.

Which brings us back to social media and small business. Experts are always nice to have around. If you want to grow your business, finding the right expert to solve your problem can make it much easier for you to do what you do best. Social media- or web 2.0 enabled websites (like this one- partially) allow you to demonstrate your value and knowledge to the world- and have a conversation with other people interested in your area of expertise. Building networks is still one of the secrets to getting your foot in the door- only now, the network isn’t built with closed communities (Harvard or West Point grads come to mind) but in open communities online. The more people you connect with in your field, the stronger your brand.

This video on social media has a whole bevy of people who have exploited the social media tools to build their value in the greater community. Proof positive was how easy it was to Google their names and come to a their site- on the top of the list.

We’ve even connected with a few of the people in the video- like Steve Hall from AdRants.

Their tips? Here is the search friendly run down of the six minute video:

The social opportunity
Brian Solis PR 2.0 FutureWorks
Grow communities around you by engaging them- you become an authority and influential

Rohit Bhargava- author “Personality Not Included
Word-of-mouth and customer referrals- number one source- cheap, viral works.

Tim Ferriss- The four hour work week
Get offline to meet the people online.

Steve Hall publisher of AdRants
Reach out to  everyone in your industry 9 times out of ten there is someone else doing it- and you want to make friends with them and their friends.

Toby Bloomberg- Bloomberg Marketing
A better way for small business to scale and to grow because of relationships.

Ryan Anderson Overlay tv
Great way to bypass traditional filters and go direct to your core customer.

Darren Rowse ProBlogger
To get your content out there- join up with others to get your content out there.

David Alston- Radian6
Use social media to build a brand in a highly targeted way.

Mari Smith– success coach
Be seen everywhere- online.

Liz Strauss- successful blog
To become irrisistable- know your goal. Three kinds of visitors- readers, people who do things or offer things- and the info sources.

Paul Chaney- International Blogging and New Media Association
How to show your product being made in process- turning his business into a story – to help the customer get to know your business.

While being on Linkedin.com, facebook.com and other business social media sites, there is nothing quite like having your own site and strategy to spread your message. Once you get your potential customers to your site, looking like you have your act together is critical- and that’s where branding comes in.

We have a small confession to make: we’ve been so busy working on other sites, that we’ve let our own slip a bit- but, that’s going to be addressed soon.

For a great introduction to how the web, search and open source content managers work (the best friend of the social media pro)- we highly recommend taking our Websitetology Seminar. If you aren’t in Ohio- we can bring it to your city- just organize a development day for your professional organization and we’ll do a revenue share that will help you raise money for your organization and build your social media knowledge.