Over the past year, I’ve been encouraging our teams to have gain expertise about social media and have conversations with their customers about how these new tools can help them in their business.

Where I’ve met resistance is from people who ask, Why? Our business is advertising, and we’ve got print and internet products to sell. Talking about social media is off-point and doesn’t help.

My counter is that if we know a lot about something that our customers care about, we can help them, and that’s going to help us get into more conversations and have better relationships. And, I know from all my conversations that our customers and prospects are fascinated and perplexed by how to use social media tools in their business.

I found a useful passage in the conclusion of an industry report from Borrell Associates about real estate advertising that helps drive this point home.

Local media companies that can demonstrate a commitment to understanding their local markets more deeply than their competition, and a willingness to share that knowledge with local advertisers in a consultative relationship that is built patiently, with trust and respect, for the long term, will have the best chances for success. When a business is hearing from half a dozen ad media reps every month, it will take unprecedented focus, effort and resources to stand out.

Reading that made me ask myself, How many of our market representatives see the same value in sharing knowledge? And, how many of them feel confident about their own command of the information to share it with customers and prospects?