Alli, the new over-the-counter brand of prescription drug Xenical from Glaxo-SmithKline, is being marketed by a new mix of messages. Their marketers understand both the emergence and importance of social networking as a new media marketing tool, as evidenced in their latest commercial. They get it. They are now able to grasp the concept of social media networking as a tool for viral marketing. What is particularly interesting, is that neither of these terms were even a part of general marketing vocabulary and strategic thinking until just recently.

Marketers employed by the pharmaceutical giant have created a huge buzz surrounding this new product addressing a huge and hungry market; No puns intended! Their latest ad clearly displays the power of word-of-mouth viral marketing. It displays people conversing via email and phone extolling the benefits of this new product. The ad then begins to accelerate the layering of these images so that we can more easily perceive the word-of-mouth methodology and viral growth of their message. It works; Their message connects with us and they understand it.

At his legendary and highly respected blog DoshDosh, Maki has posted an impressive, detailed listing of forty-seven social media sites. Brandon Fritz, who writes for Kolbrener, has also assembled an amazing list of fifty social media sites categorized by market segment. These social networking site lists will continue to grow and change over time. One thing is certain, as is proven with the current political drama unfolding in cyberspace: Marketing and the timely dissemination of relevant information has evolved beyond anything previously available or conceivable and will continue to develop. Social networking is now viewed as a legitimate means of strategic marketing.

How will your sales be impacted by the development of new social media and viral marketing tools? You need to be paying attention and learning new selling skills to take advantage of this growing phenomenon as the sales cycle in most industries is certainly being impacted. Sales strategies are becoming more conversational as social media marketing unfolds. Perhaps the marketing mainstream is grasping what he direct marketers have known for some time; that selling is most effective when it is made to be personal and conversational.

Relationships continue to win sales. Salespeople who make the time to understand their customers and their needs, connecting with them, will sell more and have many more satisfied, referral-providing, long-term customers than those who look only for a quick sale. Which path will you take?

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