New strategies, new tactics, new mindset.
“In a dark place we find ourselves, and a little more knowledge lights our way.”
The Internet has drastically impacted business and marketing. You used to be able to run a promotion using traditional broadcast advertising (newspaper, radio, TV) and expect an immediate bump in sales. This has become harder and harder to do; and many companies (lacking a sound strategy) rely on price-point to drive their sales bump. (Hence the proliferation of ads touting 50 – 80% discounts). That will provide a bump, but at what cost — you’ve slashed your margin, stressed your staff, and potentially harmed your brand.
Broadcast mediums still have an important role to play in branding and advertising, but they should be part of a comprehensive campaign involving an online strategy. Virtually everyone and every company is researching online before they buy, so it is critical to have a strong and persuasive online presence.
Learning more about online marketing tactics and adapting how you promote your company and sell your products/services is an essential step in gaining a toehold in business today. After several dark economic years it can be difficult to know what to do, shed some light onto your situation and evaluate what your current online presence is, and investigate what you can be doing to effectively market your company online.
Provide honest and valuable information
“To be Jedi is to face the truth, and choose. Give off light, or darkness, Padawan. Be a candle, or the night.”
Your online presence is your beacon. That includes your website, blogs, social media accounts, comments/articles/posts on other websites… there is a never ending trail of your company online; it’s up to you to ensure it leads to success.
Content generation has become one of the most important aspects of marketing. Ideally, everything you do online should be part of an underlying strategy to strengthen your brand and position your company favourably with your targeted market(s). Your content should provide opportunity for your audience to engage with you and nurture a discourse that leads to a long-term customer/supplier relationship.
Be true to your brand, even when the going gets tough
“To answer power with power, the Jedi way this is not. In this war, a danger there is, of losing who we are.”
Like your mom said when you were a kid, “just be yourself, dear, and others will like you for who you are.” Mom wasn’t always right, not everyone appreciated your ironic wit or your personal fashion statements, but she knew that people who were suited to be your friends would appreciate what you had to offer. Much is the same in how you present your firm online, if you have something of value to offer, be true to your brand and strategically find your market niche; trying to be everything to everyone and changing to please diverse markets can be ruinous.
Use a variety of tactics, constantly test and refine your approach
“If no mistake have you made, yet losing you are … a different game you should play.”
Even proven tactics may not work for your company. It could be a bad fit for your market, bad timing, poor implementation… there are myriad reasons why a good idea may not work every time. So, track everything you do, monitor its effectiveness and be prepared to tweak, hone, or even yank some tactic for another. There are many great online tools (we use HootSuite, gShift Labs, Google Analytics/Webmaster Tools) to help you implement, test, monitor and measure your online efforts. With these tools you can successfully guide your online initiatives and demonstrate ROI.
Commit to the strategy
“No! Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.”
I certainly understand wanting to test the waters. That is a prudent approach to trying any new marketing initiative and can be done strategically with the ability to expand as it proves successful. But, allocating only limited resources (budget or personnel) with no guidance and expecting results is foolhardy. Like any corporate initiative, the results will be directly linked to the commitment applied. Make a reasoned, but sufficient, commitment to your online plan and it can succeed.
Online momentum takes time
“Patience you must have my young padawan.”
One of the reasons that online marketing and content generation is so hot these days is because of the exponential return. Imagine successfully leveraging your brand on the virtually infinite opportunity of the Web. It’s open and active 24/7, provides limitless touch-points and communication vehicles, can have dozens/hundreds/thousands of people providing testimonials and referring you to others… it’s like having a robo-sales/PR person tirelessly knocking on doors for you.
However, it does take some knowledge, strategy and time. Unlike running a 70% OFF ad campaign, there is not an immediate pay-off. It takes months to build an online following and start converting that into actual sales. But the rewards are great. Not only do you grow sales with typically long-lasting customers among a much wider market, but you’ve also grown your brand and an online presence that can be further leveraged. So be patient. You’re a farmer tending a cash crop; work your field diligently and you’ll reap your reward.
I’ll leave the last word to the master himself: “Looking? Found someone you have, eh?”
About the Author
Scott Vetter, President of PROSAR Inbound Inc., has been assisting organizations with marketing strategy and implementation since before this World Wide Web thing was all the rage. He well understands the fundamentals of marketing and business development, and the importance of a talented team and relevant software tools.
This article was originally published on PROSAR Inbound Blog.