To the uninitiated, social networking is changing the landscape of the Internet. Social networking is a place where people develop networks of friends and associates. Websites that use social networking allow you to connect with people of similar interests or hobbies. Popular websites such as Facebook and MySpace let you create profiles where you can post photos and information about yourself such as location, interests, etc. And other users can link to you and share information.
Think of social networking websites as highways connecting people of similar interests. The users of these websites generate content by communicating with each other. And networks are formed quickly by users linking together. There many different types (from aggregate to bookmarking) of social networking websites.
When you’re thinking about where your marketing dollars should go, consider that most people are getting their information online instead of reading the newspaper or even magazines. Why? Well, it’s a lot like when cable TV first came out. CNN was the first 24-hour news program. Major events happen 24/7 and CNN was the first to report the news when it happened. The public loved it. The Internet has assumed that role now. In fact, most newspapers and magazines are posting articles in blogs online to reach that market. Content is still king however. And the best writers and editors remain in the print world.
Print isn’t the only victim. TV is being abandoned as well. ‘Online is the New Prime Time’ by Marv Pollack describes the seismic shift away from TV to the Internet. He states: “One striking finding presented in our session was that during most waking hours, more people (age 15+) are using the Internet than are watching television. It is only for the last two hours of primetime and into late night, when most people seem to wind down their Internet usage, that TV consistently surpasses Internet usage.” Truth be told, I still love to read newspapers and magazines. But when I develop marketing plans, I keep in mind exactly who the target audience is and I usually recommend a substantial amount of the budget to be allocated to online marketing.
Website design is important for government websites as well. The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission has created a new website to promote their services. Flash animation was used to enhance the website. For a website this large, it is well organized and easy to navigate.
Solving real marketing issues requires a fresh look at your business. Below is a ‘Top Ten’ list of new marketing ideas to get your business going in the right direction. Get excited and be open to thinking outside the box.
10. Develop a professional website for your product or service. If you have a product or service line, create a well-designed company website. Your website should solve customer problems and provide relevant information.
9. Survey existing customers. How do your customers feel about your products and services? Stay in touch through informal lunches or a professionally coordinated survey campaign. A survey is an excellent method for taking the pulse of your audience. The survey should include detailed questions about your products and services and how they directly benefit the customer.
8. The customer is always right… always. The time to prove this statement is when the customer experiences a problem with your product or service. Make a point to take responsibility and solve any problems that a customer might have immediately. Satisfied customers turn into repeat, long-term customers.
7. Develop a new brand identity. How long has it been since you’ve updated your website or marketing materials? Maybe it’s time to take a fresh look and redesign your image. Customers and prospects respond to new ideas and information.
6. Take a customer out to lunch. Now is the time to ask a reliable customer out to lunch. Touch base with them to see how your company is solving problems and meeting their needs.
5. Be positive in your outlook. It’s important to feel good about yourself and enjoy what you do for a living. If you have a positive attitude about your job, you will succeed by transferring that enthusiasm to other employees, customers and prospects.
4. Make a list of your strengths. Are you the low price leader? Is your business the most experienced? Do you have the highest quality product or service? Try to list between 50 and 100 different and measurable strengths. This is a great exercise to develop new ideas for your marketing campaigns
3. Establish an annual marketing budget. A good rule-of-thumb estimate for your marketing budget is 3% to 5% of annual sales. Retail businesses need to budget 7% to 10% of annual sales for their marketing budgets. Your budget should include a breakdown of all marketing costs including printing and advertising placement.
2. Develop a solid marketing plan. Plan the work then work the plan. Think of a marketing plan as a “road map” to success. Your marketing plan should include measurable goals and the means to accomplish those goals. Include the marketing budget as a part of the marketing plan in order to measure the results of your company’s spending. This enables you to determine what works and what doesn’t.
1. Hire a professional company for all of your marketing needs. Good business decisions begin with choosing the right partner. Your business should enlist the help of a professional marketing firm that is experienced and has a track record in the areas of marketing, advertising and website development. Your business can be successful with creative and cost effective campaigns.
If you have a business, then you need a blog. According to Technorati, the blogoshere has grown from 100,000 blogs in March 2003 to nearly 73 million in March 2007. The numbers suggest that this is no longer ‘bleeding edge’ technology. Blogs have become mainstream as a valuable source of information for Internet users with interests that range from travel to computer hardware. Not all blogs are created equal however and there are a lot of, to put it mildly, sub-par blogs that offer little or no value. For that reason, companies that understand how important it is to connect with customers and prospects will utilize a professionally produced blog. Here are some important points:
- Hire a professional maketing firm to build your blog
- Utilize multiple authors to write articles
- Write articles about solving customer problems
- Use photos and graphic images to make your point
- Encourage feedback to articles
- Update blog as often as possible
- Find ways to connect to the blogosphere and extend your blog’s reach
Your business blog should offer solutions to customer problems, not just a sales pitch to buy your products or services. Update your blog at least once every week and cover a wide range of topics specially tailored for your target audience. And don’t forget to take advantage of the many methods for connecting with other blogs and blog aggregators such as; Digg and del.icio.us.
If this all seems ‘Greek’ to you, don’t worry. There are plenty of resources available on the Internet to help your busness create an effective blog. The great news is that the technology to create a blog is open-source (meaning free). And there are many other solutions available as well. Forget email, start a blog to move your business into the future!
Fernando Sosa and Thomas Middleditch, two unknown actor/musicians, posted a rap video about Chicken McNuggets on YouTube and created a sensation. The video eventually was spotted by McDonalds and a 30 second spot was created to run on commercial television. Mr. Sosa was also interviewed by Neil Cavuto on FNC. It just shows how creativity, marketing and Web 2.0 access can level the playing field in marketing your business.
If you opened up the doors of a new business 15 years ago, your marketing (Marketing 1.0) would have consisted of advertising in the local phone directory, printing up business cards, stationary and brochures and waiting by the phone for the customers to call. Once in a while, when business was slow, you might even take out an ad in the local paper or drop off a few business cards at a trade show.
There were computers back then and a new phenomenon called the Internet was breaking loose, but all-in-all marketing was pretty basic. For example, if you needed to research the competition, you would try to find a copy of their brochures. For information about larger potential customers you would have sent away for annual reports. You would have read about general business news in the local or national newspapers. And local information about your industry would have come from associations and membership organizations. Researching prospects and customers would take you to a place called a library. It was a place that everyone went to, to get the information they needed. Yes, those were the days!
Now, imagine that you have been asleep since then and unaware of the new technologies available for the past 15 years. (You can choose your own reason for sleeping that long!) You’ve suddenly woken up to a new world of marketing. What used to be a simple world of basic marketing is now a world of Blogs, Widgets and Wikis. To say that times have changed is an understatement. Technology now allows us to market our businesses in ways we never could have dreamed about. And even though we haven’t been asleep the past 15 years it’s still amazing to imagine the potential of utilizing this technology. Welcome to Marketing Your Business 2.0.
Marcy Design will bring a fresh perspective on how your business can take advantage of this brave new world of marketing. We will review new products, services and Web sites related to marketing.Feel free to review the RSS feeds on this Web site to gain a better understanding of what’s out there.And let us know if you have any questions or new insight to share. One last thought, according to the consulting firm Capgemini, more than 80% of consumers surveyed in 2006 said they used the Web during the buying process, twice as many as in 2004 and more than four times as many as in 2002. This new world of marketing revolves around the Internet.