For those advertising their companies online in 2007, it was probably one of the best years in your company’s history. If it wasn’t, then pay attention. You need to take advantage of these new online marketing trends for 2008 or you may be doomed to have yet another sluggish year.
Ok, I have to tackle the obvious first Sherry Dyson . If you haven’t heard about MySpace, Facebook, and YouTube … you probably live under a rock. Social networking has taken over the internet and in order to capitalize on it, you need to start today.
Some of the advertising methods I’ve seen have been quite ingenious. I was searching on Myspace to find some old high school friends. I hadn’t yet changed the search options and noticed that under the ‘new members’ section was the name of a well-known local company that specializes in prom and wedding dresses. They had created a profile and attached it as if this year was their graduating year to EVERY SINGLE LOCAL HIGH SCHOOL. So, whenever a girl was searching for someone in her senior class this company would show up. What exposure!
Then I went over to Facebook. Facebook allows you to create your own groups, such as “Beatles Fans”, “People Who Love to go Fishing”, and “People Who Live in the Metro NY Area.” After you become a member of this group, you will start to receive alerts, news, and updates from this group. Let’s take the fishing example. The ‘fishing group’ might plan a retreat for fishing-lovers to go fishing together. Imagine sending out an invitation to 150,000 people at once? In addition to this, you can create a ‘Facebook Application’ that can give a “fisherman’s tip of the day” and at the bottom contain an ad for your fish bait and tackle website. Can you start to see how this is coming together?
If you’d like to get a TV commercial on the air but don’t exactly have the budget, you need to try YouTube. Instead of having the expenses of a big production crew, you can use a simple webcam to create a short video. Even a short testimonial about your product or service can be very effective. Having that ‘low budget’ look, but that personal connection with the viewer can still go a long way. This can be a considerable asset if you are a small business owner trying to get your company name out and in the marketplace.
The next items that are changing the way we do business online are blogs and RSS. A blog is a web log that is used to keep an online diary or journal. Your viewers can respond with their own comments, opinions, and criticisms. The reason a blog is important to you as a business owner is this: if you consistently post blogs that are of value to your target customer market, your website’s traffic will begin to increase. As your website traffic increases, your sales should also rise. As more and more people have started blogging, viewers have found several that they would regularly check for market updates, the newest trends, and other information. The downside is: they would have to regularly check each individual website for updates. This is where RSS comes in.
RSS is short for Really Simple Syndicate. You can subscribe to someone’s blog through their RSS link. All you need is a reader that can accept RSS subscriptions. These popular readers are free: RSSReader and Google Reader. Now, instead of having to go to multiple sites and checking for updates, you will automatically be sent the latest blog entry that they posted. RSS has been very useless for realtime news, weather, sports scores, and many other things.
As you consistently blog, the subscribers continuously get reminded of your expertise and of your WEBSITE. This has the same effect as a consistent newsletter: keep getting your company name in front of your target market, and when they are ready to buy, who’s name do you think will pop into their head? If you can start a blog that has value to your target market, your traffic will increase, your sales will go up, and you’ve even done something else spectacular. Something that most business owners and salespeople never do: maintain a constant and personal relationship with your customers.
This brings me to my last point: the more interaction you have with your customers (and any consumers for that matter), the easier it is for them to return to you later to do business. They trust you more because -hopefully- that interaction isn’t just you pitching them your newest product or service. When I say ‘interaction’ I mean “giving a constant flow of insight and information concerning their needs”.
When I write a new entry on my blog, I hope that an aspiring entrepreneur fresh out of college reads it and gets some knowledge that saves them time and money down the road. I hope that a struggling marketing executive reads an article that I’ve written, a light bulb goes off in their head, and they embark on a new marketing program that takes their company to the next level.