In the world of real-time updates, and endless barrages of information, it’s more important than ever for companies to engage with their customers. Online marketing is one of the best ways to do this. This means keeping a couple of things in mind.
1. Go Where Your Customers are Online – This might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many companies still don’t even have a website, let alone a Facebook or Twitter account. Be accessible, especially now with everyone and their mother, literally, having Facebook accounts. This alone may not yield any huge results, but it’s a crucial first step of the process.
2. Develop Great Promotions or Content – Content is a must for online marketing. Without it, there’s nothing to really draw people to you. A banner ad is more often than not, ignored and ineffective. Content could be anything from video of an event, to a coupon for a product you’re selling. But the point is, you need to offer content in ways that will appeal to your demographic. If your customers are on Youtube, a viral Youtube video might work great to reach them. You need to be creative about your promotions, and strategic. It’s not enough to just offer a coupon on your website.
This is sometimes the hardest thing to do for companies, but if you can not find something interesting enough about your company to distinguish it from others, then you need to focus on reworking your business model first. There are also individual online marketing companies that can do this kind of heavy brain lifting for you if needed.
The goal is to translate your business into the language of the internet, and the internet user. Again, if they don’t seem compatible, maybe you should rethink your business model, as the web is getting increasingly more important for companies, in order to stay relevant.
3. Imbed your Message Relevantly into Content – You need to embed your message into the content in meaningful ways. You see this achieved all the time on TV commercials that try to tell a story with images and then relate it to their brand. On the internet, it’s not much different, except instead of a commercial, maybe it’s a Youtube video, or a viral widget, or something like this:
4. Make your Ads into Artwork – People always respond to art, especially beautiful art. If you can’t think of a slick gimmick or catchy saying, try relating the idea of your business to some form of abstract art. Something that can be respected in the community. Hire a talented local artist to do an instillation, or make a painting for you based on your company’s values. Video tape the process..there’s more content. Chances are it will be as authentic and true as your brand, and it probably won’t cost too much either. Make noise in your area.
5. Always Have Promotions Coincide with Calls to Action – If you are a local company, only selling to local customers, your call to action will probably be to come into the store to get a discount, or something like that. Maybe a Youtube video isn’t the way to go for you, as Youtube tends to reach people often without regard to location.
Maybe a better idea would be to create a viral Facebook Widget that everyone in your area can use all the time, to stay updated on deals, or you could even offer some kind of cool tool that relates to your brand, like a measurement conversion calculator if you’re a bakery. Also iPhone apps are a great! Mobile always works because it’s convenient. You promote your widget or app to your local community, and then you have people actually engaging with your brand. You can then leverage that relationship to try to attract more customers and build on your trust in that community.
There are many more things you can do to gain a foothold online. Strategy really depends on each company’s circumstances, and also goals. Basically, the opportunity is there, you just need to take advantage of it. I hope this post helped give you an idea of the kind of thinking you need in order approach it properly.
The only other advice I have is be creative, have fun with it, and be real. Authenticity is key these days.
Written by: Dante Cullari Founder & President Beat-Play, LLC