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The rapidly changing face and needs of your customers, combined with the rise of online and mobile technologies in the workplace, has rendered your old sales tactics inadequate to maintain relevance and growth. But what can you do to adapt?
Online marketing represents a tremendous opportunity for growth for your company, as more business is conducted online now more than ever before.
These nine marketing ideas will help you succeed.
1. Think of marketing as an investment, not an expense.
If you think of marketing merely as an expense, you’re doing it wrong. Marketing is an investment that produces a measurable return in the form of qualified leads and bankable sales. Just as you would carefully review the return on investment for stocks, bonds and mutual funds in your retirement portfolio, carefully evaluate the return on investment in your company’s marketing portfolio.
Your marketing should produce measurable returns in four ways. First, your marketing should help you attract prospects or new customers, which is where most companies spend the majority of their marketing dollars and time. Unfortunately, it’s the most challenging and expensive result to achieve. It is much easier to sell to existing customers than it is to new ones, because you have already earned their trust and you have credibility. So, your marketing should also produce results by getting existing customers to: spend more, come back more often to buy from you and refer new business to you.
2. Ignore your website at your own peril.
As the endorsed online marketing consultant for a variety of industrial and B2B trade associations, I review hundreds of distribution websites each year. And the vast majority of them are awful. While you may have been able to get away with this in the past, you will not get away with it going forward. The changing face and needs of your customers, combined with the rise of online technologies in the workplace, have rendered your neglected website inadequate. If you use Google on a daily basis to research products and companies, don’t you think your customers do too? Make it a priority to turn your website into a customer-focused sales machine.
3. There are riches in niches.
There is a paradox in marketing you need to embrace: The smaller your target market, the bigger your opportunity. This may seem counterintuitive, because you may think marketing your business to the widest possible audience is the best way to succeed. Nope! If you say your target customer is “everyone,” you are really targeting no one. When you try to be all things to all people, no one will remember you.
There are a number of significant benefits of focusing on a niche. First, you have fewer competitors because fewer companies focus on your specialized target market. Second, you become a specialist, and everyone wants to work with a specialist. Next, your position in the market becomes stronger, which causes your reputation to spread rapidly throughout your target market. Finally, your marketing is more effective and less expensive. Since you know exactly who your ideal customer is and where to market to reach them, you can spend less time and money getting your message out.
4. Abandon ‘megaphone marketing’ tactics.
Megaphone marketing is shouting at many with the hopes of attracting a few. Successful companies realize that megaphone marketing tactics – print advertising, yellow page advertising, directory advertising, untargeted banner advertising, cold calls and mass email blasts, for example – just don’t work. Customers don’t want to be interrupted, and megaphone marketing is an interruption. They want to be in control of the information they receive; with megaphone marketing, the company is in control. Stop spending on ineffective tools!
5. Embrace ‘magnet marketing’ tactics.
Magnet marketing puts the customer in control. It helps you get found by customers at the very moment they have a need for your products and services. It allows you to earn trust by providing customers with information they value to attract them to your website to do business. Magnet marketing tactics include content marketing, search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising and social media marketing. Magnet marketing tactics generate more leads and sales, and they are less expensive. According to research, companies that focus on magnet marketing tactics have a 62 percent lower cost-per-lead than companies focused on megaphone marketing tactics.
6. Content marketing is the new advertising.
Search engines, blogs, social networking sites and other online platforms offer you a tremendous opportunity to engage directly with customers. However, to get in front of them, you need great content. Spend less time focusing on traditional advertising and more time creating great content. People don’t choose to do business with you just because you offer the right products at the right price; they choose you because you and your team have valuable, specialized knowledge about the applications of your products. Lead with that specialized knowledge by writing best practice articles, filming ‘how to’ videos, producing an insightful blog and creating educational guides and whitepapers. By marketing your knowledge instead of just marketing your products, you will create a unique differentiation in the marketplace.
7. Embrace the mobile marketing revolution.
Mobile devices have passed desktop computers as the most common way people access the web. Check out your website on a smartphone. If it’s difficult to read, consider creating a mobile version. You can build a custom mobile website yourself or take advantage of innovative services like DudaMobile to create a mobile version in minutes. Include more video content on your website, because it’s easier to view than text. Maybe even think about an app. Whatever your strategy, start thinking about how to optimize your business for the small screen.
8. Personal online branding has hit the mainstream.
People often Google names of people and businesses before they do business with them. What will they find when they search on your name? If you haven’t started building your personal online brand, it's time to start. Begin by creating a content-rich LinkedIn profile for yourself. Consider registering a domain name with your name (e.g., bobdestefano.com) and start producing a blog. Write articles and submit them to online trade publications. You have an online brand whether you like it or not, so you might as well take charge of it.
9. Make marketing accountable for revenue and profits.
Stop relying on gut feel or subjective measures when evaluating the return on your marketing investments. Marketing needs to be accountable for revenue and profits so you can easily identify the activities that are working and not working. The best way to accomplish this is by embracing analytics. With online marketing, you can measure everything. Leverage web analytics, trackable phone numbers and a CRM system to track leads and sales generated by each marketing activity. With this process in place, you will know what to cut and what to continue.
Bob DeStefano is a B2B online marketing strategist and professional marketing speaker with more than 20 years of experience helping distributors and manufacturers leverage online marketing to produce bottom-line results. Bob is also a member of the University of Innovative Distribution faculty. Follow Bob on Twitter @BobDeStefano or connect with Bob at http://www.svmsolutions.com and http://www.bobdestefano.com or by calling 877-786-3249 x234.
Bob's latest book Old Dog, New Clicks: Online Industrial & B2B Know-How for the 21st Century is now available in the MDM Store.