Are you throwing your marketing budget into a black hole?

Where are you allocating your marketing Dollars? Are you paying and praying?

Today’s marketing and advertising world is noisier than it’s ever been.

So, are you just another voice at a raging party, or are you sitting around a table at a coffee shop having an intelligent conversation about your industry?

I’m not a big fan of mass media, unless you can seriously afford it or it extends a conversation. GoDaddy is one of the best at extending the conversation. Almost every commercial that I’ve ever seen them run on TV hooks you into going to their website to see what happens next. The best thing you can do with traditional media is get free exposure (earned media).

Traditional forms of advertising (TV, Radio, Print) are raging parties. Yes, they have huge audiences, but the music is on too loud, and everyone’s talking over each other.

Go niche or go home.

Niches online can be millions of people, and the beauty of niche marketing, is that you’re targeting your potential users directly. Best of all, the cost of accessing these users is low or free, depending on how much effort  you want to put in.

Here are a few suggestions to get started:

  1. Know who you want as customers
  2. The problem most people have with marketing is that they believe that everyone is their customer. While that may be theoretically true, it never works out. It’s best to narrow your focus down an inch wide, and drive your message and engagement a mile deep. Otherwise, you’re going to end up spreading yourself thin.

    It’s extremely important to fabricate characters who fit the profiles of your customers and potential customers. Once you’ve got these characters created, start thinking about what their life is like, where they spend their time, what they want out of life, why they would interact with your brand, and what they are interested in. Once you’re figured that out, go find the communities where those people belong, and start interacting and engaging with them there.

    If you already have a big list, use Survey Monkey to create a questionnaire to gather information and reward your users for filling it out.

  3. Viewers and Users are different
  4. This goes back to adding loads of value to your community, and why you need to have something that gets people coming back to your site. Viewers are passive, and while users are engaged. Gary Vaynerchuk explains it the difference in detail on the video below.

    http://www.viddler.com/player/3464c6eb/

  5. Own your niche
  6. Become an authority within your community. Every site needs a blog to get people to come back to it over and over again. Make sure you provide loads of value to your users.

  7. Make sure your site incorporates your marketing and sales strategy
  8. If you’re going to pay for traffic, or work for it, make sure you have a way of capturing it when it comes back.

  9. Sponsor a blog or a podcast
  10. Once you’ve determined what your users like, advertise in the communities they belong to, or on social networks based on their interest. Try to use Pay Per Click advertising whenever possible. This way you’re paying for leads, not just impressions.

If you’re using Social Media for customer service, something went wrong

I know that title sounds contrary to what tons of people preach about social media. Heck, I’ve been known on 1 or 20 occasions to tell clients and anyone who’ll listen, that Social Media can be one of the best customer management tools around. And it is. The social web, is by far the best listening station that has ever been created for new customer acquisition, client management, and customer relations, but is it the best primary channel for customer service? I think it should be part of your overall strategy, but it should be secondary.

Here’s the thing, if someone has taken the time to pull out their phone and fire off a tweet, status message, or anything else, something’s already gone horribly wrong at your business and you’re now having to do damage control out in public, if you can find it. People argue that when you take the time to resolve a customer’s problem online, it only goes to show how much you care. They are not wrong, it certainly helps, but here’s the real question, “Why are you solving a problem that happened inside your business online?”

There’s really only 2 reasons this happens.

The first, is that people are conditioned to vent and share negative experiences online. It sucks, but that’s where things are. As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to find those negative remarks that people make about your business, and square them away. And, no, just deleting them does not solve the problem, because you’ve still got an annoyed customer who’s had a bad experience. Connect and engage with them, and try to genuinely address their problem.

The second reason, is that people don’t feel that there is an effective system to privately raise a concern, or complain. I’ve sent emails to businesses and never gotten a response, and I don’t trust that someone wont run interference on complaint notes. It’s you’re responsibility to create a system that your customers will want to use to privately communicate with you, otherwise they’re going to use the channels they use to warn other people to stay away from your business.

Here are a few suggestions for how to get started:

  • Put a contact form on your website that goes straight to your personal email.
  • Setup a voice mail transcription service and prominently display the number. This way people can complain discretely.
  • Keep a database with all your customer emails, and periodically email them and ask how service has been. Reward those who respond.
  • Integrate GetSatisfaction on your site
  • Set twitter up, so that if anyone mentions your business name, you get a text message

image by: Jason Ippolito