I wrote this contributed article surrounding online competitors for Kochie’s Business Builders. Click here to view, or see below.
The joy of the internet is that whatever your business construct – small, large, retail, BSB, wholesale, niche or anywhere in between – you have the chance to dominate your space or at least stand out, on a global stage.
It doesn’t matter what your business does or who your customers are. The online world offers opportunities to expand your spheres of influence in an unparalleled and cost effective way.
I still often hear my customers say the internet isn’t for them. They have their heads in the clouds. The internet is and can be for everyone. The fun is in finding out how it can work for you and how you can best use online marketing tools.
And on one hand the marketing world hasn’t changed so much. As a marketer, I’ve been used to new tools emerging in my ‘Bob the Builder toolkit’ since I started out in marketing. The key is the mix of tools you use to get the job done. And it has to be the right mix.
So how do you use the internet to your advantage along with other tools? Her are a few pointers that will help you fast track your efforts.
# 1. Have you Googled your competition lately?
One of the quickest ways to find out how the internet can work for you is to take a look online at what other people are doing in your industry. Just as if you were shopping for a new sofa in a furniture store, shopping on the internet is no different. Go browse!
Check the options out by Googling the search terms for your industry. Spend time on the internet browsing around and learn what is new and how the internet is being used. If you find things you like, chances are others will like them too. And yes, Googling is now a verb, a way of life to find absolutely anything and everything, for good reason. Make sure you use it.
# 2. Be internet friendly
ECommerce is one of the fastest growing trends to maximise profits and return on investment. The world of eCommerce breaks the barriers of international trading, allowing the smallest of businesses to trade online to over a billion users. Can you imagine trying to do this through advertising or global PR activities?
Your corporate virtual storefront gives your customers and prospects the opportunity to browse, interact (or stumble upon) your company without leaving their premises. We can buy products from Western Australia or Wales and have them delivered to our doorstep.
We can search and book for nearly anything from movies, concerts, restaurants and sporting events. We can even locate the local fruit shop through sites such as TrueLocal, find where it is with an interactive Google Map and then comment regarding the services providing a forum for customers to interact and discuss.
# 3. Make sure you’re ‘home’ when your customers search
Google AdWords and Analytics are now an integral part of your marketing decisions. Don’t leave it to your competition to be there first, welcoming the customers that could have been yours. Increase your chances of making an impact by ensuring your business rates higher within search ranks. It doesn’t cost the earth. My supplier E-Web Marketing, has shown me how to top those search abilities even higher.
Invest some time and money into SEO (search engine optimisation) and SEM (search engine marketing) to create the visibility in every keyword search you want to be in. Use the added bonus of free services around Google Analytics and remember that most people searching for your services will only click on the top five search options.
# 4. Integrate your marketing efforts
I am an advocate of using the whole marketing mix, with every marketing campaign, to maximise the investment and return. Everything should have a call to action. Actively drive people to your website, and promote at every turn with messages of integrity, interest and fun.
The key is to use the initiatives in each segment in an integrated way to maximize return on investment. For example, a well-planned e-marketing campaign linked to an eCommerce purchase option, to a well messaged postal mail campaign plus advertising, plus telesales follow-up, plus a welcome on the website, will reap far more returns than just concentrating on one activity. It is always the integrated campaigns that work best.
# 5. Measure your spend and success
The beauty of online marketing campaigns is that they can be so beautifully measured. Companies like ExactTarget make living counselling businesses on how to maximise effort and results. They enable you to get accurate measurements on how many people have visited your website via our adverts and measure your marketing campaigns down to the last visitor, even including names down to the last visit, even including names who have clicked on your site. I spend a lot marketing my business. I utilise all the sectors of the marketing wheel and analyse the return. But most of all I have fun!