Online Marketing: How To Be More Effective

Is Social Media Really Different from Traditional Marketing? 

Online Marketing

Online Marketing

No, not really.

Many retailers on Main Street remain confused about online marketing.  You may be one.

A couple of things contribute to this confusion.  One is that fact that many retailers never really learned how to be effective in their traditional offline marketing.  It was never explained to them how to:

  • create a compelling message
  • research their audience
  • evaluate media
  • make a smart media buy
  • how to determine media frequency for an effective advertising campaign, etc.

The net result is many Main Street retailers spin their wheels, waste their marketing dollars or throw up their hands in disgust claiming that advertising / marketing just doesn’t work.

The other contributing factor is to be truly effective in the world of social media, retailers need to get their hands dirty.  They have to DIY online marketing because it is too costly to hire someone as their social media manager.  This means they have to be more fully engaged in an ongoing and continuous marketing process and are forced to become more actively engaged with their customers.  Frankly, I think having Main Street retailers more actively engaged with their customers is a good thing…a really good thing for their bottom line.

What is Online Marketing?

The core of ANY marketing is to bring two people together – one who has something that another person wants.  That is pretty much marketing in a nutshell. Everything else are just the mechanics necessary to accomplish that one goal. Online marketing simply takes place on the Internet and involves a variety of social media platforms.  Yes, there are differences, but the marketing principals at work in traditional media (e.g. newspapers, radio, TV, direct mail) are just as integral to the online social media channels of Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin.

How to be More Effective

Here are 9 steps to help you be more effective in your online marketing efforts as well as in your traditional marketing.

1.  Take the time to establish clear marketing goals of what you want to accomplish.  Only with specific goals can you know if you’re making progress.

2.  Go where the bulk of your target customers hang out.  If the online marketing channels or traditional media in question is ignored by your customers, it should be ignored by you as well.

3.  Cherry-pick the social media platform or traditional media  that works for your customers, your time constraints, your personality and your business.  There is no sense wasting time or dollars with a media that doesn’t work for you or your customers.

4.  Create a clear message of specific benefits you offer your customers.  The critical word is:  Benefits…not products. Think the added value your customers receive when shopping with you and not your competitor.  Figure out 10 ways to communicate that message in short sound bites. Or take your company’s tag line (only if it communicates a benefit) and say it differently 10 times.

5.  Be consistent and persistent in your messages.  Online audiences demand consistency.  So be prepared to invest 20 minutes 3 or 4 times a week to engage with your social media audiences.  All audiences need to be exposed to your messages repetitively before they will take action.  Just about the time you message is getting boring to you is the time it is just beginning to take effect with your audience.

6.  Leverage all your communications and cross promote.  You don’t have to start from scratch every time.  Use your brochures. Use your product literature. Create a video and use it on your site, as a Facebook update, in your print ad.  Don’t forget to add your social media to your traditional media efforts as well.

7.  Be willing to share your human side.  Yes, you’re a business person, but first and foremost you are a human being.  Online audiences want to get to know you in a way that wouldn’t occur if they just walked into your store.  So share stories about your son’s winning score in soccer and that your little girl will be in a school play.  This is the one area where Main Street retailers and small business in general have a strong competitive advantage over big brands.  Use it to your advantage.

8.  Measure your progress against your goals.  Use the Google Analytics, Facebook Insights and other measurement tools to gauge your progress and to determine what is working and what isn’t.  Focus on what’s working, adjust, tweak and ignore the rest.

9.  Become a perpetual student.  Recognize there will always be something new to learn about marketing in general and with online marketing.  There are countless tools, new platforms, widgets, apps being added everyday.  Some can help make your job easier, give you more information, etc.  You don’t have to keep abreast of all of them, but you do need to be a willing to learn new things and to make changes when necessary.

Hope this helps take some of the confusion out of online marketing.  I’ve also listed some other posts that may be of help to you in your online marketing efforts.

Write your questions or comments below.  I would love to know if this information has been of any help to you in your marketing efforts.  Feel free to pass this post along to other retailers you know who might benefit from it.

Sheila Hibbard

Sheila Hibbard takes the fluff, hype and confusion out of marketing and social media. She provides small business owners with straight forward, no nonsense marketing guidance and techniques that produce results based on her 35 plus years in advertising, communications, research, strategic planning and social media. Author of Marketing Online Made Simple - WHO.

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