opinion

Improve Strategies for Current Economy

Joe D

Your Marketing Strategies and Today’s Economy Everyone reading this is a marketer at the end of the day, so you know that traditional marketing methods are often no longer tried and true steps to success in the current economy. There are a lot of influences outside the market that have caused us to have to look at our current strategies and make the necessary changes required to keep “business as usual” running smoothly into 2011.

Things to Consider

• Aside from the recession itself, in many ways the online marketplace has really hit its maturity peak. E-commerce has doubled in growth in the last couple of years and things seem to be leveling off and in some cases, even declining before leveling off, although this holiday season is seeing gains. What this generally means in economic terms is that any future growth in the online industries will most likely come at the expense of your competitors or use of other distribution channels.

• Consumers are learning to research products before they make a purchase and in some cases, locations outside of your actual business website are quite literally where the initial process of conversion takes place. This means taking advantage of social media including your blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube as well as any other type of review, information or promotional destinations you own or to which you have access. Thinking outside the box is no longer just a catch-phrase or a promotional “option,” it’s how you need to run your business in order to survive.

• Although it’s a perennial catch phrase, consumer trust is at an all-time low. The best advertising you could ever hope to get in this day and age is the recommendation of a trusted friend, family member, colleague or respected reviewing consumer. A Nielsen study in revealed that only 1-in-10 consumers actually trusts any type of advertising any more – either online OR offline. However, in the same study it was found that roughly 1-in-3 consumers say that they completely trust the recommendations they receive from people they know or respect – think about that for a moment.

• Price is no longer the determining factor in choosing where to make a purchase or which site to subscribe to for content delivery. Price margins continue to erode as more transparency is revealed and more reviews are posted comparing prices as well as pros and cons of engaging with various online businesses. Instead, you must focus on building a solid relationship with your customer base, as well as focusing on providing good customer service, both of which will help you to build a good reputation in the industry. The top things that customers really expect to get out of a relationship with a seller today are a trusting relationship and excellent customer service. Don’t let them down.

Tips to Get You On-Track

#1 – Listen

Use social media tools to listen to what consumers like, dislike or want out of their experience with your company. Use many different layers of interactive outlets such as forums, e-mail feedback and social tools to help you to understand what you can do to improve your business and marketing efforts. Keep your information and contact through these tools relevant and current – making sure to check messages, postings and comments on a daily basis, if not more frequently.

#2 – Provide

Give your customers content that is relevant to the products or services that you are promoting. This sounds like a no-brainer, but it is a very useful tool. Use social media programs, blogs and your website itself to distribute relevant, helpful information including tips, reviews and other insights that will help to establish your company as an industry-leader and you as an expert in your field, which will boost consumer confidence in the products and services that you seek to sell them.

#3 – Communicate

Communication is essentially important in building a successful business and meaningful relationship with your customers. Sending continuous communications via a variety of different channels such as e-mail, mobile and social media tools can help to build your relationship and continue to engage the interest of your customers in your website and products. Don’t use these communication tools as merely another form of promotion, hype or advertising, instead offer them things they can use – free content and information – that will keep them coming back for more. Think information-rich newsletters and messages that are triggered by specific behaviors exhibited on your sites!

#4 – Test

It is important that you regularly test and track the various aspects of your marketing campaign and be always at-the-ready to change and evolve as required by analysis of your resulting data. It is important that you explore new marketing tools and opportunities to help keep your business ahead of the curve and find new ways to engage prospective clients and customers in order to keep your sales conversions profitable – in real-time! Find unique ways to track your methods and stay up on statistics on a regular – at least weekly – basis.

#5 – Go LIVE!

Even if your business is 100% Web-based, it is important for you to get out into the “real world” to network, meet with and build a rapport with your clients. It’s all about establishing trust and relationships in order to build up consumer confidence in your products, services and business as a whole. Utilize offline advertising efforts, expand your product packaging – even attend, sponsor or host live events that will get you face-to-face with your consumer base. Use these offline tools to enhance your online marketing efforts – make it REAL for your customers and you will create significant loyalty and a major following.

The Web-based business world is such a dynamic marketplace – new growth will be seen through interactive efforts between buyer and seller as much as through a response to changes in market trends. By staying in-touch with your target audience, testing and tracking your marketing efforts for ROI and working to effectively promote and drive new sales, you will put your business in a very good position to find success despite any further set-backs the economy or the industry may experience.

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