Like many people, I’m a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. There’s something about one year ending and another beginning that forces us to sit up and take notice of the good, the bad, and the ugly of our situation.
This year, look beyond personal resolutions and instead shine a spotlight on your business. What does your marketing mix look like? Which promotions are getting tangible results, and which tactics are you blindly about to pay an invoice to fund in the new year without knowing its effectiveness? (Yellow pages, we’re looking at you!)
As 2012 arrives, make a resolution to evaluate your business promotional activity, make a plan to fix what’s broken, and be open to new tactics and technology that are proving to be profitable for local businesses. Then follow through and be consistent in the new year.
With this in mind, here are five marketing tips to consider in 2012 and beyond.
#5: Move more of your advertising and marketing budget into online tactics.
Today, your best customers research products and services online before buying from local brick and mortar businesses. People are spending more and more time online, and you need to adapt to this reality in order to survive and thrive.
In fact, the time your customers are spending reading the newspaper, listening to the radio, and watching TV is declining, while time spent online is increasing. A recent Nielson survey found that the average American consumer spends upwards of 40% of their day online.
Your promotional messages need to appear where your customers are. What’s interesting is that businesses are still allocating much of their marketing budget on traditional forms of advertising, and this spending lags behind their customers behavior. “We’re 15 years into the consumer Internet, but lots of people don’t realize that most retail commerce still happens in local markets,” says Brendan Morrissey, Netsertive CEO.
Take Away: In 2012, you must have a conversion-optimized website (that turns visitors into customers), which gets its traffic from a custom online search and display advertising campaign from Netsertive.
Your customers are online, trying to find your business. Even if you don’t sell online, your business MUST be discoverable when your customers try to find you online. A solid website and professionally managed online ad campaign work together to get more clicks to your website, and more foot traffic in you local business.
Today, Netsertive has clients who are getting more than half of their leads and sales opportunities through online search and display advertising. And the longer our client work with us, the better the results.
Read more about this topic: Promotion Plan 2012: Is Your Online Budget Robust Enough?
#4: If your business isn’t using social media (Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn) now’s the time to make the investment.
Once a prospect finds your business online, makes a purchase in your store, and becomes a long-term customer, they’ll want to “follow” you and be kept in the loop. They want online tools to spread the word about you and your business. That’s where social media comes into play.
Facebook and Twitter are today’s must-have communication channels for any local business. Google+ is the newcomer on the block, having opened up the ability to make business pages just a few days ago. Finally, LinkedIn is the perfect place to network with other professionals in your market or vertical, recruit employees, and show your knowledge as a thought leader.
Not convinced that social media is worth your time? Watch this social media introductory video and review these hands-on social media for business tips.
Take Away: Your best customers are seeking to “Like” you on Facebook and “Follow” you on Twitter. Start 2012 by setting up accounts on these two communication powerhouses.
Facebook Business Pages setup help is a click away, while setting up a business Twitter account is identical to setting up a personal login.
Schedule 30 minutes each day to read posts by your customers and competition. Post updates, tips, new product information, and more at least three times a week.
Engage with your customers online and give them tools to help you recruit new buyers to your business. If you make time, daily, to make social media work for your business, you’ll find that your efforts pay off with increased website traffic, online referrals, and ultimately more sales in 2012 and beyond.
#3: Resist the urge to sell to your online followers, or outsource your content generation. Communicate, socialize, and converse with them instead.
Millions of Americans spend 40% of more of their day on Facebook alone, while Twitter’s 200 million+ user base continues to expand year-over-year. LinkedIn recently broken the 100 million mark, and has quickly become the “professional Facebook” for businesses.
Think of these social media websites as today’s “word of mouth” marketing channels. They give you the chance to expand your business by giving customers the information they need to share your message with their circles of friends and family, online.
Take Away: Earning “Likes” and “Follows” to your business social media channels does not entitle you to overtly sell to your online audience. Most social media users head to these sites to see what family and friends are doing, saying, and sharing."
They’d rather see pictures of their nieces and nephews than be hit with a promotional ad masquerading as your latest “post.” Instead, use your channels in 2012 to be yourself. Communicate as if your online followers just walked into your store. Share stories, tips, tricks, and more. Don’t be afraid to let the personality of your business shine through.
This is one reason why outsourcing your social media can backfire. Most of us can easily tell when a company has given over the reins of their channels to a contractor. The writing is flat, the communications become predictable (new product spotlight on Monday, guest blog post on Wednesday, etc.), and getting a response from an actual employee of the business takes more than a few hours to accomplish.
#2: Participate in online communities, be a thought leader.
You know your business, your products, your marketplace. Share your insights, reply to posts, give your opinions, and in general guide discussions on websites that relate to your core business. Be a thought leader, online.
Being a thought leader has been described as “having the answers to the biggest questions in the mind of your customers.” Your customers set the agenda. It’s up to you to address their needs by applying your unique, deep knowledge of your business.
Take Away: Beyond pushing out your own content via your business social media channels, set aside 30 minutes each week to take on the role of “thought leader” online. Your time investment will pay off in increased website traffic, increased visibility for your business and your its brands, and ultimately lead to more sales.
#1: Follow through, be consistent, and watch the sales opportunities flow throughout the year.
As 2012 arrives, it’s time to take action.
Remember, while 90 percent of people use online search, online reviews and so on to research before buying a product or service, 90 percent of consumers still buy most items within 50 miles of their homes, and 90 percent of retail sales still occur over brick and mortar retail counters.
Move more of your advertising and marketing budget into online tactics. Netsertive knows how to turn online searches for your company and its products and services into clicks and new sales opportunities in the new year.
We’ve proven that sustained, localized digital marketing programs, customized to your business, deliver a huge impact. Netsertive levels the playing field and helps you own your market by turning online discovery into offline brick and mortar sales.
If you’re not taking advantage of the Internet and moving a significant portion of your marketing budget into online tactics to harvest online awareness of your business and its products and services, you can bet that competitors are, right in your back yard.
Plus, if your business isn’t using social media, now’s the time to make the investment. Your best customers are seeking to “Like” you on Facebook and “Follow” you on Twitter. Start 2012 by setting up accounts on these two communication powerhouses.
Resist the urge to sell to your online followers, or outsource your content generation. Communicate, socialize, and converse with them instead. Participate in online communities, be a thought leader.
Finally, follow through, be consistent, and watch the sales opportunities flow throughout the year.