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Social Media Won’t Fix A Product That Sucks

In Inbound Marketing, SEO, Social Media, Strategy on October 20, 2009 at 11:55 pm

Using Social Media, SEO or any other form of Internet marketing cannot fix a product that sucks. But of course, we must be talking about other products: yours couldn’t possibly suck with the numbers you sell. “The advertising investment and distribution channels are creating plenty of healthy sales. The economic downturn has affected us but it will pass.”

Or is it just another economic downturn? What if this economic downturn is combined with a shift to a new age – a whole new mindset in business. At no other time in the history of our world have we seen a Company go from zero to the largest in the world within 10 years. I was in awe when I recently read that Facebook had 200 Million users (April 14, 2009), absolutely shocked on July 10 when they announced 250 Million and scratching my head when on September 19,2009 they announced 300 million! They increased 50 Million users in 75 days, which means they added 670,000 users every single day!

These numbers are unlike the numbers we have been used to dealing with in business. Google is indexing over a trillion URLs.  We have indeed entered The Google Age.

All this to say now that customers can HUNT for our product (as opposed to us spending millions in advertising & promotion HUNTING for customers and hoping they remember us when it comes time to buy), we might want to stop and think about who has the power in the current consumer-to-business relationship. In the past, the only feedback the consumer had access to was how he spent his dollar. And most felt it made no difference so apathy was the order of the day.  Big business dominated and big media profited.

In The Google Age they can vote with their dollar AND they can influence millions of their peers online. That is good news and bad. Now they know they can make a difference. Now, in order to do business a brand must learn a whole new marketing mindset: they must learn to be found – at the right time, saying the right thing. They must deal with individuals rather than demographic target groups. It is tempting to treat this medium (the web) like it is just another advertising medium, but early results have been, at best, all over the map. The Internet is dynamic so our marketing strategies and tactics must also be dynamic. They must be based on sound principles and objectives but we must talk with and listen to our customers. Joshua Porter makes a great point about expectations of Social Media Marketing in his blog, reinforcing the need to look at the Internet with fresh eyes.

Left-handed Monkey Wrenches for Left-handed Plumbers

In Inbound Marketing, Strategy on October 6, 2009 at 5:00 am

straight_pipe_wrench_3c_sm98Co-founder of Hub Spot, Dharmesh Shah says, the internet is great at connecting makers of left-handed monkey wrenches with left-handed plumbers around the world.

But the makers of left-handed monkey wrenches must:

  1. be very clear that they make left-handed monkeys wrenches
  2. not tell everyone about their full line of wrenches, hammers, screwdrivers and saws
  3. talk directly to left-handed plumbers and not be tempted to include right-handed plumbers, general contractors, the owners of hardware stores, the local handymen across America and anyone else interested in buying any household or industrial tool.

Inbound Marketing is, like the internet itself, far more efficient. Shah’s partner, Brian Halligan uses the example of eBay. Apparently the Founder started it because he wanted to expand the number of people to trade PEZ dispensers with, after he had traded with his entire rolodex. The internet offered free access to a lot of other people interested in his unusual hobby. Now eBay is the ultimate connector of buyer and seller in the world. Like Brian said – a very efficient system.

A more efficient marketplace truly allows for specialization amongst small business. So now the average small business does not have to be everything to everybody in order to survive. Due to the long tail effect ( see Chris Anderson’s Blog ) one could build a solid business making left-handed monkey wrenches for left-handed plumbers. And they can reach them all over the world.

In the old SPEND, HUNT and HOPE model, (spend lots of money, hunt for customers and hope they remember you when it comes time to buy) using mass media that was expensive and played to the large Company’s advantage, many small business owners believed they had to supplement their main offering with additional products and services, just to make ends meet. They had to add right handed wrenches and small saws, hammers and screwdrivers. The more products they offered, the more potential audiences they could identify to sell to so they forgot about the left-handed plumber and their left-handed wrenches. They lost themselves – but even worse, they collapsed sales and marketing into one big mess. In this state they want (believe they need to) tell everybody about all of the things they sell. Their ads lose focus. Their promotions are at best desperate grabs at low hanging fruit and they spend a lot of money on a lot of things. In other words marketing goes down the toilet. In this world they must sell hard and often to survive.

We conduct inbound marketing campaigns and as a professional marketer I see the Internet as the savior of marketing. The Google Era will put marketing back in the corner office. I will explain.

If a small business takes their traditional marketing mentality to inbound marketing it will fail. No ifs ands or buts. The keys to inbound marketing are:

  1. be very clear about what you sell.
  2. be very clear who your ideal buyer is
  3. put out content that educates that buyer about that product

If the business also has other things for sale, they need to run separate campaigns. That’s marketing. In this model customers buy and because they are in control of the transaction, they often enjoy it. So that left-handed plumber can easily find a left-handed wrench online.

emarketing toronto

Check Out Who Is Eating Your Lunch

In PPC, SEO, Social Media, Strategy on October 5, 2009 at 2:47 am

Business is good for some of us. And awful for others. We can blame it on the economy or the changing market, but the fact is, we all have choices about what we do and how we conduct our business.

Those of us engaged in online marketing have repeatedly tried to show traditional marketers just how effective inbound marketing can be. And how inexpensive it is relative to the results you can produce with a good strategy. We are not talking about “using Twitter” or “being on Facebook”. It serves no one for your staff to be online without a sound strategy that integrates with the rest of your marketing. Yes – it is early in the game, but our experience to date indicates it will be a lot easier to defend a top 3 organic ranking for a relevant keyword than to try to take it from a competitor who is defending it effectively. Creativity and innovation will beat big time spending in this marketplace.

We are talking about engaging in an honest open conversation with the people you believe should buy your product. But obviously, as bad as things are, most traditional marketers are happy with the current SPEND (lots of advertising and promotional dollars), HUNT (go out looking for customers) and HOPE (they remember you when it comes time to buy) model that has been dictated by the mass media marketplace we have all grown up in. This model is more about selling people than letting them buy.

We have done our best to convince businesses that the average consumer (B2B or B2C) just Googles what they are looking for and even if they do not actually purchase online (although Marketing Sherpa reports that over 34% do), they do make their buying decision based on their online research. Sure they still talk to friends and get advice. Sure they still shop in retail stores. But the strongest influence by far is the combined results of their Google search.

So, bottom line: take a 10 minute break today and type in the keywords or search terms that you think people would use to find your product or service. Not your Company name – the product or service you sell. See if you can be found when your prospects are looking to buy. And pay special attention to the firms that do show up on page 1 of the search. They’re most likely the ones your potential buyers are buying from.