The Internet feeds prospects’ desire for 24/7 access to information and, at the same time, has changed the face of publishing. Email provides messaging directly to someone’s personal mailbox. Smartphones connect us around the clock and around the globe. And social media has revolutionized communication by providing a vehicle that gives a voice to the masses.
Much has changed and the new paths have opened the way for businesses to chart their own course. There are fewer barriers to getting your message to your targeted audience (unless you are trying to reach them on their office phone, right?) but many more fragmented choices to reach out and connect with them to get your message heard.
Develop a well-thought-out strategy
As with all marketing, the best-laid plans produce the best results. Businesses today need an online strategy, an industry strategy and a direct-marketing effort to build exposure.
Understanding what potential customers want and need is imperative to success, as is knowing where potential customers hang out so you know the best opportunities to connect with them.
Chart your own course
The Internet offers no barriers to entry. Unlike having to pitch your story or white paper to an editor to get it published, the Internet freely accepts whatever information you would like to create and share with its open universe of information seekers.
This accessibility means opportunity is at your fingertips to populate that universe with your information. Popular forms of providing information include websites, blogs, press releases, white papers, case studies, educational videos, virtual webinars, various forms of presentations and pictures of products, comparison matrices, social media sites, such as YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+, and so on.
Some Internet services, such as those that distribute press releases, charge a fee, whereas posting sites, such as blogs or social bookmarking sites such as Digg, are free. Tracking engagement and turning engagement into opportunity begins with a solid website that effectively communicates your message, is connected to all of the information you have placed on the Internet and is optimized for search engines.
Becoming visible within targeted industries is more traditional. Strategic sponsorships of industry association events, trade shows, informational seminars and forums, as well as advertising and editorial within trade news vehicles — both print and online — are just a few options.
Think of sponsorships as your connection with the industry that can match you with potential customers. You are benefitting from relationships these industry associations have with the individuals and companies you want as customers.
Your direct strategy is about getting your company in front of a prospect so that when there is a need for what your company sells, the prospect is already familiar with you. This can include direct mail, email campaigns (make sure they are opt-in) and invitations to webinars or seminars where you present meaningful information.
Other options include Google AdWords or other pay-per-click campaigns, trade advertising, trade shows, online advertising, etc.
Plan for a comprehensive, integrated approach
To get noticed today, companies need to have an integrated plan of action, one that is comprehensive in nature to reach the intended target audiences. Just having a website is not the answer, nor is just going to a trade show or having a video on YouTube. It is much more complex than that.
Building a known name in the marketplace takes a commitment to a planned approach and follow-through. And don’t forget the importance of a consistent brand message and voice, as well.
Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer for Greencrest, a 22-year-old brand development, strategic marketing and digital media firm that turns market players into market leaders. Borth has received numerous honors for her business and community leadership. She serves on several local advisory boards and is one of 30 certified brand strategists in the United States. Reach her at (614) 885-7921, firstname.lastname@example.org, @brandpro or for more information, visit www.greencrest.com.