Something I hear now and then from small business owners and small business in-house marketers is that they aren't afraid of marketing. They're just afraid of internet marketing. After all, most people have a general understanding of how things like the yellow pages and newspaper spots work. Even if they don't run good campaigns, they probably can't end up doing a lot of damage. To them, the internet moves at lightening speed and a bad campaign can turn into a true disaster. While these are valid concerns, they shouldn't be enough to scare you off.
Mike Moran over at Biznology has a post today explaining how Internet marketing differs from old school "brighter, cleaner, cheaper" marketing. In it he explains that after doing a talk to business group about online marketing, he was approached by an "old-school" marketer who was intrigued by Mike's ideas, but was fearful of taking the leap.
This marketer explained he was used to building his messages around the benefits of the product or service, while Mike's talk had focused on addressing customer's wants and needs. It's the difference between talking at a large group (old-school marketing) in the hopes someone gets it and tailoring your message (online marketing) knowing each customer can find their way to your door via a different road.
Because you can target based on problem (need), you can skip a lot of the "qualify the lead" steps. And you can target based on where the customer is in the sales cycle—search marketing keywords can reveal the early stage from the comparison stage from the buy stage. And you can answer John Wannamaker's lament, "Half of my advertising spending is wasted, but I don't know which half." On the Internet, you do. And you can stop spending it next week.
So, Internet marketing is different from the "brighter, cleaner, cheaper" marketing of other media, but not dramatically so. You still segment your markets, understand them, and send your message. You do those things differently than in traditional marketing, but you still do them. On top of that, you can target more granularly (by need and by moment in the buying cycle) and you can measure the results of what you do (the way direct marketers do).
So, ask yourself if you're ready to try to apply what you know to something know. That man, with all that experience, was ready to try. As he left me, he said, "Now I have to go wrestle with this." Internet marketing isn't always comfortable, but it's sure more comfortable than blowing your business by avoiding it.
Something to think about for small business owners and small business marketers who are just starting to read up on things like search marketing, blogging and viral campaigns.
Sure it's different, but in a good way.
Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.
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