Monday, January 4, 2010

DC Business Marketing in 2010 – 6 Online Marketing Steps to Take Right Now

Although the last decade hasn’t officially ended (we’re in the 10th year, after all), 2009’s economy and a double-digit change in years is enough for us to officially declare an end to the first decade of the 21st century. We entered the decade helping businesses and government agencies design websites and portals for maximum “user experience”, application performance and browser compatibility, all in the name of attracting and converting visitors. We end the decade designing for the same, albeit with a lot of change in the definitions of “users”, “experience”, “applications”, “performance” and “browsers”. Business marketing and systems engineering objectives remain the same for this new year, like every year - but the tools, methods, costs and audience are dramatically different.

Businesses like yours and ours use information technology to help manage and deliver many elements of our trade, from performance reporting and financial management, to data security and storage. “What” we need to do, to support our underlying sales and service processes, hasn’t changed – but the tools we can use sure have. For example, many more options will crowd the market this year for “cloud computing” services; basically made-to-order, flexible computing capabilities accessed over the Internet. Many more devices will enter the mainstream consumer market pre-wired for Internet access, from cellphone/PDA variants to personal game consoles and entertainment devices.

There’s simply a tremendous shift in attention and expertise required for successful business marketing from the platform or technology with which it’s delivered, to the channel and circumstances when and where it’s absorbed or delivered – more often than not in geosynchronous real-time.

While the fundamental methodology for online business marketing won’t change (appropriate content through the right channels to the right audience, backed by analytics and right time customer service) – new methods are required to deal with new contexts. Some degree of automation is essential, both in publishing and monitoring online content. Long-running campaigns require much shorter refresh cycles, that are created with the ability to respond to real time news and feedback. Press releases will continue to be useful, but implemented with a much broader and social definition of who or what the “Press” actually is.

Search will dominate even more, driving even more rapid shift of our marketing strategy to appease the ever-hungry search bots – every letter of our advertising need to be absolutely findable, from any Internet-connected device or channel.

Our audience for goods and services hasn’t really changed – it’s simply grown and segmented. Considering you’ve got a worthwhile, essential or just really cool product, more people than ever will have reason to buy it – provided they find it when, where and how they’re interacting online. So you’ve got to be there, everywhere – and it doesn’t need to cost the farm. We can all achieve huge returns on marketing and advertising dollar investment with a finely tuned, optimized and responsive Internet media campaign.

Such a campaign can smartly benefit from the very best of a horde of cheaply-available online tools and services – though the filters of experience, risk management and practice are even more essential than ever. Yesterday’s ISP and anti-virus software don’t work today – nor do yesterday’s advertising agencies and broadcast or print media strategies. What’s the Google page rank of your advertising firm, or publisher?

That’s not to say all traditional media should be abandoned in 2010. Sure, post a classified or consider a print advertisement – but track the discrete conversions from each dollar spent, and balance this spend across ALL media channels available and that make sense, PARTICULARLY online search marketing. Challenge the magazine to which you just paid $1000, for a quarter-page ad, to do much more for you, with their own assets – promote your website on theirs, track conversions through both web and phone, send your ad out through their email distribution. Or just spend the $1000 on well-managed pay-per-click – try it out this year.

So here’s the lowdown, for DC, Northern Virginia and Loudoun business marketing – here’s what you need to do this year, to make 2010 your year of business recovery and marketing fitness:
  1. Get smart – learn about online marketing and Internet media; here’s a fantastic local Northern Virginia marketing and media course to consider
  2. Get mean and lean - restructure your entire marketing budget – spend more online, and track the results
  3. Where’s your audience? Meet them online, through social media - and it’s not all about advertising, it will be personal, and it will be a little scary
  4. Inventory and leverage your own digital assets – you’ve got photos, videos, papers, presentations, emails…everything has value as part of an integrated online marketing campaign
  5. Hire experienced staff, or outsource what you don’t do – the technology, digital publishing, media management, website maintenance and analytics, following and friending people, tracking all the new twitter apps
  6. Help each other in the local, regional business community. Realtors, promote local service providers; IT firms, promote local tourism – a rising tide lifts all boats!

Happy New Year!

KME Internet Marketing and Media - DC, Virginia, Maryland



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