If you want more business, you must capture the attention of buyers and get them talking; to you as well as others. In other words, you must create a marketing buzz. Considering the number of advertising messages people are exposed to everyday, this is no easy task. Billions are spent on every conceivable form of media to seduce buyers.
At one time, experts estimated that the average American is exposed to 3,000 advertising messages in one day. Of course, there are many ways you could capture the attention of your buyers if you have a large enough budget. However, if you are like most small business owners, you may not even have a marketing budget.
So, what can you do? Well, if you had a bricks and mortar business, you could have someone dress up in a funny costume, stand outside and try to get the attention of prospective customers. I’ve seen that technique employed by a number of small businesses. Although, I’m not sure how effective it is.
Or, you could try using some creative online marketing techniques to create a buzz like Samuel Gordon did. Owner of the oldest jewelry store in Oklahoma, Samuel Gordon created a contest similar to the Today show’s wedding contest on his website. He convinced local businesses to donate their services to a lucky engaged couple. Visitors to Gordon’s website were given the opportunity to win a $25,000 dream wedding by voting on everything from the bride’s wedding gown, to the groom’s tuxedo, to the wedding cake, to the honeymoon destination.
As a result of the promotion, traffic to the company’s website averaged 7,500 visitors per month (up from an average of 2,500). This led him to experiment with additional online marketing and social media strategies to engage current and prospective customers.
What Gordon discovered through his contest and subsequent involvement in social media is that the more people interact with a business, the more likely they are to buy. Today, Gordon’s creative customer engagement strategies include a highly interactive website and a company blog. Visitors to his website have the opportunity to comment on his Facebook page, watch videos, view slidecasts and numerous other visuals.
In addition, Gordon utilizes Twitter and Foursquare. With Foursquare, his customers “check in” to get specials and can become the mayor to receive even more valuable jewelry. Not long ago, Gordon introduced an iPhone and Android app as part of a mobile marketing campaign where users share, like and comment on the company’s content. He personally maintains the company’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. He also blogs and tweets.
However, if you are interested in engaging current and prospective customers, you must give them a reason to want to engage. Some of the more common techniques include publishing news, contests, surveys, e-courses, articles, white papers, and freebies on websites, blogs and social media networks.
For example, you could invite current and prospective customers to respond to a survey about a topic in which you think they are interested and offer to publish the results at a future date. Your survey could ask respondents for their opinions about problems that your current or future products and/or services solve. This type of survey would allow you to collect valuable data from respondents that could help you make important business decisions. Of course, you may need to invest in the services of an expert to help you develop and implement such a survey. However, if you do it correctly, the investment will more than pay for itself.
One big obstacle small business owners need to overcome is the tendency to want “instant gratification” from their online and social media marketing efforts. Many small business owners try a few things and if they don’t get immediate results they give up and say it doesn’t work.
Actually, with online marketing and social media, it is relatively easy to measure the level of customer engagement. You can track the number of visitors to your website or blog and how often they interact by commenting or downloading. You can track the number of people connecting with you on LinkedIn, the number of followers you have on Twitter, the number of fans you have on Facebook, the number of times they open your emails, the number of times they read your text messages and the number of times they check in on Foursquare. Then, you can cross check these results against new customer data to see which of your online marketing and social media efforts are paying off.
Make no mistake, it takes creativity, time, patience and a willingness to experiment with online marketing techniques and social media tools before you can expect results. I have written several other articles on this subject in the past. If you want to create a buzz and engage your current and prospective customers, you might also want to read:
Social Media: What Up With That?
The New Small Business Super-Strategy
Autoresponder: The Greatest Online Marketing Tool of All
Is Small Business Blogging Really Effective?
Is Your Blog Really A Blog?
Should Small Business Give Twitter A Twirl?
Social Media-Listening, Connecting & Publishing
Web 2.0 SEO – Search Engine Optimization
Local Online Marketing For Small Business
Square Up Your Business with Foursquare
Posted by: Mike Clough