Friday, May 6, 2011

Is Online Marketing Right for You?

How do you know whether your business needs online marketing? First and foremost, you need to answer some questions about your business.

1. What are you selling? Are you selling a product? A service? Or an upcoming event?

Flat out, services are hard to sell. You can be the best landscaper in New England but the fact will always remain that unless a consumer is already looking to hire a landscaper they won't have much use for your service - especially considering the current economy. In today's economic climate, even the most steadfast consumers are morphing into do-it-yourselfers. Of course, hiring a professional photographer for your daughter's wedding will yield you higher quality photos of her special day - but considering that all of us have access to a camera, perhaps even a really GOOD camera, why not save the $3500? I'm not saying it's the right thing ... but it is the reality of the situation.

If you do provide a service, not all hope is lost. Document your successes. Take a photograph of a service well-rendered. Contact past clients and ask them for a short testimonial describing the quality of your work. Consumers want to see something concrete, so even though you may be an auto mechanic, you still need to give them what they want.

Products are much easier to sell due to the fact that photographs can be posted and prices are usually concrete. Even though a consumer might have no need for yet another hand-woven scarf, they're going to see photographs with a wide variety of hand-woven scarf styles and get the pang. You know the pang. The pang is that thing that has you adding candy bars and magazines to your pile of groceries at the check out line. We're ALL susceptible to the pang.

Events are fun. Even if what you're selling is in actuality a service or product, why not make it into an event? Examples of events can be open houses, grand re-openings, welcome receptions ... it can even be as simple as a monthly or weekly promotion. "Place your order in the month of May and we'll throw in a honey-scented candle, on the house!" Consumers LOVE promotions.

2. Do you currently have an online presence?

I hate to say it kids, but it's the wave of right now - and considering all the do-it-yourself blog templates, the social networking sites, and the drag and drop web-building programs, you really have no excuse. Get online, and do it in a big way. It doesn't have to cost a lot. It doesn't have to be phony or pretentious. There are plenty of mom-and-pop or work-from-my-laptop-while-watching-the-Simpsons businesses out there who have polished, professional,full-service websites. The purpose of a website or other online presence is to give consumers an avenue for finding out about you. Unless you have a storefront on Church Street or are paying out daily/weekly/monthly for pricey print ads or radio commercials, people aren't going to know about you. If people don't know about you, people don't care about you. MAKE THEM CARE. An inexpensive, simple website and an hour spent online registering with google, yahoo, etc could make or break your business. And hey, it sure makes my job easier in terms of promoting you. I can post on PromoteVT all day long "Hey check out Joe, he makes pitchforks in a variety of pastel colors!" OR I can say "Joe's custom painted pitchforks are a must buy for Mother's Day. Check out Joe online at" See how I combined an EVENT and a WEBSITE?? Now if that doesn't make you want to buy a pastel pitchfork, I don't know what will.

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