2 September 2009
2 September 2009,
Use Multiple Online Media to Present Your Marketing Message

The days of driving local business by simply having the biggest Yellow Pages ad are over. The Internet has become the key to a thriving business for many local businesses. In fact, it is often the single greatest source of new business, outpacing mass media advertising, direct marketing, and referrals.

But along with this change in the marketing landscape comes a concern: How can a local business grow its market share in an environment like the Internet? Many business owners come to me with confusion written all over their faces.

My advice to them? Don’t think of the Internet as a single medium. Understand that the Internet is a microcosm of all of the other kinds of marketing that you do. In order to use the Internet effectively, you need to layer three different marketing efforts over one another.

Those three are:
1. An effective website—Your website acts as your store (or office), and your sales and customer service staff. It displays your brand and it supports marketing efforts initiated outside of your website. If it has been properly optimized, your website should also be able to be found in “natural” search engine results for appropriate keyword phrases.
2. Well-planned search engine advertising—Paid advertising allows you greater control over how and what potential customers learn about you. When a paid ad appears alongside “natural” results, it also improves your credibility as a leading provider of goods and services.
3. A focus on online reputation management—This is the Internet version of referral marketing. But it can be so much more powerful. Now a good or bad experience with your company won’t just spread to a past customer’s friends. It could be available to anyone looking for your company on a search engine!
As the Internet continues to evolve, reputation management is becoming very important. More and more sites encourage “user-generated content,” including blogs, forums, social networking sites, etc.

For businesses, there are three consumer review sites that can be especially important.

The most influential of the online consumer review sites (possibly because of their Google partnership?), Yelp.com was just named among the “50 Best Websites” by Time Magazine in it’s August 24 issue.

CitySearch.com is part of a network of sites that includes two other review sites—InsiderPages.com and MerchantCircle.com. But, its most unique feature allows you to post a comment made on CitySearch.com to your Facebook page, so that you can immediately spread your opinion to all of your Facebook friends.

JudysBook.com promotes itself as a “Book of Local Secrets.” Like the others, Judysbook.com allows consumers to post reviews of local businesses. But, it also allows them to post lists of the “best” or “worst” providers in a particular category.

These three are important not only because they have significant web traffic. They also can be expected to show up in search results for your company. So, someone searching for your services may find a review on page one along with your website and a pay-per-click ad. If it’s a good review, good for you. If it’s not, well…

If you want to know more, contact me by phone or email.

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