Several weeks ago, a Harris Interactive poll found that 80% of the U.S. adult population, 184 million people, are now spending an average of 13 hours per week on the Internet—doubling since 1999.
As the population continues to transition to using the Internet for business, purchases, finding information, and myriad personal uses, it is clear that traditional go-to-market strategies are no longer a guarantee that you will achieve your business objectives. In fact, with the continued explosion of Social Media the fundamental role of business marketing itself is shifting, from “advertising” to “engaging”. One measure of this is–recent studies show that 78 percent of customers value recommendations from their peers, while only 14 percent trust traditional advertisements.
So how does a small or medium-sized business succeed in such a rapidly changing, and diverse environment? By understanding their target market– how they look for goods, services, and information– and leveraging the right combination of marketing tools and techniques to reach them, whether traditional or online.
There is still a place for traditional marketing, and I advocate a blended approach. However with the increased comfort that people have using the internet and with the increasing time people spend online, companies should consider re-purposing a significant amount of their marketing budgets to take advantage of internet marketing.
The key to success is taking a comprehensive and holistic approach to your internet marketing strategy. A holistic approach treats marketing as a single integrated strategy and approach, rather than a list of stand-alone marketing initiatives. There are a multitude of ways to reach your target market, including “push” based, “pull” based, “permission” based, and “engaging” your market in an ongoing conversation. To be most effective in achieving your objectives, you need to develop and execute a blended approach based on how your target market finds what it is looking for and makes decisions.
Your marketing strategy is influenced by a variety of factors, and will be unique to your company. Even so, there are a number of core internet marketing techniques that you should consider when developing your go-to-market strategy:
- Search engine optimization
- Paid search marketing
- Social Media marketing
- Email marketing
- Social bookmarking, social networking, social tagging
- Article marketing
- Press Release marketing
- Websites designed to optimize conversions
Yet when combined with traditional marketing initiatives like advertising, direct mail, telemarketing, and tradeshows, there are an almost overwhelming number of opportunities. So how do you decide what to include in your go-to-market plan?
It goes back to knowing your target market and answering some basic questions. Who are they? What are the most prevalent ways they search for what they need? Which marketing techniques enable you to reach them or be found when they are looking? Is your website designed to welcome your target market and facilitate conversions? What combinations of techniques ensure that you can lead the prospect through the cycle, from creating awareness to converting the prospect? How do you continue to engage and nurture your existing customers to retain them and keep them coming back for more? How big is your budget? Do you have the expertise internally or do you need to go outside for help?
Developing a go-to-market strategy isn’t something you do every day. But executing it is. Create your plan annually, measure the results monthly and even weekly, and update your plan quarterly or as needed. One of the benefits of internet marketing techniques is that they can be started, stopped, and changed almost immediately. This enables you to react to and even anticipate changing market conditions and get ahead of them.
It’s not as hard as may sound. But you do need to commit to the process, and have someone lead you through it who understands digital marketing in this rapidly changing world and how to develop and execute an integrated marketing strategy.