A long time ago, (1991) in a far off place, (here, then) the internet was played out on BBS boards and travel agency offices in a DOS world. They really didn’t know much about each other, but there they were, none the less; seeds of today’s internet. On one hand, the airlines were delivering their product to consumers through the travel agents. On the other hand, a community of like minded citizens was forming for every kind of interest with anybody who could get their TRS80 hooked up to a telephone line.
Somebody came up with the bright idea to create WWW and soon thereafter http. As the phenomenon gathered momentum, the folks from the BBS world bemoaned the encroaching commercial onslaught on their beloved communication tool and, well, travel agents… are hard to come by now and treated as a nuisance by the airlines today.
I don’t need to tell you what went on between then and now, because you’ve hopefully been here for this part of the story! So, lets fast forward through trillions of dollars of online commerce and a googol worth of forum posts to find yourself at the doorstep of the end of the first full decade of the internet. Whew!
For those purists that thought that communication and collaboration would take a back seat to finding a size 6 pair of red shoes…how wrong you were! Today we can join a community of red shoe wearers and the size 6 group will tell you which ones will work out best for you. We didn’t let the wheels of commerce get in our way of collaborating! Instead, as humans, we found a way to micro niche the heck out of every facet of life.
So, I ask you this. If you are a business in today’s’ hyper-informed world, are you in on the conversation? You might think you are. But it can’t hurt to get a check up! Here is what it takes:
Web Site – Seems simple enough. But do you have a site that fits the needs of your customer? Is your information and pricing easy to find. Is it easy to get my questions answered? It better be because I’m in a hurry and those that make it “plain as day” win.
SEO – Have you had your site optimized so that it can be found on the search engines? Do you allocate some effort each month to grow that asset? Some have and some haven’t – and – some haven’t done it right. If all sites were optimized, I wouldn’t be writing this because I’d be out of a job. We could also throw a subset of PPC and media buys in here. These tactics are all designed to attract people to your offer.
After you have these two basics down you are ready to get into the meat of today’s marketing. I call it “the conversation”.
Blog – Step one is blogging. This is good for so many reasons that have to do with the two basics above. But more importantly, it enters you into the conversation going on out there (or is that here?). You become a voice about what interests you. In time, you may even become recognized as an “expert” which can be worth some hefty bonus points.
Social Media – One of the latest acronyms to know, hands down, is SMM. Social Media Marketing is the art of conversing and collaborating with an agenda. After all, everyone has an agenda. So, why not use yours to grow your business? Beware, though; when you start conversing dynamically in the social world it’s very easy to shoot ones foot. Social Media Marketing is also the fine art of listening. It is not about shouting that you have the best red shoes. That is for other people to decide. Your job is to provide information, instruction and a level of intelligent compassion when you start walking around the streets of Facebook, Twitter, Technorati and the gazillion of other large and small places where business can interact smartly with their customers and potential customers.
Many people will not engage in the conversation for fear of doing something stupid or looking bad. Still others will put it aside for lack of time. If you join either of these camps you lose the opportunity to be “in” on the conversation going on around you. The conversation is like a fresh garden in need of cultivation every morning. So get out there and “make it a great day!”