What is it that your customers, clients or readers find special about you? Or, if you’re a new entrepreneur, professional or author, what do you think makes you different and special?
The answer to that question should be the foundation for your online marketing and, believe me, if you’re not promoting yourself online, you’re not promoting yourself!
The Internet is changing and that’s transforming the marketplace; today, anyone with a product, service or book to sell must learn how to build their reputation online and become an authority among Internet users.
The key is to first identify the qualities that set you apart, and then use them to build your brand online.
Two of my friends and business associates, John S. Rizzo, managing partner of Globe On-Demand Internet technology company, and his partner, V. Michael Santoro, are masters of online reputation marketing. They’re the co-authors of Niche Dominance, Creating Order Out of Your Digital Marketing Chaos (http://NicheDominance.com).
They recently wrote an article detailing how the Internet marketplace has changed and what you should do in response. I found it an interesting read, and thought you may as well:
The New Internet Sales Model: Don’t Sell …
Allow your Prospects to Buy
By John S. Rizzo and V. Michael Santoro
Gone are the days when a well-optimized website was all one needed for a Google page one ranking. Businesses now must expand their reach online and establish a relationship with potential customers through engaging content and by demonstrating that they care about providing solutions to their customers’ problems.
What’s driving this change?
Consumers are increasingly using technology to make buying decisions, from seeking out the best deals, to reading reviews. When consumers see a traditional advertisement, they’ll often use the Internet to get more information. Increasingly, they’re using their mobile devices and popular social media platforms to find and contact businesses.
Changing Customer Expectations
Customers expect businesses to convince them they’re serious about helping and not just trying to take their money. The benefits offered, including an ongoing commitment, are of paramount importance to them. These are the messages you must communicate to attract and keep new customers. Help them and they will remain loyal; disappoint them and not only will you lose them, they may destroy your reputation by posting bad reviews. Unlike unfavorable traditional press, which fades with time, a bad online review can endure indefinitely.
The Changing Digital Landscape
That consumer buying behavior – such as reading reviews – is analyzed by major search engine and social media companies such as Google and Facebook. They’re rapidly updating their technologies to better serve their users. They’re continually adding new features to retain and gain market share. This is causing chaos as well as overwhelming both digital marketing service providers, such as SEO and Pay Per Click specialists, and businesses. Difficulty understanding how to implement these changes into a sustainable digital marketing plan is affecting businesses’ and others’ online success.
How to Make a Profitable Transition to the New Internet
1. Review your mission statement, customer benefits, competitive advantage and marketing content.Most companies put the cart before the horse and have an employee begin making posts to a blog or Facebook page; or they hire vendors to begin online marketing activities to obtain more leads. But first make sure you understand what customers find special about you and how they benefit from your message. Make a list of the questions that your buyers ask and write down the answers. Make sure your marketing material aligns with your updated information.
2. Develop a 5-star reputation.
Online reviews have become critical to success; 72 percent of buyers trust reviews as much as personal recommendations and 70 percent trust consumer opinions posted online, according to a recent Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Survey. Begin by having your happy customers post great reviews about your business. Strive to have at least 10. Have each post to one of the following: Google+ Local, Yelp, CitySearch, SuperPages, YP.com, your Facebook Business page, LinkedIn, etc. This needs to be a continuous process. Proactively ask your customers to post reviews.
3. Market your reputation.
Once reviews are posted, use an online marketing strategy to drive targeted traffic to your website, which should be optimized to convert visitors into customers. Showcase your third-party reviews on your website. If you do not have an internal resource who thoroughly understands Internet marketing, hire a digital marketing consulting firm.
4. Manage Your Reputation
Regularly check that the reviews being posted are positive. You can use Google Alerts for your business name; however, you will need to check the local directories, too, since they’re not picked up by Google Alerts. By building up positive reviews, you can counter a poor one by sheer volume. You should also quickly post a reply to a negative review. Always be professional and indicate what action you have taken to remedy the situation.
Whether you’re running a big business, launching a one-person start-up, or publishing your first book, your success will hinge largely on how you set yourself apart from the crowd by providing people with something special.
Build that reputation and share it online. One of the most effective ways to do this is by being talked about in newspaper or magazine articles, almost all of which publish online, or on blogs. This gives you implicit endorsements by well-respected sources of information. What better way to distinguish yourself?