For instance, Twitter just celebrated 5 years online and LinkedIn just signed up its 100 millionth member.
These milestones may not have generated much fanfare, but to the savvy small business marketer, they demonstrate how online news and information are becoming highly prized commodities.
Ironically, thanks to smart phones and tablet computers, fewer people want to pay for it.
With information becoming a hot commodity, its abundance can lead to scarcity of something your business needs: attention.
- In 10 Years Newspaper Classified Revenue Has Fallen 92% – Classified advertising was long a major money maker for the newspaper industry. But since 2000, the floor has dropped out of the classified advertising market. See the chart here.
- Adults Don’t Pay for News On Tablets and Mobile Devices – The graphic at this link illustrates the disconnect between adults that are currently paying for news and the growth of news consumption on mobile devices. This data shows that payment for news and information isn’t keeping pace with consumption.
- 47% of American Adults Get Local News On a Mobile Device – Nearly half of all American adults (47%) report that they get at least some local news and information on their cellphone or tablet computer. See the survey.
- Americans Say They’d Feel Little or No Impact If Newspapers Closed – 39% of people surveyed said they would feel no impact if their local newspapers shut down. 30% said it would have a minor impact, but only 28% said the impact would be major.
- 75% of U.S. Adults Unwilling to Pay For Online News – About three-quarters of respondents to the survey of 2,251 U.S. adults said they wouldn’t be willing to pay anything for online news if their newspapers failed to survive.
- 65% of Mobile Connected American Adults Feel It Is Easier to Keep Up With News – 65% feel that today it is easier to keep up with information about their community than it was five years ago (vs. 47% of nonmobile connectors)
- 47% of American Adults Use Their Cellphones and Tablet Computers to Get Local News and Information
The online information age is feeding people’s information consumption at an increasing rate.
The downside is that with so much news & information at their fingertips, people can quickly become overloaded.
To capture the fleeting attention of your prospects and convert them to leads requires your business to become a content creator and to harness the power of search engines and social media.
Relevant content combined with inbound marketing tactics like search engine optimization, social media marketing and blogging will enable your business to adapt to the new information landscape.
You’re using the power of the Web to market your small business online.
Your permission database is growing.
You’re using social media to connect with potential customers online.
You may not realize it, but you’ve also picked up a new job title.
You’re now a publisher of content.
The content that you create online is an essential part of the value you’re offering your customers. The useful information you provide is what keeps prospects and customers coming back to your site.
“The hardest thing is you really need to figure out what you want to create. Because let’s face it, content is a beast. Once you start doing it, to do it right, this is not a one and done thing. This isn’t, oh, we’re going to set up the website and then forget about it. This is something that has to become part of your core DNA, that you keep doing on a regular basis”
The good news according to Chapman is that your content doesn’t have to be perfect to be effective. It will improve with time, but a few rough edges here and there actually show authenticity.
You’ll need to consider how your customers consume content. Do they need a snack or a 5 course meal?
If you’re having trouble creating new content, it may be time to ask yourself “What else can we do with existing content?” You’ll want to repurpose your content–not just recycle.
Here is where content curation can help you pull together relevant content for your Hub community.
This is done by pulling together content from the top resources from your industry to supplement the content you’re already producing.
Be sure to link back to the originals and add your own comments as to why you’re sharing it.
Chapman cautions that content curation is not a replacement for content creation.
Your content can be in the form of blog articles, online videos, e-books, white papers, podcasts, etc. The goal is to pull people into your community by earning their trust.
It may take some time to get going, but publishing substantial and valuable content that engages and educates your target audience is critical to building your hub.
It’s like standing with your feet firmly placed in two separate canoes that are slowly drifting apart. At some point, you must commit to one or the other–or get soaked.
This principle also applies to marketing your small business. The straddling strategy doesn’t work there either.
Straddling is when a business tries to occupy multiple positions in the marketplace without fully committing to any of them.
It sends a message of indecision and uncertainty to your customers. It robs your business of the credibility that is the lifeblood of Hub Mentality.
Here are three solid reasons from Marketing Beyond Advertising’s Tom Wanek on why you should avoid such a strategy:
- Straddling dilutes your limited resources. Most small business owners just don’t have the capital necessary to occupy more than one position in the marketplace. Generally speaking, a straddling strategy requires additional advertising, inventory and expertise. And as you know, successful business owners sip their available resources and wisely spend every asset they own.
- Adopting a straddling strategy prevents you from developing a unified vision. What happens when your employees find themselves confronted by conflicting organizational goals and objectives? Do they know which goal bows a knee to the other? Do you? Employees (and your customers) need to know what your company stands for, and what it opposes. Moreover, straddling often sparks conflict between what you are saying and who you are being, which shatters credibility.
- Straddling results in quiet, understated ad copy. Powerful marketing messages make a statement by choosing who to lose. Weak marketing messages attempt to please everyone, and in the end, please no one.
Wanek also differentiates between straddling and extending your brand. There’s a world of difference.
The key to remember is that a proper brand extension must contain a string of value-based activities to demonstrate your commitment to the customer.
Committed relationships require good communication, trust and transparency. These are exactly what you need to develop and retain your customers.
It’s part of sending your customers the right message.
Ironically, the same online environment has depersonalized the sales/lead relationship that drives business.
A lead-generation Web site can effectively bring prospects to your door, if you have the right content, message and process.
Among the gems you’ll find in this paper are the reasons prospects fail to convert to leads:
- They don’t understand the value they get in exchange for giving their information.
- They are informationally challenged and collect too little, too much, or incorrect information.
- You haven’t established trust and set proper expectations of what to expect when doing business with you.
If you wish to create the proper targeted content, you’ll need to ask certain questions to pinpoint your prospect’s sticking points.
- Do you know exactly what your sales team considers a qualified lead?
- Do you know exactly how the lead to customer sales process unfolds?
- What are the obstacles prospects might face when they research their options?
- What are the questions your prospects ask as they go about making their decisions?
- What questions arise at different stages of the buying decision process?
Prospects have to be able to picture themselves reaping the benefits of your product or service. When your content helps them see this, the trust and value factor tips in your favor.
When creating a business website, the essential questions that must be asked include:
- Whom are we trying to persuade to take the action?
- What is the action we want someone to take?
- What does that person need in order to feel confident taking that action?
These questions are the backbone of FutureNow’s proprietary Persuasion Architecture method.
By considering each step your prospect takes along the way to conversion, you’ll better understand the content you need to provide. The right content will build the necessary trust to help you convert individuals into buyers.
You’ll also persuade more effectively when you speak to your prospect’s personal and business needs, intentions, buying styles and propensity to purchase.
For instance: Should you spend on demand generation or brand investment?
Branding has been characterized as a “rich man’s game,” but your brand is the identity that keeps you recognizable to your customers. It’s what makes their eyes light up when they pick you out of a crowd.
Effectively marketing your brand on a tight budget requires picking the brand investments that deliver tangible value, preserve brand equity and mitigate risk.
- Poor Strategic Rationale – Celebrities can afford a nip/tuck from time to time just for the newness of it. Your brand cannot. Don’t touch your identity unless there is a sound strategic reason to do so.
- Obscure Naming or Renaming – Names are often the most vital brand asset a company owns. We measure unaided name awareness and attempt to track how consumers link product attributes to brand names. It requires time and money to establish these associations.
- Clever Brand Advertising Splash – It’s the kind of advertising campaign that doesn’t contain a call-to-action – it’s just designed to promote core brand attributes. This mode of advertising is essential for a brand launch, but it’s hard to justify for established brands when budgets are tight.
- Topical but Over-Reactive Messaging Campaigns – A brand messaging platform should be evergreen. Unlike promotional messaging or product messaging, brand messaging should remain fairly constant during the ups and downs of the market.
- An Obligatory Social Media Push – Sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn offer tremendous possibilities for brands, but the opportunities should be explored strategically, not because there is an obligation to introduce the brand in those channels. Too many companies spend hard-earned money to launch their brands on Twitter with nothing to say, no guideline on how to say it, and no strategy on how to respond to those who decide to engage in conversation.
Having pointed out what to avoid, Vincent goes on to suggests focusing your branding efforts on brand architecture simplification, message alignment and brand health.
The brand that makes you familiar to your customers is an asset, not an expense. In good or bad economic times, your customers place value on what’s trusted and recognizable. Your brand strategies should maintain that value.