Are you in or very, very out?
Marketing is defined by the American Marketing Association as that “activity, … and process for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings (products, concepts and services) that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large. Internet marketing is therefore the guided application of the magical edge and vagaries of the world-wide web technology in creating, promoting and extensively selling all products, concepts and services.
Research shows that global use and dependence on the Internet is a phenomenon that cuts across every known and unknown spectrum of our living society. Streaming information about a household product, an industrial tool, business initiative or public sector program, has become an acceptable way of life in modern society. Internet service and technology have become a resource that penetrates every fabric of known and unknown spectrums of industry, commerce and human services.
From the remotest village huts of Somalia to the biggest corporations in North America. From South East Asia to the farthermost parts of the earth, every child owns a smartphone, a laptop or a Tablet with Internet access. Or, at least, has access to one. Home owners, business corporations; government agencies and military services all over the world depend on the Internet as a source of information and dissemination of same. Internet marketing has become an invaluable field and tool for building, driving and sustaining growth.
A plan to tap into this inexhaustible resource of Internet marketing, appears to very much be the surest road to success and growth in the 21 Century and beyond. And any plan to overlook its potentials is herewith pronounced tactical and operational suicide. For a business corporation and for a public sector agency alike. Internet marketing goes way beyond having a neat website and stuff. It goes beyond posting the right pictures of your products and certainly way beyond comparing profiles and performance trails with those of known and unknown competitors.
Effective Internet marketing involves proper definition and redefinition of your concept and brand. Branding! In this case, we are Branding not just for the regular faces we see and know. We are branding for prospective buyers, investors and consumers from all over the economic and socio-economic spectrum:
- Impulse Buyers, known and unknown, everywhere.
- Speculative buyers and clients (Bulls and Bears), known and unknown, everywhere.
- Thrift buyers, cautious buyers, buoyant spenders and carefree buyers.
- The intelligent well-informed, the half-and-half and the extreme less-informed.
- Proxy buyers and intermediaries.
- Corporate buyers, individuals and agency representatives.
One of the basic issues to consider in Internet marketing is to ensure that the winning concept and approach to Branding is measurably free from the emotions and biases of the developing team or personality. In most cases, professional thinking and consultation have become a sine-qua-non. We need people with the right information and approach. But where do we find them? On the Internet? Billboards and the yellow pages? Are they on the television talk shows or the many advertorials streaming all over the media screen? Yes and No. A few facts and factors must be put in check because we can delve into Internet marketing proper and before we can employ the services of an intermediary to launch us in this direction.
- Who is this person or intermediary?
- What is their level of formal and technical training?
- What is the basis of my choice of him (them)? The esthetics of their website? Some testimonial clip? And based on real informed knowledge, do they possess both the technical knowledge, the resources and the level of trust needed to move your operations forward?
- What is my (our) level of knowledge of what it takes?
- What is my (our) motivation? Friends? TV adverts and theatrics? Talk-show ideas, Facebook frenzies?
- What is my (our) level of commitment and compliance?
- Resources and financial consideration.
Reaching and influencing the audience.
The goal of any Internet marketing plan in to reach and influence the response and response patterns of the intended audience. The ability of marketing strategies to reach these goals with a positive impact, equals profit and operational success. And the ability to maintain this trend over a period of time amounts to growth. On the other hand, failure to attain or sustain profit levels and operational successes equates decline.
A winning marketing strategy must address all known and unknown growth impacts and the absence thereof. This is where skilled marketing, operational review and process management planning comes in. Many times, we need a real process manager or consulting manager with a proven track record in this area before delving into full-blast internet marketing, or as part of our marketing plan, as a matter of fact. With this ground covered, we will now talk about presentation.
We must create an enhanced presentation. One that focuses and highlights a problem calling for a solution. We must project your product or concept as a possible solution to this problem. We have to ensure that your audience has an easy access to more information about the product however and whenever they want it. Sometimes, adding a simple hub to your website is just all it takes. A hub to list all of your products in their categories and price ranges. The enhanced website for Internet marketing should include different page, image and text structures, to ensure variety.
Public trust and compliance issues:
Every Internet marketing plan must take into consideration the fact that Internet fraud and improprieties have become a public nightmare and that any suspicion and suggestion of same will become national news in a jiffy. If it doesn’t qualify for national news, the loss of customers and customer trust is an equally devastating punishment no business or agency can afford. The following hints will help build a viable and sustainable Internet marketing plan:
- Active and functional website: The first and foremost factor in internet marketing is to the website. We must make sure you have a website, and that the website is active and up to date.
- Pricing, Quality and corporate integrity: Among the things that erode customer confidence in darling companies and businesses include, incoherent pricing and price irregularities, bogus deals and discount offers.
- Provide proper training and motivation: Operators at every level of the marketing plan and delivery system must be provided with proper training and motivation.
- Quality control policy and standards: The WYSIWYG (What You See is What You Get) principle is what took IBM and many computer hardware manufactures to highest levels of excellence and growth at the beginning of this century. That culture is long gone. And that’s why there is a whole heck of mistrust between consumers and producers of goods and services at various levels of the economic tree.
- Complete onsite purchase, payment and delivery processing: Companies and agencies that have the best features in these areas appear to be the ones always on top in their economic sectors for success and growth.
- Rich and active CRM features: If customers are able to do all their transaction on your website, receive valid payment and delivery notifications, as well as other alerts and information relevant to their purchases and transactions, they are encouraged to come back.
- Thank you notes and short surveys: For a customer to receive a short thank you note personalized to him or her after a transaction has been completed and goods delivered, is a good sign that his patronage is valued and appreciated. Often, such customers are the ones who willingly take your customer service surveys.
- Business URL and other web links: Ensure to have your business URL on your business cards all the time. This is a simple way of increasing traffic to your site. People are more open to visiting a website if it is directly connected to someone they have met.
- Financial plan – A must: The idea of a financial plan appears to be left to big corporations and government agencies. People consider them expensive and, unnecessary. But the success of your marketing plan and its continuance lies almost completely on the presence of a financial plan. In my opinion, before ever you launch a web-based marketing drive, a financial plan is a must in order for you to determine what you can and cannot do.
- Maximum financial returns at minimal costs: Never spend more money than you have or anticipate to have in a given period of time. The ultimate goal of business is maximum returns at minimal costs. And this should be the goal of the Internet marketing strategy.
- Borrow and Copy with caution: Modeling your business and marketing plan after someone else’s must be done with a lot of caution. What made company A to flourish in California might become a Waterloo for another company is Maryland, and so on.
- Define your brand: Brand identity is a crucial ingredient of success and growth in any field. You need to separate yourself from the pack. It’s truly not a good thing if customers cannot tell you or your competition apart.
- Following someone else’s theories and business models: This must be done with uttermost caution. And you must be willing to consult experts where necessary. You don’t have to succumb to the cut-throat ambiguous professional charges out there. Look for my contact links. Call me. You will be grateful you did.
- Deep discounts and other attractive incentives: Advertising deep discounts to site patrons that make large or multiple-item purchases is a very attractive marketing tool. If customers know that they can get one item for 50%, 20% or 10% of the price after paying for two at the regular price, there is a huge chance they’d end up spending a little more during any visit to your website than they originally would.
When you step into the world of Internet marketing fully equipped with the right tools and information as discussed in the foregoing, you position yourself and your business not only to success and huge sales + profits, but growth and sustained economic progress become natural. By following this model, you are going to open your business up to many different people and consumer platforms in unknown regions all over the world. And by learning how to become successful at internet marketing, your product or service will be better known. Thus you become successful in business and flourish with streams of income flowing in.
Steve C. Ibeawuchi, M.Com