Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Three Rs of Online Marketing

The phrase the "Three Rs" represent the foundation of skills taught to young people in school - Reading, Writing and (a)Rithmetic.

In Online Marketing there are also three basic Rs:

Relevance

Referrals

Right Place/Right Time

The first of these, Relevance, is the most important. It is no longer possible to throw your message out into the wide world and hope that it will hit the right people, unless your business has such enormous funds and is so ubiquitous that it is quite impossible to go ten feet without seeing some sign of your existence. Think McDonald's.

People want what they want, where they want, how they want it. Search Engine Optimization is an online marketing tactic that addresses this through Search Engine use. If a person searches for New York Wedding Photographer, SEO is one tactic to drive you to the top of those results.

But Search Engines aren't the only way people find things. People also ask other people for advice.

As I've said here many times, knowing *where* your audience is, is as crucial to your business as your brand identity. If you are sinking time and money into a Facebook page and your audience is really talking on a specialty forum, you're missing your target.

You want to be where your audience is, giving them something relevant to their interests, needs and desires.

Which is where the second R comes in. Referrals are the lifeblood of online marketing.

Satisfied customers tell other people. Most people want their close friends and family to like what they like (and take it as a personal affront when they don't, which is why heated arguments about sports teams can make family gatherings hugely uncomfortable.) When you have a favorite restaurant, you want to share the experience with people you care about. It's mortifying when that restaurant has an off day when you bring your best friend and spouse for a meal there.

As Pete Blackshaw says, "Satisfied Customers Tell Three Friends, Angry Customers Tell 3,000."

Social Media is the easiest way for you to engage those satisfied customers and give them an outlet and a method to tell the world how satisfied they are. Encourage them to share deals on Twitter or Facebook with available widgets, email friends with news, fan, friend, follow or connect with them online. Make the referral as easy as possible.

Another old adage that's truer now than ever before is "It's not what you know, it's who you know." The more people you know, the more likely it is that one of them will think of you when they need something you can give them. Which brings us to the third R: Right Place/Right Time.

A smart business owner leverages their social network to make as many opportunities as possible. Many of them will not work out, but some will - all because you were in the right place at the right time and knew the right people.

Social Media networking is an important strategy for business development. You have to be where your audience is, you need to make it easy for them to refer you and you want to be in the right place at the right time.

With these three Rs in your pocket, you're already steps ahead of your competition who are still throwing out messages into a wide world that doesn't know why it should care.
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