I recently received a lovely email from a reader of my book Beyond the Niche: Essential Tools You Need to Create Marketing Messages that Deliver Results who wrote:
“I took a copy of your book with me on vacation, It’s so good! I’d love more sections on online stuff though.”
I have to say, when I was writing the book – I never envisioned it would serve as beach reading material. 🙂
This reader’s comment illustrates a common misconception that many business owners have about marketing: that marketing your business online is substantially different than marketing your business offline.
The reason I wrote the book was to provide a guide to my clients about the foundational work which needed to be done before they could even begin to think about creating a web site that acted as a marketing tool for their business. When I left the world of traditional advertising in 1997 to launch my web consultancy – I noticed a distinct difference in client expectations when it came to marketing and the web.
As an account executive with an advertising agency and then later in the more “mommy friendly” field of media sales – my clients had a solid understanding of the fundamentals of marketing. My brick and mortar clients understood that offline marketing was all about communicating with prospective customers. However, when I shifted my focus from traditional media to the web – it seemed as if my new clients didn’t possess the same level of understanding of the basics needed to successfully advertise their business on the web.
So after almost a decade after I launched my web development consultancy – I wrote the book which answered the questions I had been asked most often over the course of working with literally hundreds of small business owners. Even though I’d been working on the web for nearly a decade, as the kind reader pointed out above – there is not a single chapter dedicated to online marketing.
The reason is simple – because once you have a sound marketing strategy in place – it doesn’t matter whether your marketing your business online or offline – the principles remain the same. Once you’ve mastered the dance steps, you can perform the same dance routine to a wide variety of music once you recognize the beat.
The beat is fast and furious when it comes to the web. When I wrote the book, MySpace was THE social network while Facebook was a site which restricted membership to college students with an .edu email address. Recently the Social Media Examiner blog asked about three up and coming location based social networks in the blog post “Foursquare vs. Gowalla vs. MyTown: Which Is Better for Business?”
If you’re a brick and mortar business owner – and your customers have their eyes glued to their iPhone – you had better get up to speed quickly on the advantages of each of the location based social networks mentioned by Peter Wylie in his post above.
That’s why the focus on my book – written almost 5 years ago – does not focus upon the concepts behind advertising and marketing your business online. The online landscape is constantly changing and the marketing tactic that worked in 2005 on MySpace will probably fall flat in 2010.
Marketing your business on MySpace was a marketing tactic. Creating a marketing message which appeals to male age 18-24 is a marketing strategy. In 2005 – the marketing tactic to implement as part of the marketing strategy meant creating a message which would be seen by a young man sitting at his desktop computer who spent his time on MySpace In 2010 – it means creating a message which will be seen by a young man who is holding an iPhone or any of the hundreds of “smart cell phones” on the market today.
If you’re a business owner – create a sound marketing strategy which includes a clear and concise picture of exactly who your target audience is. Once you have done that, the rest is simply performing those dance steps as the music of the moment is playing.