August 14, 2012 | Posted By: Colleen Cassidy

Cancelling an advertising budget sounds like a pretty drastic step, but if you are aiming for more cost effective customer acquisition and longer lasting relationships between your customers and your brand, here are some facts to consider:

  • 86% of viewers are skipping TV Ads
  • 44% of direct mail is never opened
  • 66% of Americans are on the FTC’s Do Not Call List
  • 91% of an email list’s recipients are likely to unsubscribe

Pushing mass media messages in the form of advertising is known as outbound marketing.  You know it well.  And when you’re the target, you pretty much dread it. It represents an old tradition in which you were forced to accept marketing messages, typically as interruptions to your favorite choice of entertainment. Sounds kinda rude, don’t you think?

Savvy entrepreneurs have refocused their efforts on attracting customers to their brand via inbound marketing. Rather than interrupting consumers with one-size fits all TV spots or half-page ads, you create great content and consumers find you!  In this realm, content is king.  Admit it, attraction sounds like a more satisfying way to build a relationship, doesn’t it?

Here’s why this style of marketing works: customers who are most excited about making a purchase are those who need to solve a persistent problem or need to answer a nagging question.  They actively search for a solution.

What’s more, motivated customers who find solutions are more likely to share their discoveries with friends and colleagues via social networks.   Read that last sentence again.  This is important because 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family over any other form of advertising.  Love data nuggets like this one?  Here are a slew of social marketing stats that will blow your mind.

OK, NOW WHAT?

Develop a marketing strategy around the following three pillars:  SEO, Social Media and Social Sharing.   These overarching tactics, when used together, maximize your brand’s digital footprint.

Block some time in your calendar right now to have a high-level conversation with your team about these pillars. The sooner the better.  This doesn’t have to be boring, either.   Brainstorm like crazy about all the different kinds of share-worthy content you can create.

Pillar #1:  SEO – Create your content

Get found.  Period.  Create content that is indexed by search engines.  Focus on content that that is relevant to your prospects needs. Make yourself the eminent resource for bee hives, vinyl records or industry whitepapers.

Be a beacon of light in an otherwise glib and foggy world.

Pillar #2:  Use social media to distribute your content

Businesses that are most successful with social media regularly communicate their values such as humor, charity, passion, extravagance – you know, all those things that customers actually find interesting – along with the nuts and bolts of their products or service.

For example, Shoeboxed, a company that produces software to help their customers keep track of their paper receipts has a “Messiest Desk” contest whereby the company gives away free electronics to anyone who posts a picture of the messiest desk.  Interestingly, you won’t find notice of this contest on the front page of their website, but you will find it easily on their Facebook page.

Home improvement stores such and Lowes and Home Depot create fun, informative how-to videos for YouTube that can easily be found in search results.   They entertain while simultaneously mentioning the hardware that customers can pick up at a nearby location to get the job done.

Pillar #3:  Social sharing

In all that you do – the blog posts, videos, whitepapers and all other collateral – make it share-worthy, i.e. compelling enough for your customers to tell their friends.

Here’s a tip:  Look at your marketing team and hone in on what makes each of them unique as a person.   Is there someone on your team that is really funny?  Try humor.   Is someone highly opinionated about the direction of you industry?  Try insight or controversy.  Is someone on your ecommerce team a hipster with his pulse on what’s cool now?  Try curated, featured products on your homepage, a “staff picks” module.

  • Insight
  • Humor
  • Controversy
  • Curation

Your most desirable audience, the ‘influencer,’ has evolved away from (or completely shunned) the marketing tactics of old.  Why push a message in the hope you might force a few prospects to be interested?  Especially when you can focus your efforts on those who are already looking for you and who are most likely to evangelize your brand through social sharing.

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