Know Thy Market: Beyond The Click-Through

    March 7, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

In marketing, with few exceptions, there’s no umbrella or blanket model that can be applied. Even if Coca-Cola’s omnipresent branding has worked over the decades because soft drinks are for everybody, most products are intended for select groups of buyers, target markets, with different motivations.

Know Thy Market: Beyond The Click-Through
Know Thy Market: Beyond The Click-Through

So, when we talk about concepts like "presence," especially for online campaigns and search marketing, knowing where your presence is requested, even appreciated, is the fundamental first step.

Though that seems obvious, especially to those in the offline marketing biz, squeak about like a mouse at any search marketing discussion forum, and the concept of branding, or presence, is one that, when talked about at all, dissenting voices quaver with dismissal, asking in unison, "where’s the ROI?"

Click click click, what is clicked, how many times, and how often it results in a sale. That’s all they want to know. And yes, the bottom line is always important. But there are other things to consider if you want to be in this game a long time.

1.    Word’s gotten out. This online business thing is the real deal, paying real money. The tenuous pussyfooters, spooked by dotcom bubbles and skeptical about online business have noticed, just as suddenly as they realized their cousins and coworkers were serious about Internet romance, the shiny new cars sitting outside their too-young-to-have-that-much-money neighbor’s house. Competition is mounting online, swelling into a wave larger than any physical world could contain. And you have to set yourself apart.

2.    Therefore, do not go gently into that good night. You must know the market to whom you are selling, why they buy, when they buy, and especially, where they live and hangout. But when I say "do not go gently," it is without a connotation of bombardment – this isn’t about harassing the customer – it’s about being there throughout their buying journey, like a friendly billboard.

The journey begins with a spark of interest that can be ignited almost anywhere, from any source (the best source is a buddy), but no matter where the interest originates, it’s your responsibility as a marketer to be present along all paths during the research phase, where interest is fostered and encouraged. It goes without saying your product must be better than the swelling competition’s, and if you’ve done your job with "the sales pyramid," fostering interest with ubiquity, accessibility, and highlighting why your product is better, then closing should be a cinch. But whatever happens, you must be better than the competition, and everybody has to be believe it.

3.    Search marketers seem prone to focus on the closing, the click-through, and not so much on the relationship with the customer. Think of it this way: in the cartoons of old, two characters are stranded on a small desert island. It doesn’t take long until one sees the other as a pork chop, and the pork chop doesn’t appreciate it one bit. If customers become dollar signs in your hungry approach to them, they’ll sense it, and avoid you the best they can. It’s important to eat, everyone knows, and click-throughs and bottom lines are what make the whole endeavor worth it. But there’s an art to seduction, and if achieved, loyalty results – closing one sale one time has little bearing on long-term success. Success, ultimately, takes closing many sales many times over.

So, with all that high-minded philosophical motivational stuff in mind, let’s consider this idea of presence as it exists online. Branding is presence. Michelob spends a lot of money making sure its brand is in bars and other places where people buy beer. Online, it’s the same idea. Where is the target market? Take your message there. This goes beyond search and tedious keyword lists. This is presence on the right blogs, the right publications, on MySpace, on Wikipedia, on, on YouTube. You must be known, and you must be known in the correct places.

In a recent report on lead generation released by Rain Today, two very key tips emerged:

 ·  Brand matters: 65% of well known companies report being good or excellent at lead generation whereas only 44% of not well known companies report being good or excellent. If you are well known whatever lead generation tactics you employ are likely to work better.

·  Know your target market: Targeting and segmentation are the first steps to any lead generation or marketing effort. Of those companies that rated themselves as excellent at lead generation, 51% know the actual names of the decision makers there are trying to reach (compared to meek 13% of companies that rated themselves as poor at lead generation).        

LeeAnn Prescott‘s analysis of the marketing approaches of Microsoft and Apple, and then I’ll let you go.

Apple didn’t spend much on the initial promotion of iPhone. Steve Jobs showed it at a conference, bloggers took over, the viral effect took hold just like it’s supposed to. Searches for iPhone took off like a deadbeat dad, rising to number 55 on Search’s most wanted list. Jobs knows his market: young, Internet savvy early adopters.

Microsoft, on the contrary, spent a ton of money to promote Vista, online and off. This is because the market was older, more inclined to stick with what they know already, reluctant to learn new things, and needed a lot of encouragement to upgrade. Vista didn’t have the type of viral, swollen hysteria iPhone did, but searches rose significantly nonetheless, because the right people were interested.

"Both companies understand their audience and their challenges," writes Prescott. "Apple inspires a cult-like following, while Microsoft gets little love, despite its OS market dominance. The gulf between the appropriate tactics to reach these different audiences is ever widening, and thus reinforces the importance of understanding who your customers are and how they seek out and consume information."




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