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March 29, 2012, 5:00 am UTC
Yesterday during a meeting with a client I was asked from where should his company start the online marketing process? How he should embark on the exciting ride on the Internet?
As an definitive answer to the above question, the advices or plans given by “experts” to small businesses include starting with a website followed by creating Facebook page and Twitter profile then doing some promotion, or may be lot of promotion using SEO, PPC, banner ads, and social media.
On the face of it, the above suggestion looks rock solid and that is why everyone on the receiving end goes out to execute it, only to realize, after wasting some serious time and money on developing the said website, that this plan does not work. Not because there is any problem in the plan but because a critical element is missing. It is this element that decides the fate of any business enterprise.
When preparing the above plan or executing it, the advisor as well as businessman has taken one thing for granted, which is the customers’ mindshare, or share of customers’ voice, if you may. The hole through which all the hard works and investment leaked out was not putting customers in the mix.
So where to start from?
As the title suggests, it all starts in the mind. When planning to take your business online, you need to first ask what your customers want? No matter what you do, or what you are planning to do, the first thing to take into consideration is customers mind. Once you understand that, everything else will fall in line.
Let’s understand the importance of peeing into your customers’ mind and where it fit in the equation. Let us begin at the beginning, which is to define niche and conducting keyword research. In this step you do not look merely for words that your customers type in to a search engine when he or she has to look for products or information from your niche, your goal rather is to know what is going in the mind of a customer when he or she types a certain word.
For example, if someone types out “Chinese food”, you need to know what is the purpose of typing this word? Is the person using the above phrase looking for Chinese food in his location (say Delhi), or is he trying to know about different types of Chinese food, or is he trying to find a restaurant which delivers food at home?
There are many more possibilities, but the above example is enough to suggest that just knowing the term is not enough, you will need to know about the purpose of such terms, which you can judge by peeping into your customers’ mind.
Even when you are designing a website, you need to keep usability in your mind, which is nothing but how customers will interact with your website. This step is followed by content creation, which essentially is providing information that customers want. Customers’ need and want also feature when you try to promotion because then also you need to find either keywords or location where you want to advertise, or both. And when doing so you do not just go out and buying advertisement anywhere or buy PPC campaign for any term.
Not defining your niche and narrowing down your target when buying ads is a surefire way to bankruptcy, which no one enjoys. So you go ahead and segment your customers based on the terms they search and things they want.
As you can see from above that understanding customers and using it as first step in the process of online marketing is very important. This, for many businesses, could be the only difference between success and failure.
April 22, 2013, 5:55 am UTC
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