It is clear for all Small Business Owners and Marketing Executives working for large and small companies alike that they internet has to be somehow used in their business. There is of course a great deal of confusion around when it comes to how to use technology tools such as
- Social Media
- Web 2.0
- Video Marketing
- Search Engine Optimization
… to enhance any business. I emphasise the word enhance as this comes up often during my business strategy consulting or training sessions. Often companies have spent 10s of 1000s of GPB or US$ maybe on a ‘fancy looking website or more often than not on some paid advertising campaign after which they are not able to demonstrate any real returns for the business.
Just as in the training session I gave last week to executives of a client in Paris, I stress the point to view the internet as part of the company’s channel marketing activities. Now, often smaller companies are not so structured that they think of their activities in terms of business fundamentals such as …
- Market Segmentation
- Channel Marketing
- Ideal Client Profiling
- Category Marketing
… so after a brief explanation I find it makes sense to put Online Channel Marketing activities into two main classifications :-
Consumption refers to the ability of the client to actually purchase and use the products or services of the company and/or to be able to order them. With some product categories e.g. digital and audio products these can be purchased and used right away, other products such as books, cosmetics, shoes and clothes may also be purchased online which may be deemed as consumption. So the purchase can always be made over the internet but the ability of the client to use the product is not always possible. This leads the provider of the product or service to get creative and to produce relevant content that will bring the end user client closer to the product. This could be in the form of …
- Educational Material
- Product Specifications
- White Papers
- Audio Podcasting
- Training Collateral.
The other aspect of using the internet for business and why topics such as Search Engine Optimization are so critical is that even if the end user client cannot physically use the product or service over the internet – the company will certainly always be able to creatively use the internet to promote that which it is selling. This promotional part of using the internet as a marketing channel is becoming more and more important and the discussion I believe must always be made as high as possible up the organizational chain. That is to say – because the implementation of the using the tools for the internet may be technical [the how] – the actual ‘why we are using social media or video marketing should be made at the strategic level.
While this does pose some challenges as it will necessitate higher level management becoming familiar with internet technology to some degree. The payback to the organization or company in terms of brand building and increased customer satisfaction will ultimately reflect back to the business in terms of revenue generation and/or stabilized market share.
Stephen C Campbell MBA, MSc