D-Tools Partner Leslie Stevens provides us with this informative article about how best to leverage online marketing to help build your integration business.
With today’s economic turmoil, it is more critical than even to focus your time and energy spreading the word about your company. With limited marketing budgets, the key is consistent promotion without throwing endless money at it. Internet marketing has become an increasingly cost-effective way to promote your business. With that said, Internet marketing is still not free and it takes time to manage properly.
You need to plan your strategy based on your limited resources. Consider these 10 Internet marketing campaigns that might fit within your parameters:
- Website – in the unlikely event you haven’t heard, professional looking websites are a must. It’s almost as if you’re not in business if you don’t have one… and a poor looking website is just as damaging. In addition, studies show that video clips on websites increase credibility. You can easily create your own message purchase short technology clips from specialty companies in the industry. Your website should project the same professionalism as the services you offer. Customers will judge your design and installation skills based on the quality of your website.
- Electronic newsletters – It’s never to soon to begin utilizing even the smallest amount of e-mail addresses you have collected. No matter if you have 50 names or 500 names, it costs you the same amount to send electronic newsletters. These are a cost-effective way to generate repeat business, referral business and new business. Electronic newsletters easily enable you to stay in front your customers and remind them of your services. You can inform them of new technology, let them know about specific events or simply remind them of your existence.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Major commercial search engines, such as Yahoo and Google, drive the majority of web traffic to particular sites. If your site cannot be found by search engines, or your content cannot be put into their databases, you’ll miss out on valuable opportunities available. Search engines are always working towards improving their technology to crawl the web more deeply and return increasingly relevant results. However, there is and will always be a limit to how much search engines can offer. SEO optimization is on on-going process. If you don’t have a webmaster on staff, your best option is to work with an outside agency who specializes in SEO.
- Electronic surveys – Just by asking your customers for their opinions, it shows that you care about them, not to mention the critical information you will gather. You can easily create customer feedback surveys online using web based programs, such as Constant Contact. Send a survey to your customers upon completion of their project, or send a potential customer lost sales analysis if you didn’t win the job. You just might find out that the deal is still a possibility.
- Provide online editorial content – Because online content needs to be refreshed on a regular basis, publication houses are always looking for new content. Try to become a feature columnist for a local magazine. Ask to write a short column on technology trends, which will then be posted on their website. Make sure your article links to your website and credits you as the expert.
- Social networks – It is important to connect with the younger generation. This is critical no matter if you’re selling gadgets in a retail environment or need to secure future sales for installed services. Social networking is becoming one of the most powerful channels for word-of-mouth. Social networking sites are no longer limited to teenage gossip. Many professional businesses are posting video clips on popular sites, such as uTube. Also, companies are starting to dedicate a person to chat online, however, they have to integrate themselves into the circle without appearing to be on the hunt for sales or self-promotion. Again, this campaign takes human resources and has to be planned out.
- Webinars – Webinars enable you to interact with customers by offering them valuable information. Conduct webinars on new technology or trends in the marketplace. An example is making your home more Green efficient through technology. Become a valuable resource for your customers by providing them interesting information and allowing them to ask questions… right from the comfort of their own home. Many online programs, such as GoToMeeting enable you to conduct webinars effectively. Participate in our webinar to see how it’s easily done
- Cross promote with other companies websites – Get your website linked with as many other companies as possible. For example, if you feature a particular brand of electronics on your website, try to get that manufacturer to list you on their dealer locator (if they have one). If you belong to an association, make sure your company is listed on their website. If you’re hosting webinars or an event in your showroom, try to get the local publications to feature your activity on their website in local events tab. Banners are also a cost-effective way to advertise.
- Podcasts – Podcasting has become a popular forum for education. These can be a simple alternative to webinars if you don’t like the typical PowerPoint format. Also, podcasts offer another option to get in front of your customer if they are not able to attend your webinars. Users can simply download the complete podcasts in advance, which gives them ability to play the podcasts offline.
- Banners – Banners are a cost-effective way to advertise your services on another companies website. Banners are simple and easy to create. They should be flashy enough to catch the visitor’s attention. Remember, “Less is more”, so keep it to a few words. Make sure your banner links to your website.
Web marketing is a cost-effective medium, however, as with any marketing campaign, you’ll have to invest time and money. And although Internet marketing is less expensive compared to alternative marketing campaigns, web marketing is dynamic, so you’ll need to re-invest on a regular basis. In summary, you’ll need to plan your strategy in advance so that you’ll know how to budget resources.
This article is provided courtesy of Leslie Stevens, President of Eclipse Marketing. Eclipse Marketing. Eclipse Marketing is a full service marketing and public relations firm servicing the residential and commercial audio/video and security industry. Eclipse Marketing provides electronic system contractors, manufactures and distributors with professionally designed and affordable marketing material. Eclipse Marketing is partners with CEDIA, InfoComm International, TechHome and PARA.
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