Internet Marketing Rule #7

It’s all about Engagement.

Lots of southern Oregon businesses are trying to grow their sales through use of social media.  I mean why not?  It is FREE after all.

And there is the rub.  If social media is the silver bullet for all businesses, why is it free?  A big part of the reason that Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. are all free to you, is that they require a lot of work.  Sweat equity replaces cash for the most part in this medium.

So you need to be careful.

  • Where should you spend your time?
  • What sites should you join, and which ones should you get in deep with?
  • What are the downsides to the various social media platforms that you should wary of?
  • What are the best strategies for your business on these sites?
  • How do you best tie them to your own website?
  • What is this “engagement” thing and how do I know if I’m doing it well?
Marketing Blacksmith – the internet advertising team here at Southern Oregon Media Group – can help you with answers to all of these questions.  All of the other ones you have too.  Don’t feel like you have to invent the wheel.  Our team of experienced social media professionals – and really cool tools – can easily get your business up to speed in this lane of the information super highway.
And, as always, the advice is free.  Simply give us a call and fire away with your questions.
Greg Thompson
Digital Manager
gthompson@mailtribune.com

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Internet Marketing Rule #6

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard about Social Media. Your teenagers and 20-somethings have been using it for several years. Heck, your mother-in-law has been on Facebook for the last year. While you know all of this, what you may not realize is that your customers are too. Almost all of them.

In 2012, virtually every successful marketing campaign includes social media as a component. Not every social media campaign is created equally though. As the image to the right illustrates, your may need a different mix of:

  • Facebook – the largest number of your potential customers in most cases.
  • Twitter – the quickest way to spread the word about your business.
  • YouTube – the best way for a customer to learn about your personality and company culture.
  • LinkedIn – the best way to network for professionals.
  • Google+ – the best way to improve your business ranking on the search engines.

As you can see, Social Media can be a big, time consuming part of your marketing efforts. One of the common complaints that I hear from local business owners is that they aren’t sure where to invest their time and money when working on social media.

That’s where your representative from Southern Oregon Media Group comes in. When you think about how much the news industry has been affected by the advent of the internet age – and then the social media explosion – of course we are experts in how to utilize these new marketing tools. We are happy to help you review all of these options and point you in the best direction for your business. And as always, the consultation is free to you. Just for the asking.

Greg Thompson
Digital Manager
gthompson@mailtribune.com

 

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Internet Marketing Rule #5

Your business’ website shouldn’t just sit there. More to the point, it shouldn’t let your customer just sit there. An effective website in 2012 encourages your potential customer to act!

Long gone are the days where an “online brochure” about your company is sufficient as a website. These days, you hear marketing professionals talk about fostering “engagement” and “relationship marketing” as the Holy Grail. What those fancy words mean to you and your business, primarily, is that your customers expect your website to help them.

  1. It should answer the questions that you answer for your customers all the time.
  2. It should allow your customers to “shop in their pajamas” by listing your products or services. You earn bonus points – and extra sales too – if your products are explained in detail (and video!) so they know what they want to buy before they ever come in to see you.
  3. If what you sell doesn’t require a lot of customization, your site should allow your customers to purchase, or at least reserve the item that they would like to buy from you.
  4. If customization is required, your site can help you sell by allowing the customer to schedule a time for that consultation.
  5. If what you sell takes people a long time to choose – think new car or kitchen remodel or life insurance here – your effective website will allow customers to sign up for a newsletter or some other helpful aid. This also allows you to follow up with them as they work through their buying process.

Your website should also help potential customers with several other things specific to your particular business. That’s where our internet design team – Marketing Blacksmith – comes in. Smart businesses are leveraging this remarkable team in both little and big ways to turn their websites from “pretty” to “pretty darn effective.” If you’d like to schedule a free consultation to learn how your website could be helping your business better in these trying times, we’re always here to help.

Karri Sundberg
Team Leader
ksundberg@mailtribune.com

 

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Internet Marketing Rule #4

You’ve worked so hard to get potential customers to your site. Of all the websites in the entire world, they found yours! Now you have to make sure that they realize just how lucky they are. This is where art blends with science. Your web page needs to reassure them that they are about to find EXACTLY what they are looking for!

This means that you need to put on your customer hat for a minute. Why DO people come to your website? And does your site help them with the answer to that question? Here are some common questions that may be from your customers…

  • What is your phone number?
  • Are you nearby?
  • Are you open?
  • Restaurant – Can I see your menu? What are today’s specials?
  • B&B – Do you have any rooms? What’s for breakfast?
  • Retail Store – What are your newest arrivals?

As you can see, these questions are pretty basic. Many, many websites in southern Oregon fail to answer them quickly though. And if this is true for your site, your customers will bounce back to Google and look for a site that does help them out.

This is where our Marketing Blacksmith group can be a huge help to you and your business. The design team can help you be the website where these frustrated customers end up! Be the business that answers the questions your customers have – plus the customers that tried to buy from your competition and couldn’t get the help they were looking for.

So your homework assignment today is to look at your website like a customer. Does it help them as well as your best employee does? If not, let’s talk about how it can be better. As always, our consultation time is free of charge.

Greg Thompson
Digital Manager
gthompson@mailtribune.com

 

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Internet Marketing Rule #3

Your business needs to Be Found.  Pew Research found in 2010 that over 6 in 10 adults in the US research products online before they buy.  Yes, that number includes people right here in southern Oregon.  No, that number hasn’t gotten any smaller in the months since.  With the explosive growth of new mobile devices such as smart phones, iPads, and tablets the number has most assuredly increased.

What does this mean to your business?

  1. Your customers need to find you – and find you easily.  When they are looking for you online.
  2. You have more competitors than just the ones that are down the street.  You are now often competing with businesses across the country or even around the world.
  3. Your customers may be connecting with your competition while they are in your store.
  4. It can also mean that your web presence helps extend your reach.  Customers can learn about your business while you are closed or even if they don’t live close by.

See?  It’s not all bad.  Not if you embrace the change that is taking place around us.

Where Do You Start?

There are two options, really.  The first is to choose to become an expert in internet marketing.  You only have to master (1) Search Engine Optimization, (2) Graphic Design, (3) Animation, (4) Ecommerce Security, (5) Social Media Marketing, (6) Email Marketing, and (7) Banner Ad Marketing.  Well, there’s more than that any more, but those are the basics.

The second option is to meet with one of the highly trained consultants at Southern Oregon Media Group.  Each is trained in all of the areas above and empowered to share that knowledge with you.  The advice is always free of charge too.  You may choose to then leverage the power of the Marketing Blacksmith team of specialists for at least part of your marketing plan, but the choice is always yours.

Your customers are looking for you online.  Your job is to help them by making it easy for them to find you.  SOMG’s job is helping you to do just that.

Greg Thompson
Digital Manager
gthompson@mailtribune.com

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Internet Marketing Rule #2

Even here in the Rogue Valley, how business is being conducted has been steadily evolving.  While a solid relationship with your customers – good customer service on a great product at a fair price – will never go out of style, how you get introduced to new potential customers is changing at an incredible pace.

Even if you don’t sell your products online, you need a powerful website to compete in business today.  

While it seems like there are an unlimited number of ways that you can develop an online presence these days – Facebook account, Twitter profile, etsy or EBay store, etc. – none of them are as effective without your website as the foundation.  While there are businesses out there that still get by without a website or perhaps just a Facebook page, every business that is thriving in this recession (can we even still call it that?) has at least a basic website.  I think I do mean every business when I say this, although feel free to point out the exceptions that prove my rule in the comment section below.

What are Successful Companies Doing?

Could you imagine Starbucks deciding, “This website of ours is a lot of work.  It costs us money too.  Let’s shut it down and just run everything through our Facebook page.”  How about Nike, Les Schwab Tires, Harry & David, or the Mail Tribune?  Sounds a little silly to say things like this out loud doesn’t it?  Of course these successful companies are going to continue to invest in their own websites.  That’s where their customers expect to find information about their products.

Yet, plenty of local businesses make the decision to do just this, or forgo a proactive web presence all together.  There are plenty of reasons and all of them sound good at face value.

These are all valid concerns.  The internet CAN be a huge investment in time and money – and there are potential blind alley’s all over.  That’s where our Marketing Blacksmith team comes in.  You can leverage the same people that work on the largest local websites and utilize their expertise for your business as well.
The best part of all is that this help is completely scalable.  SOMG offers solutions for as little as $5 per day that can provide quick, noticeable results for every business in town.  Whether you need just a little boost, some brief sprucing up of your website, or a full-service hands on partner, you can find exactly that.
AND…. the answers to your questions are completely free.  Seriously.  We look forward to hearing about you and your business, and working through what your business has to gain from a better website.
Greg Thompson
Digital Manager
gthompson@mailtribune.com

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Internet Marketing Rule #1

Your success starts with finding the right partners.  The internet has become so complex and is moving so fast, you need to KNOW where to invest your time and money.  Don’t get stuck following a hot trend that will only become a passing fad.

A History of Advertising Success - applied to new digital marketing opportunities. SOMG has been working with local businesses like yours to help grow their bottom line for decades, and now we help our business community take the next step towards future success with digital marketing opportunities in addition to our award winning newspaper and magazine editions.

Digital Marketing: So Much to Learn, So Fast

We know that businesses like yours are inundated with information and pressure to create websites, advertise on Google and Facebook, and social media on a daily basis. We also understand that these marketing vehicles could be unfamiliar territory for you from traditional advertising (print, broadcast, etc) and there seems to be something new all the time. Just when you get a handle on something, it’s changed, more complex, more time-consuming and you’re ready to throw in the towel!

We’re Here to Help!

Whether you have a question like, “What’s a Google Place page?” or “How can I use social media to build customer retention and loyalty?”—we have answers. Our consultative services require no obligation or commitment. A digital specialist will assess your needs and work with you and our team of experts to create a digital strategy that is easy to manage and will deliver results.

Set Up Your FREE Assessment Today

The internet isn’t going away.  In fact, your customers are becoming ever more reliant on it all the time to help them decide where to spend their hard earned money.  The sooner you put your business on the right path, the better.  Did we mention that the answers to your question and the insights into the best practices you should implement are all free?  It’s true.

Greg Thompson
Digital Manager
gthompson@mailtribune.com

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How Valuable is Social Media in Medford?

I get this very question from local business owners on a regular basis.  They aren’t convinced that “their” customers use social media for much of anything.  They certainly aren’t swayed by what they see on sites like Facebook, Twitter, eSouthernOregon.com, YouTube, and…  There sure are a lot of these sites aren’t there?  Where do we begin to make sense of them all?

Here’s the thing.  Social Media is being used by almost all of us now and on a very regular basis.  A 2012 study by Clark, Martire, and Bartolomeo shows that almost 85% of the adults in Jackson County are connected to the internet.  That number climbs above 95% for those people earning over $75,000 per year.  Your customers – and those people who you should want to be your customers – are on the internet on a regular basis.  And in 2012, for most of us, that means that at least part of that time is spent on a social media site or more probably several of them.

This is great news for those businesses that have always valued their word-of-mouth marketing.  The axiom of doing a good job for your customers meaning that they’ll send their friends your way still holds true.  What has changed though is the scale at which this can and does happen.  Instead of your best customer telling her 6 best friends what a great deal you gave her last week, she can now sing your praises to her 437 Facebook friends, 138 Twitter followers, and post a review on eSouthernOregon.com that has the potential to be seen by 1,000s more people.  A business who does well by their customers can count on the word getting around now and many, many more people walking in their doors with money in hand.

The same power is available, however, when the service is maybe not all that it could have been.  Hell hath no fury like a customer with a Facebook account scorned.  I know that’s not the way that saying goes exactly, but it doesn’t make it any less true.  And it’s not just Facebook.  In fact, the sites mentioned here so far only just scratch the surface of this new “social economy.”  Do you know what is being said about your business online?  Do you know that Googling your business only pulls in a mere fraction of all that could be being said about your business?  Your SOMG consultant can show you several options on how to monitor – and proactively and positively increase – the chatter about your business on the internet.

The video included above explains more of what is coming by highlighting what already is.  Please take the two minutes to see better the changes that are happening with your customers’ behavior and then give us a call to set an appointment to talk through how this affects your specific business.  As always, the information and advice are free for the asking.

Greg Thompson
Digital Manager
gthompson@mailtribune.com

 

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The Internet Changed Our Business. Yours is Next.

Take a look at the following video developed by the Newspaper Association of America.  It shows just how far the typical “newspaper” reader has come in the last 15 years.  News was clearly one of the first industries to be altered by the internet  and it is amazing how far we’ve come in response to these changing behaviors.  We have 1,000s of readers every day who choose to access their Medford news via each of these methods

  • Printed Newspaper
  • Computer or laptop
  • Smart phones
  • Tablet devices such as an iPad
Imagine what would happen to our readership if we said, “You must read the news the way we want to present it to you.”  Because our industry is so completely integrated into the internet, everyone can easily see the folly of that strategy as a business model.  Any readers who couldn’t access the news in the way that they wanted would immediately go find another news source – and take their spending money with them.  However, since we have responded to these demands from our customers, we continue to be far and away the most popular local news source.
But think about the companies that you interact with on a regular basis.  How have they done at keeping up with your needs?  I’m still amazed to see that there are more restaurant menus in the yellow pages than there are on the internet.  While some restaurants are getting it right, the vast majority are way behind their customers in embracing the internet and all it can do for a business relationship.
Now, before we pile onto the local restaurants too much (one look at my waistline will tell you how much I enjoy our dining scene) I’d recommend that you go back and watch the video one more time.  This time, listen for the comments that your customers have made to you and your staff.  Just like ours, your customers probably…
  • Want easy driving directions (and business hours) on a page that shows nicely on their smart phone.
  • Can browse your main products during the evening hours – when they have time to shop but you may be closed.
  • Can find answers to “those” questions that your customers ask all the time that can help them start their research without troubling you.
  • Have an easy way to ask questions and receive answers.
In short, are you helping them in the ways that they hope to be helped, or is your business still doing things “they way they’ve always been done”?  While your industry probably hasn’t had to deal with all the changes that we’ve seen in newspapers, the changes are starting to be felt across our economy.  Yes, even here in sleepy southern Oregon.
The businesses that understand that there is a new way of doing things and embraces this new paradigm before their competitors will have a clear leg up as we move forward.  While that thought may be daunting to even the largest of businesses, you have a easier path through than we did.  Your SOMG representative can help explain the changing landscape to you – free of charge.  And where your staff may not have the expertise to launch your new-and-improved internet presence, have no fear.  We’ve put our incredible team of specialists under a new umbrella – Marketing Blacksmith.  These same experts that have helped to maintain our course are now available to you and your business as well.
Greg Thompson
Digital Manager

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Your Customers LOVE Their Smartphones

You see them in the hands of so many of your customers.  You probably have one yourself.  You use it all the time – and probably not just to play Doodle Jump.  If you own a business in Jackson County, you probably DON’T yet reach out to your customers via these incredible devices – even though your customers are using them to make all kinds of purchasing decisions.  I know you are busy with the day to day of your business, but here are some new figures from Strategy Analytics that should help you focus on how your customers smartphone can help you work even smarter.

It should be no surprise to you that smart phones are becoming more and more popular in the US in general, and within your customer base here in southern Oregon as well.  What may be news to you though is how much money is projected to be spent on these devices in the upcoming year.  According to the research, consumers are projected to increase the amount we spend on our data plans and app purchases this year by another 22%!

There aren’t a lot of sectors of the economy growing that fast.  The reason behind the growth is because your customers are fast realizing the potential of these devices to help them with many aspects of their lives.  Not least among them is the ability to simplify purchasing research on the fly.  Is the item that Sally Customer is searching for available anywhere else in town?  Is it in stock?  Is it less expensive?  If YOU sell that must have thing she is looking for, can she find you on her phone?  You should hope so as this process is taking place thousands of times per day all across our little valley.

Your Competition May Be Getting Ahead of You

While this trend may be daunting to consider, the other part of the study is even more so.  While the consumer side of the equation is growing at a brisk clip, the business side is growing even faster.  Businesses in the US are increasing their spending on mobile type advertising by over 120% this year – 5 times as fast!

There are two primary reasons for this difference.  The first is that our customers got a head start on us.  Mobile usage by customers greatly outpaces businesses efforts, to date, to meet these needs.  This is especially true here in the Rogue Valley where only a small percentage of businesses offer mobile friendly data on their websites.  The second is that more and more businesses have started to realize the vast opportunity available to them in the ability to reach their customers via a device that they have on their person most hours of the day.  Smart phones are fast becoming our own miniature personal assistants, recommending where to go, what to eat, how to buy.  Smart businesses realize that being a part of these considerations is fast becoming a critical component to their success.

We see just that here at Southern Oregon Media Group.  The mobile versions of our two news sites – MailTribune.com and DailyTidings.com – are visited by thousands of readers every day and continue to be the fastest growing part of our online footprint.  You can leverage our expertise in this arena in two different ways.  First, let our experts help you morph your marketing message into a mobile friendly format.  No need to learn through trial and error when we’ve been working in this space for years.  Second, let our large mobile audience know that your business is ready to meet them on their phones by advertising your mobile content on our sites.

You’ll be surprised by how simple and cost-effective we can make this for you.  Your customers are mobile and your competition is fast becoming so.  Now is the best time for you to get involved too.

Contact your SOMG representative to learn more about the next steps your business should take.  The analysis and advice are always free.

Greg Thompson
Digital Manager
gthompson@mailtribune.com 

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