We’re also doing a lot of planning. We’ve broken out our Magic 8-Ball and we’re gazing into the future. Here are a few things we’re seeing–things we believe marketers ought to think about now, before 2010 is history:
1. Facebook is the 800-pound gorilla. Much as you want to resist, much as you want to opt out, much as you want to deny it, Facebook is huge and pervasive. So far, commercial interests have not ruined Facebook for people who use it to hang out with friends across the street and around the world. It’s a huge repository of personal advice, experience, and recommendations. The question is not whether you need to factor it into your plans. The question is, how?
2. The web is not good for everything. Online retailing continues to grow–but it’s still only seven percent of all retail sales in America, meaning that 93 percent of retail sales are made in good old brick-and-mortar establishments. Even most purchases that are researched online actually occur face to face. Which leads to the question: whether you’re selling goods or services, where does the web fit into your marketing and sales cycles? Where does it not fit?
3. The web is good for lot of things. Now would be a great time to figure out ways to engage customers on the web, get them coming to your site, signing up, opting in, allowing you to be of service to them. How will you do it? Remember: the only difference between your website and NBC.com is that there’s lots of content people want to see at NBC.com. What do you have that people want to see (or hear or experience)?
4. The economy is probably going to be sluggish, at best. So say most economic forecasters. It might be a good time to think about market share. If fewer people are buying, it makes sense to lower your sales projections but work to increase the percentage of buyers who buy from you–then work to maintain that market share when pocketbooks loosen again.
5. Your awareness models may be out of date. This year for Tonic Ball and Tonic Gallery, we did precious little paid advertising–no television advertising whatsoever. We staged interesting events, did grassroots marketing, worked public relations, and leaned on social media. Our results were off-the-charts successful: a sold-out show, tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of media exposure, and more than $40,000 net raised for Second Helpings. Granted: Tonic is an established event with a good fan base, but that’s just good business. The fact is, our awareness soared and our event set records–in a lousy economy, without paid media. Maybe you should be thinking about how you’re spending your money to generate awareness.
6. Social Media ain’t free. This is one of the biggest hurdles for marketers to get over. We keep hearing about how social media are allowing marketers to take their messages directly to the people–“and, best of all, it’s all free.” That’s a dangerous misconception. You may not have to invest millions in television time and expensive production–but you do have to invest in a good plan, content development, and ongoing, active monitoring and updating. (And, frankly, maybe you should buy some television. It’s still the best way to reach lots of people with a big, emotional message.) Marketing on the social web will cost you something. It good news is, it should cost you less. But you shouldn’t try to get off cheap…
7. …because bad content reflects poorly on you. Don’t let an intern tweet for you. Don’t let an SEO company seed your blog posts with keywords that make you seem like a shill. Don’t think anyone’s going to want to watch your plant tour video just because you’ve chopped it into two-minute segments and posted it on YouTube. The web is interactive. Your customers can click off of anything they want, any second they want to. You need to invest in content that’s lively and interesting and authentic–and that’s not usually a job for amateurs.
8. Ask for the order. You know how obnoxious it is to have a friend who’s always pitching you something on Facebook or LinkedIn? Always asking you to “Like” his or her business? The flip side is that, in this day and age of 24/7 socializing, it’s easy to be too subtle. To always be trying to gain influence and never be closing a sale. Now’s the time to remember that if you really want business, you have to ask.
And with that: we’re asking. We’re fine and thoughtful strategists. We’re hard workers. We have great people. We’re good at what we do. We’re committed to making our business grow. We’re energized by new challenges in ways that help us get even better–which is good news for the clients we have right now. If you’re intrigued by what we’re saying, we should talk.