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Promoting Your Business Online

Work Your Media
4 ways to boost an integrated online marketing strategy
March 16, 2009 | Edited by Ken Beaulieu
Permalink: http://www.fuelnet.com/?p=1673

Regardless of the size of your company, a well-executed integrated online marketing strategy can help you maximize results in a tough economy.

Rob Basso, president of Advantage Payroll Services in Hicksville, N.Y., promotes his business with an impressive integrated marketing communications strategy. He produces an online video program, coordinates client roundtables, publishes a monthly newsletter, pens a Q&A column in a local newspaper, sends out direct mail, and is an avid networker. Juggling so many tactics simultaneously is no small task. Less organized professionals might find it downright impossible. But Basso benefits from a well-defined plan that meets his audience’s information needs.

Here are four cost-effective tactics to get your media working together:

Actively promote your Web site. A Web site is vital in today’s marketplace because it gives customers and prospects access to your company at their convenience. But to generate a steady flow of traffic, a business should use every tool in its marketing arsenal, asserts Don E. Schultz, coauthor of Integrated Marketing Communications: The Next Generation. That means including the site’s URL in all advertisements, press releases, and customer communications, from off-hours voice mail messages to storefront signs, social network pages, and invoices. It’s also good practice to ask customers to register with your site so they can share information and media preferences.

Use email to provide benefits. While permission-based email marketing has become an increasingly popular online tactic, no more than half of the communications should be sales-oriented, contends RP Kumar, senior vice president of strategic planning for Irving, Texas–based Javelin Direct. “The largest portion should be communications that are perceived as being zero cost to customers — a pure benefit for being associated with your company,” he says. For example, leverage email to publicize new Web tools or direct customers to the fruits of your hard-earned publicity efforts.

Get social. Blogs and social media complement traditional marketing channels by providing customers with timely information in a more engaging and conversational manner. Bernie Robbins Fine Jewelers, a luxury retailer with 10 stores in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, uses the business directory/social networking site 7MainStreet.com to deliver product information, video clips of publicity appearances, and news about in-store events and sales to consumers. Customer surveys show the strategy is highly successful.

Seek new publicity methods. Karri Flatla, an Internet marketing consultant at Snap! Virtual Associates, in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, says companies can find PR ammunition in articles written by in-house experts or even in blog entries. “Journalists cruise blogs looking for people with a unique take on something that may be otherwise everyday stuff for most businesspeople,” she explains. Tapping your online network of business contacts can supplement PR efforts too. “If one of your colleagues is hosting an event, needs to do interviews, or even wants testimonials for their own venture, you want to be the first to respond,” Flatla explains. “Down the road you may find that the time you volunteered pays you back in publicity in spades — and in [new] customers.”

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