Let the Truth Set You Free – Marketing in the Information Age

Written by: Heidi Miller   Austin, Texas

Posted on: February 11, 2016

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Truth and marketing are uncomfortable bedfellows.

 

Not a century ago the only way for people to find out about new products was word-of-mouth and what your local grocer stocked. As television and print media became more involved with the day-to-day goings-on of the general public, marketing became a means of reaching out to people, helping them ask their grocers to stock certain products – not the other way around. Soap operas gained their name because they were widely sponsored in television’s early years by various soap companies, sure in the knowledge that the only people watching these melodramas were women staying home with her children, doing the washing.

 

With the internet, the carnival barking of yesteryear has evolved into a two-way conversation between producers and consumers. Reviews and feedback from the general public have kept checks and balances on what marketers and businesses are able to say about the benefits and features of their products and services. They’ve been forced into honesty and online product powerhouses such as Amazon.com and eBay.com have made it difficult for faulty and poor quality products to prosper. Services have gotten the same treatment from Google and their review system, as well as from websites such as Yelp.com and AngiesList.com. As generations are born and raised in a consumer society where a hard sales pitch is becoming less and less desirable, marketing has necessarily morphed into a subversive art.

 

So how does marketing work when no one wants to be marketed to?

 

You work within the parameters of the algorithms we use in our day to day life, using positive feedback to help your prospective customers find the best in the local market – You. If client satisfaction and accumulation of fantastic reviews isn’t an integral part of your business growth strategy, you’re not just behind the times.

 

You will drown.

 

I’ve had more than one client tell me that it “isn’t fair,” that they feel like they are being held hostage by Google and Yelp in that they need to court favorability online in order to see regular income. That they shouldn’t have to worry about what Google thinks to keep their business going strong.

 

I’m sure the same could’ve been said when businesses felt it unnecessary to get a telephone when they were first being installed, expecting their clientele to continue just walking in.

 

Change is extremely hard but most clients that reach out to us recognize their business can no longer thrive without a positive, professional online persona.

 

Some clients come to us with the desire to do a traditional online ad campaign. There’s really nothing wrong with this, especially the use of Google AdWords when just starting out with a comprehensive search engine optimization marketing campaign. But it is crucial that this be a part of that scheme, as those that are ad adverse won’t even look into the AdWords space on the top and right sides of Google’s homepage, going straight for maps, reviews, and highest ranking websites on organic results.

 

One of the best parts about a fully fleshed SEO campaign is the longevity of the results. No matter how amazing an ad campaign is, there’s usually a natural stopping point. Whether it’s the date a newspaper is renewed, commercials stops airing or when an AdWords campaign is turned off, all work done up until that point ceases. SEO stays. Google will cycle through dozens of algorithms over several years before most of the SEO work that’s been done becomes completely obsolete. A fully optimized business listing can last years so long as there are no office moves, drastic changes in services or products, general information changes, or rebrandings. It’s truly an investment in the long term longevity of your business.

 

Many clients who have word-of-mouth businesses don’t feel as though online optimization and marketing is necessary for them to continue – New leads find them through their stellar work. A few short lines of analytics code from Google’s analytics system installed on your website can show in a few weeks how wrong this concept is.

 

It depends on the business, but most local service-based business websites have a roughly 50% ratio of returning visitors vs. brand new visitors. These brand-new clients are often people that went directly for the website within Google search. They’re expecting to find information that confirms the raving reviews they’ve received from their friends. If the online presence is negative or lacking in professionalism, they often move on to someone nearby who has a positive online presence.

 

Actively pushing away prospective clients by ignoring online optimization is playing with fire, with your business on the line. The people who don’t know you can’t find you and the people who want to know you can’t think much of you.

 

People like to feel like they found something out on their own. Sales can no longer be the slick man at the door with the strong handshake. Businesses must be promoted by their own customers, providing a reassuring, professional and above all, confident online presence.

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