Marketing and Marketing Communications Challenges For the Midsized Retailer

The consumer started to spend a little more in the first quarter of 2010 and, according to Bloomberg data, Wall Street analysts have upped their earnings estimates for more than 100 U.S. retail stocks. Good news, especially coming from Wall Street.

But, what if you’re not a Big Box store or boutique retailer? Let’s say you have about twenty doors and, while your on-line sales may be increasing, as a midsized retailer the “bricks and mortar” versus “e-commerce” investment strategy still presents a challenge to you.

Consider also the 27 percent increase in coupon redemption, according to Nielsen the first time in 17 years that consumers used more coupons than in the year before. You know you can’t continue to discount yourself into sustainable profitability, so to drive profitable revenue in the short and long term – isn’t it time to re-evaluate how you market yourself and what marketing communications tactics to employ?

Learn The New Marketing Environment
Before you start making any changes, step back and determine what your customers and employees think about your product and service offerings. You probably think you know everything about your existing and potential customers, but other than price, are you really sure you know what’s important to them?

And what about your employees? Fortune magazine’s “Most Admired Companies” issue points out, based on research done by the Hay Group, that these companies actually believe that employees are their most valued asset. They are your true brand advocates and probably know a lot about what may be holding you back from further growth.

For instance, in your retail environment, have you trained your staff effectively to deliver value to your customers? Have you provided them with the tools to create an engaging one-on-one experience? Consider leveraging your staff or bringing in a “local expert” for an evening event and creating co-promotion with a brand that can bring you both new customers.

And a similar evaluation needs to be done for your e-commerce business. What does your website say about you? What do you know about these customers and their needs and interest? How are they different from your in-store purchasers? Are your emails or social media tactics inspiring them to purchase?

Forrester, the tech research firm, believes we are now living in the era of “Splinternet” and must move with caution through the new world of consumer data mining, applications and internet standards. Mobile advertising and Facebook professionals moving to LinkedIn, for example, are just some of the most recent media selection challenges.

Find marketing consultants who can help you answer these questions with clarity, and then help you communicate with your constituents. Look before you leap.

Be Media Neutral
Assuming you have enough employee advocates on the floor and your retail environment is inviting and tells your story and your website is “smokin”, how do you determine the best mix between new and traditional media? Don’t be seduced by media efficiency. Media efficiency must be coupled with media effectiveness.

All of this starts, again, with knowing your customer. For instance, age is one key factor. According to a January, 2010 study by SSRS:

  • Only 20 percent of adults aged 18 – 49 read a print version of a newspaper every day, while 42 percent of adults aged 50+ do;
  • Further, while 34 percents of adults 18 – 49 prefer to get their news online, less than half of that number aged 50+ want online news.

And there’s the medium itself to consider. While total spending for U.S. advertising declined last year by 9 percent to $117 billion, Spanish language television increased by 32 percent, and cable television increased by 15 percent. Perhaps these marketers know a lot about their customers and how to reach them.

Also consider direct to customer events. Webinars are extremely useful and efficient (and soon you’ll start hearing a lot of great stuff about this summer’s launch of the Home Dec Show, a turnkey 24/7 virtual marketplace). But be sure to think outside the box for alternative ways of face to face selling, such as pop up stores or tying in with events, where a customer can see and touch the product (and gauge the sincerity of the person selling it).

With so much competition and convenience just a click away, retailers must deliver experience-based and interactive retailing to differentiate themselves. Depending on the customer segment, know what type of information they want and how they want it delivered. And make sure it connects to your web-based communication and sales efforts. Don’t underestimate the power of customer interaction to deliver profit to your bottom line. Seize the opportunity to create a continuum, not an “either or” scenario.

Find Established Marketing Communications Consultants
As it stands now, the marketing and marketing communications environment is complex. Most assuredly, media fragmentation will continue and exacerbate the decision making process even more. There is much to determine and evaluate, especially for a midsized retailer. Finding the right people whom you can trust to understand this environment and how to invest in it may be the hardest part.

Look for strategic and creative partners with demonstrated ability across retail businesses who aren’t “selling” a one size fits all solution or marketing approach. New and traditional media can work well together but you must find media neutral consultants who can master the challenges of efficiency and effectiveness.

And, fresh eyes may help you see more clearly.

What Should Internet Marketing Services Include?

Along with your decision to put up a business, you must have thought of what marketing strategy you are going to use in order to make it sell and grow over time. Although the traditional way of marketing a business has been proven to be very effective in the recent years, businessmen these days have decided to move on to a more innovative way of marketing their business which is through the use of the internet. They believe that this newer business marketing strategy is able to give them a lot better results than the traditional ones which make use of the television, radio and newspapers. Most businessmen create their own website to effectively market their business over the internet. However, internet marketing is not solely about having a website. There are a lot of things that effective internet marketing services should include.

Creating a website is just the first and most basic things that internet marketing services should have. Next to that is their SEO strategy or what is known as the search engine optimization strategy. With this strategy, reliable internet marketing services include your business website on the search engine results in order for it to get found by your potential customers who research about your products and services using the large search engine sites that the internet have today like Yahoo, Bing and Google.

Internet marketing services should also include Social Media Marketing. This marketing strategy takes advantage of the free social media networking sites which are being used by a lot of people these days to communicate with their friends from all over the world. By using this as a marketing strategy you allow your business to be noticed by millions of people from all over the world in just a few click or a few seconds.

Another very effective marketing strategy that internet marketing services should include is email marketing which make use of your potential customers’ email to directly get in touch with them. This is done by sending them informative educational and convincing reading materials usually when they subscribe to your website. Our potential customers inevitably have quite a lot of questions about our products and services before they do business with us. They feel important when they see that we address every important question they have. Email marketing would allow us to address their questions and eventually move them into doing business with us.

Online video content marketing is also a very important marketing strategy that internet marketing services should include. Perhaps you have already heard and seen YouTube and how often it gets visited by a lot of online users. This is because whether we admit it or not, there are still a lot of people who are never satisfied with just written contents. They would like to see things before they decide to purchase. It would definitely be a good idea to show your potential customers your products and services through videos from free online video streaming sites to effectively market them.

Internet Marketing – Communication With Your Target Audience Is Key – 5 Tips

Why does success in the world of Internet marketing seem to come so easily to a few, while the rest seem to struggle with it at every turn? There are a few reasons for this common perception:

a. in reality, most Internet marketing “overnight success stories” are actually 5 or more years in the making; of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t start making money online right away – but to break 6 and eventually 7 figures online, you need to put in some serious sweat equity and have a steep learning curve

b. the most successful online marketers go to the trouble and expense of investigating and then harnessing tools that can magnify their own efforts by 10-100 times

c. successful Internet marketers know how to strategically align their online efforts with the needs of a hungry audience just looking for the content they are delivering

In particular, to be successful in Internet marketing, communication with your target site visitors is key. Here are 5 tips to attract and communicate with your target visitors:

1. Align your content with keywords that your target audience is looking for:

Think of the online marketing process as a tunnel (similar to the concept of a sales funnel). The would-be buyer needs to get into the tunnel, go past all of the other content out there, and arrive at your site’s landing page. Then, they need to go from that landing page to your online store page, affiliate links or content with AdSense ads. The easier they can make their way through that tunnel, the faster they will arrive at your door with cash in hand.

The more you can align the messaging and keywords in the content you create (both on-site and off-site) properly with the needs of your target group, the shorter and straighter that tunnel will be. Short, straight sales tunnel —-> more sales —-> happier Internet marketer.

2. Create content using media they relate to:

The name of the game is creating good off-site content that will get people to your site. Be sure to create content in multiple formats or modalities, including text (articles, blogs, lenses, hubs, microsites, etc.), video, audio, and Flash.

3. Build Web pages optimized for specific long-tail keywords:

All of this good off-site should be linking back to your primary website – this is where your money is made. This site needs to be comprised of multiple pages – at least 20 or more, if possible (don’t worry – you can add more over time if you don’t have that many now). Important: be sure that each page is optimized for a different unique long-tail keyword.

For example, if your site sells tankless water heaters, you may want to have various pages optimized for highly-searched long-tail keywords like “cheap tankless water heaters,” “wall-mounted tankless water heaters,” etc. Use a good keyword research tool to help you find a list of good keywords.

4. Create valuable content:

Of course, optimizing your site is a must, but make sure you are not just creating content for search engines. Rather, you need to be making excellent and valuable content for your target audience. Otherwise, once you get them to your site, they will go away as quickly as they arrived. Give them a reason to stay and buy from you.

5. Keep your visitors’ “buy buttons” in mind:

Focus intently upon just what it is that motivates your customers to buy from you. Remember, it is the value that they perceive – not the desire to give you money – that makes them buy. Spend some time thinking about their “buy buttons” and then optimize your site for those. A good guide is the techniques found in neuro-marketing and related fields.

Follow these 5 tips for success in Internet marketing through better communication with your target visitors.

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