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The New Marketing & Community Organizations

May 1, 2011 - Ernest Hohmeyer
Information Overload Recently in my travels, I found myself checking out one of those major chain bookstores. For fun, I scanned the business section and in particular the latest books on marketing. Even though I am a trained community and business development specialist I was overwhelmed. I am a small business person too and as I scanned the new business and marketing gospels, my first thought was “how do I do all of this?” Check out the some of the books that lined the shelves: “Twitter Power 2.0: How to Dominate Your Market One Tweet at a Time;” “Networking is a Contact Sport:” “You Tube & Video Marketing: An Hour a Day;” “Social Media Marketing: The Next Generation of Business Engagement” and “Everything I Learned About Marketing, I Learned From Google.”

I stood back for a moment trying to make sense of all of this – lost for a moment in the sea of endless information and limitless communication.

Why Are We Doing This Anyway?

I had to start over and think about why are we doing all of this?

Each of us whether we run a business, a non-profit or a community based organization including government has a set of “customers.” Sometimes they are visitors, members or taxpayers. If we are sincere in what we are doing we may be trying to do at least two things: fulfill the needs of existing customers and try to capture new ones. Depending on who you represent this could be attracting people to a play, adding new members or trying to expand the tax base.

Because everyone is receiving so much information, they are quickly discarding most of it.

You now need to consider what David C. Edelman in an article “Branding in the Digital Age: You’re Spending Your Money in All the Wrong Places” calls the “consumer decision journey (CDI) or the process by which a potential customer or visitor makes their decision to come to your business and just as importantly - the time after they have used your product or service.

In order to get that information across, it is being suggested that the new toolbox is not simply a description of your products or services but telling a good story and thinking like a journalist. David Meerman Scott in his book “The New Rules of Marketing & PR” suggests to “start with a content strategy and then focus on the mechanics and design of delivering that content.”

Scott talks about thinking like a publisher who “carefully identify and define target audiences and consider what content is required in order to meet their needs.” “Information-packed posts” Scott argues, are “ranked highly by search engines such as Google.” The new challenge is not only to get hits on your web site but to decrease what Scott refers to as the “bounce rate” or “frequency of one page reviews.”

In other words they see but take no action.

Even Scott talks about the need to understand what your marketing program is all about and asking the question “What’s the goal?” and “What problem do you solve for your buyers?” How you do that has changed to what he believes effective marketing “delivers compelling content to buyers [to get] them to take action.” “At successful organizations” he continues, “news releases, blogs, web sites, video, and other content draw visitors in the ‘sales consideration cycle,’ then funnel them toward the place where action occurs.” This content becomes the platform of the “next step” of the “sales process” which is your product or services. “Content turns browsers into buyers” and “Web content sells any products or service and advocated any philosophy or image” he concludes.

We are All Together

It may be important to consider your customer as not you versus them but as an interactive piece of your business or organizational community. Many want to share and be involved before and after they interact with you. Scott has an interesting analogy of the “Web as a city” and the “ways that people interact on blogs, forums and social networking sites as the bars, private clubs and cocktail parties of the city.”

A new tool to monitor you business or organizations and to understand some of the trends is the use of blogs. In his “Web is a city” metaphor Scott defines the “Web as a huge city teeming with individuals, and blogs as the sounds of independent voices.” Besides considering your own blog it is a great way to understand what others are saying about your company. By visiting blogs of your key customers you can get a picture of what they may be thinking. It’s also a great way to look for key words or phrases that you can use. Blogs are the new instrument that big companies are using to cull information. Technorati and Google Blog Search are blog search engines that Scott cites as a source and “blogosphere as a source of market intelligence.”

How do we keep up with driving all of this content? In an article “Social Media Super-Glue: Adhering to New Marketing Strategies author Sharon Rowe points out that search engines “especially Google, crawl the home page of your website every 7-10 days, rewarding sites with refreshed content detected on each new crawl by maintaining or improving their placement.” There are services such as “Nutshell Mail” that she refers to as a “free social media tracker tool…to update Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Foursquare, LinkedIn, You Tube” and others from “one email digest delivered everyday to your email in box.”

Does Tradition Sometimes Constrain?

I have heard the comment that local chambers of commerce are no longer the center of a community’s business heartbeat. But let’s look at that for a moment in the context of the new world of marketing. It was not that long ago that the chambers were considered one of the few key marketing venues. Visitors would contact the chambers directly, ask for info and request brochures. Businesses seeking to locate in a community also often looked to the chambers as a key resource. It was a slower world governed by phone calls and snail mail. While this is still an important function, there are many more options out there in today’s information highway that may affect this role.

One search on the internet can cover it all. Moreover, the new marketing talks about the fact that descriptions of products and services may not be as important as providing a story or providing good content. This content needs constant updating in order for it to remain on top of the search engines. So what does this mean if anything to current marketing efforts such as printed materials, visitor’s guides and other traditional efforts? How do you reconcile the need for traditional media and the new marketing with decreasing resources? How do you change the opinion that once an icon of local business development and marketing, it’s not that chambers have become off center, it may be more due to that there are more players in the room impacting their message?

In light of the new marketing mix of traditional media and an ever expanding web based effort of blogs and networking with “plugged-in bloggers,” online news sources, targeted publications, e-books, on-line video and others that reach the targeted audiences that are looking for what we have to offer - should we re-consider how to focus our local marketing efforts? Should we focus on our expertise and/or tell a story with key words that our customers may use? Is it time to rethink who our partners really are and should we be only working in the confines of traditional definitions of “chambers of commerce,” municipal lines of towns and counties? Is it appropriate for Saranac Lake to work with Malone? Should the bed tax be used as a marketing instrument to “promote events?”

We look at this next.


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