Vicki Stone

Is online marketing just a waste of time?

It’s online marketing focus week on Bdaily. Here, Vicki Stone, who runs a North East based eponymous marketing agency, discusses whether online marketing is even worthwhile.

Three important questions we ask all potential new and existing clients interested in doing their own online marketing are;

  • What do you think you could be doing more of?
  • What media are your customers and potential customers consuming?
  • Can you DIY your emarketing or would it be better to outsource?

Companies get masses of advice from their ad agency, design company, marketing consultants, customers, suppliers, associates and even the competition with helpful (and not-so-helpful) advice.

For many smaller businesses who don’t have in-house marketing teams and lack of resources they DIY their own marketing and it’s “you should be tweeting more”, “start a poll on linked in”, “blog three times a week”, “send e-newsletters”, but does your business really need to do it all?

We come from a traditional ‘old school’ full service advertising agency background, having worked for some of Birmingham’s biggest and best ad agencies, I’ve worked with huge multinational B2B and B2C brands with Multi million pound marketing budgets and also with big online brands.

With these large companies and to the businesses we work with at Vicki Stone Marketing, it all goes back to your customers, where they are and what media they consume. If you’re selling forklifts to a warehouse manager who is always on the shop floor, chances are not many of them are going to have time to engage with twitter. A combination of the sales force ‘knocking on doors’ with Direct Mail, followed by a ‘warm call’ may be the solution.

I managed a Direct Mail campaign for a forklift company which achieved a 59% response rate and over £3million of sales, so it can work if the creative is good and the whole company (including the sales force) buy into the campaign.

So before you go running off and set up your armory of social media accounts, enews software, templates and online ad campaigns I urge you to speak to your existing (and potential new) customers first. You might assume that John Smith’s business doesn’t use social media, as he’s a bit of a technophobe. He might hate doing it himself, but someone else could be running his accounts for him. Do a simple survey over the phone and/or online (or get your marketing person to).

Don’t send out an enews to a client or prospect who never checks their emails. You might be better sending them a piece of Direct Mail or something as simple as a phone call could work.

Never assume your customers know everything that you do. For those seasonal or bought once customers, they may not realise that you also do telemarketing as well as design. If you called every single customer, you’d be there until the cows came home and by the time you got round to the last customer, your news will be out of date. So a simple measured, monthly enews could work well for keeping those up to date on news and products.

We’ve been sending out a regular enews for over 3 years now and we’ve not missed a single month. The design is lovely of course, but it’s all about the content. It’s interesting to read, and it’s not all sell, sell, sell, it drives traffic to our site and we get business from it (so it works).

We’re also not shy with face-to-face networking, cold and warmer calling to generate leads, but for us it is a combination of online marketing and personal face-to-face. If I could get a pound for every time someone in business I meet says “I know you from twitter”, I’d be minted! I always reply, “You don’t know me, you know my tweets”.

Twitter can get very addictive and many of our owner-managed clients tell us it can be very time consuming. Done in the right way, it can be a great tool for raising awareness of your company and help you connect and engage with many different businesses and sectors you might not necessarily bump into.

So, for us and many of our clients emarketing isn’t a waste of time. It’s all about the creative execution and delivery of your messages and having clear objectives and goals for all your marketing activity.

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