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HOWEVER you intend to approach the year ahead there is one thing for sure and that is that you will need to continue to drive your business forward.  

Your marketing needs to add value. It’s not about pushing your products, it’s about providing value to your customers. You can do this in many of the ways listed below but take note that in order for people to stay engaged with you or your brand, they will have to think they are getting value from what you are saying.  

As such this month I have prepared a summary of the popular marketing recommendations and predictions. It is full of familiar faces but you didn’t expect everything to change as the clock stuck 12 did you? Hopefully you get some “value” from it, feel free to call me to discuss it… or implement any of it.

1. Email marketing

Email will continue to be one of the best marketing tools for your business.  You no longer need to worry about getting blacklisted by sending too many emails from your email address as there are many online email marketing tools you can use which safeguard against this and guide you through email marketing best practices.  

Did you know that recipients of email marketing campaigns purchase 28 percent more often than those who do not, and they order 44 percent more? (Source: Small Business Yahoo) If you send relevant and valuable content to your leads/prospects/customers then you will be held in high regard. If you send crap or photos of the latest assault course your employees completed at the weekend then they will unsubscribe (simple formula).

Update your email lists. Clear out the duplicates, the bounce backs, the inactive contacts so that you can concentrate on talking to your most interested customers.  Your online email marketing tool will be able to show you all this data from previous campaigns.

Segment your email marketing list. Perhaps to leads, prospects and customers? Or new boats, used boats, service only? And then tailor your messages to each of the niche groups. The more targeted you are with your content the more responsive they will be.

2. Send a consistent message

Share the same message via your website, your blog, your Facebook account, your YouTube channel and your external advertising. When people keep seeing your message across various different media then it becomes more believable. There is nothing worse than getting an email about a new promotion or product and then not being able to find it on the company’s website or Facebook page. Some media can just
highlight a teaser message that links back to your main web page, but make it consistent.

3. Social Media

If your product is appropriate (which most are in the marine industry) engage with your fans and friends and followers on social media on a regular basis. Think of this as your work in the community, except it is an online community. The more you put in the more you get out. But of course don’t finish a status update while someone is tapping their wallet on your counter.  

Write engaging content that really connects with people, starts a conversation or debate or give useful information that people can use!  Social media is popular because people like to be part of a conversation, because they like to feel popular and because they like to be "social".  The clue is in the title.  How about creating real world events exclusively for your social media friends?
 
By all accounts “Google plus” is going to be big, resistance is futile. Google is making it so. Create a Google places page and link up all your profiles together.
It is predicted that people will make the transition from Facebook to Google+. I am sure Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t care, but you should.

If you are dealing business to business please do more with LinkedIn – You can now do Sponsored Updates which let businesses promote any post from their company page directly into a specific demographics’ news feed. This is very targeted marketing and leaves a trail for them to follow right back to you. Remember that word of mouth is one of your best marketing tools. I hear it all the time from small businesses as a reason not to do marketing. Your customers will be on social media as ambassadors and
influencers. By letting your best customers spread the word for you, you can gain trust in a new audience which will turn them into new customers.

4. SEO

Listings - Refresh your online listings on Yalwa and Hot Frog and all those other directory websites.  Many will be out of date with wrong contact details.  If you are unsure where your business is referred to online then put your web address in the Google search bar in quotation marks (like this for my company “www.fpimarketing.com.au”).  

Get your SEO right. The main thing is to create valuable content on a regular basis. This will help you rank for long-tail keyword searches. Use Google Authorship (so your thumbnail photo appears in Google) for any content you produce to help click-throughs from search engine results pages. Continue to focus on "good" link building— which means you need to get inbound links from relevant sites with a good Google page rank.

Content! - Review the content on your website and brochures – does it use the key words and phrases that your customer is looking for?  You can apply the same theory used on Google searches to writing copy for brochures and other printed material. Content is what businesses are judged on today. If you didn’t pass English at school or are just too busy then there are plenty of businesses or individuals that can write
engaging content for you.

Start a blog. Update it weekly. Who knows your products and business better than you? Your potential customer customers are searching Google for what is in your head. Build your personal brand or that of your managers. Create trust. People like to deal with people.

Take a Google Analytics course – Spending money on website design and SEO is pointless if you don’t measure what you are getting. If you don’t have Google analytics then get it put on your website. It’s FREE.

5. Go Mobile!

People are using their mobile devices to view your emails and look at your website.  If they don’t look good on their mobile then you will lose them or frustrate them.  You can’t bury your head in the sand about this one or you will lose business.  Every website needs to be optimized for mobile. Having responsive design and thinking about how people interact with your business via mobile devices should be priority in 2014. This includes Websites, Mobile Apps, SMS, and emails that are designed to be viewed on
your smart phone.

6. Encourage referrals

Yes you can encourage referrals. Just asking for them is often enough. An old school motivational speaker (Roger Dawson) once said “You can get anything you want… all you have to do is ask”.  If you ask 10 customers for a referral, three say yes and one becomes a customer then you just increased sales by 10per cent in that small targeted group.

7. Competitor analysis

Step back to get a better view of what’s happening out there from the fly bridge. Make note of threats and opportunities and work them into a viable framework to build your strategy. You wouldn’t cross a coastal bar without having
a good look first.

8. Play with video

This is the most fun you will have at work this year. You can create and edit videos your smart phone and you lucky Apple Mac people have all the software you will ever need to edit them already loaded on your computer. Get them edited by someone else if budgets allow.

Create your YouTube channel and start uploading.  Then embed them and link to them from your website and anywhere else on the internet. 90 per cent of online traffic goes to video content, and YouTube accounts for 28 percent of all Google searches millions of videos are watched online every day but only 24 per cent of major brands use online video to market to their consumers.

9. Niche websites will start to make an impact online

Due to their size and advertising revenue strategies Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus are making it harder to get found organically on their websites. If you don’t pay then you limit your chances of being found. Niche sites are only targeting people with specific interests (boating, fishing, 4x4 etc) and as such they prove to be more valuable than ever to get in front of your customers. These websites also have more affordable advertising rates (the same can be said for TV and other media).

10. Always make list of 10. People like it.

More info at www.fpimarketing.com.au or marketing@fpimarketing.com.au or 1300 374658.

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