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– Eric Hardenbrook

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The Internet; Commerce and Marketing

Graphic of the birth of the InternetFrom the advent of Ecommerce in 1991 to the removal of restrictions on it’s commercial use in 1995, competition for Internet advertising traffic was not a problem for companies. Simply having a web site was a novelty and traffic was generated out of curiosity. In the 17 years the internet has been open for commercial use, the obvious nature of the opportunities have nurtured fantastic growth as companies eager to reap the benefits of a larger customer base have explored and helped developed the internet into the tool it is today, a driver of global sales. A vast and growing library of information available to the public and a marketing tool of incredible power. A marketing tool that can level the playing field between huge corporations and startups to an extent unimagined just 20 years before.

Today, Internet marketing and search engine placement has moved from the realm of the amateur to an ethereal art practiced by professionals with years of specialized experience. For many companies, the Internet has become their primary sales medium and the competition for qualified traffic is fierce. Internet marketing has grown so sophisticated and specialized, it’s virtually impossible for most small to medium size businesses to keep up. The bigger problem today’s businesses face, often without recognizing, is that this amazing tool just reaching adolescence and is still rapidly growing and evolving!

Adjusting your marketing plan to accommodate “best practices” in this changing environment is like shooting at a rapidly moving target. That target however, cannot be ignored and to hit it, the shot must be taken. This is the immediate future of effective marketing and it is changing before your eyes at blindingly high speed.

Why Companies Fail At Internet Marketing

It’s a fact; the average consumer today knows more about your company and the product or service that they’re looking to purchase before they walk through your doors than ever before in the entire history of commerce. A failure to recognize the magnitude of the change brought about by today’s consumers ready access to information is the core reason for many companies failure in the Internet Marketing arena.

Because the implications for their business are not recognized, these changes are often neither recognized or taken seriously and as a result, companies fail to put the same amount of planning and research into their plans for Internet marketing as they do into the more traditional forms of marketing that they have experience in. Very few companies, for example, would presume to arrange all the details and ad buys for their own television commercials. They recognize the repercussions of doing an amateur job on a national TV campaign. Therefore, they’re willing to hire an experienced agency to develop and implement the entire campaign. The interesting thing is, I’ve seen that same company assign the task of “Internet Marketing” to an existing employee with other responsibilities already on their plate. They don’t grasp the ramifications of the profound change taking place, even though they are participants in that change in their role as consumers!

Piecemeal Marketing Solutions No Longer Work!

Most companies have tried an a-la-carte approach to Internet marketing, occasionally sending emails to their customer mailing list, or making the occasional ad word purchase in an attempt to drive traffic to their site. Perhaps they’ve even hired a company that provided piecemeal solutions but didn’t stick it out as they saw little new business or lasting value from the effort. What most businesses have not done is adjust their marketing plan to adapt to the changing habits of their buyers and the increased information that buyer has about their business.

Change equals opportunity in the business world and making informed decisions to navigate through changing times is always a challenge for a business that’s engrossed in managing its daily operations. Like any new wave in the way we do business, there are those who exploit the weaknesses of others, either intentionally or through naivete. “Bob at WYZ Corp said that they hired someone to do SEO and promote their Facebook page. They’re getting results so we should do the same thing,” is NOT a good plan.

Who are your customers and what’s best for your company? What is the “big picture” plan for your growth, where are you heading, which of the many tools available are needed to implement that plan and which of them will be the most cost effective to implement? It’s become impossible to run your business and know the answers to these questions without the help of a Internet Marketing Professional…….

Here are some seed thoughts for you to consider, develop and elaborate on…..

  • Examples of social media being used effectively to market a business or product have similarities. The first thing you’ll notice is that the company must be involved in two way conversation with the other participants. There is a level of transparency and sincerity in the exchange that rises above ulterior motives like selling.
  • The environment of a successful social media campaign involves honest exchange. Like all successful relationships this requires a greater degree of transparency and involvement which, in turn, encourages a greater level of trust.
  • The greater level of trust encourages people to seek referrals and advice, consider the companies opinion, develop a favorable opinion of the company and its offerings, all of which leads to increased sales.
  • Because of several factors, the above mentioned being one, the days of running your company in a sloppy or self centered manner and being able to compensate by hiring a good marketing company to paint you in a pleasant light are dying quickly.
  • Now more than ever, the path to business success is in improving the business, its offerings and the people involved in it to bring more value to your customer. This includes nurturing a company culture that includes a genuine care for the well-being of the client/customer, employees and the world around you.
  • Most businesses recognize the value of these principles, may have started with goals involving some of these thoughts but sacrificed bits of them along the way, losing sight of their value.
  • Many companies don’t recognize the significance that current shifts in consumer habits have for their business. Increasingly, buyers investigate companies and products on line prior to making a purchase, looking for trust, ethical practices, community involvement and testimonials for services rendered.
  • “Just build me a Facebook Page and get me some ‘Likes”” or “I just need to get to the first page of Google”. Grrrr. You’re missing the point. Social media, for example, works because it allows people a glimpse of your motives, whether or not you intended that or care. They want more than the cheapest price, they want value and that often is in the form of emotional appeal. Using a big picture mentality, we help a company match what they SAY they’re going to do with what the customer experiences and in doing so, give you a terrific ROI of your marketing dollars. Analysis, then innovation and implementation. Not an analysis by someone busy running their company and unaware how their company really looks to the public. Being proactive instead of reactive. Bettering yourself and your company so you offer true value, not an extra layer of frosting on a stale cake.

Honesty and Integrity Backed Up By Hard Data

At Hardenbrook Marketing Solutions we believe in the old adage “trust but verify”. We don’t build our Internet Marketing Solutions on guesswork, we design Marketing Programs according to a proven plan, with tested technology delivered by partners we have screened carefully. We take a “big picture” approach, analyzing the effectiveness of your existing programs and incorporating what’s working into the new, dumping what’s not and adding systems and automation wherever possible. Best of all, we back up our analysis with hard, verifiable data, something that will clearly show which marketing efforts are producing results, which need to be modified, and which need to be discontinued as unproductive. You’ll know exactly what you’re getting for your money, down the individual sale, ad response, and conversion ratio for that particular tool.

To learn more about how we can promote your companies growth, schedule a FREE consultation with our Founder, Eric Hardenbrook. Take action, ask questions, and in one 30 minute conversation see the target more clearly so you can hit what you want to be aiming at.

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