5 Online Marketing Trends To Guide You In A Rapidly Changing Marketplace
Have you noticed that the strategies and methods that worked online six months ago aren't working any more? Email works differently than it used to: open and click thru rates have dropped. Article marketing has changed too. If you post your article to your site and then submit to dozens of article banks for those linkbacks, it can actually hurt you. Google can call them unnatural links and penalize you. Duplicate content also hampers your ability to earn with Google Adsense.
You can run circles around the ‘why' of it, but that won't help you hone in on what's next. What will help? I recently participated in a panel discussion hosted by my colleague and friend, Marnie L. Pehrson, of IgnitePoint.com. The discussion also included fellow IgnitePoint Guides, and successful online entrepreneurs: Dr. Ellen Britt from MarketingQi.com, Lisa Rae Preston from StepIntoDestiny.com, Janis Pettit from Small Business-Big Results.com, Kathleen Gage of KathleenGage.com, Laura West from JoyfulBusiness.com, Terri Zwierzynski from Solo-E.com, and Carolyn Cooper from SimplyHealed.com.
Here's the inside scoop on what's hot and what's not:
1. Align your business and marketing with your core strengths and heart-based passion.
If your business is feeling lackluster, and you're just doing it for the money, you may need to reinvent or even blow up your business. Marnie urged, “Invest in something you really believe in.” She recently took that bold leap of faith by shutting down her profitable Ideamarketers site. Businesses today require a new level of authenticity and you must invest your energy and time in what stirs your heart. And, you also want to narrow your niche and create quality content for it. In today's cluttered marketplace you have to have a “stand out message and a stand out brand,” as Janis brilliantly shared. Pick marketing that showcases your strengths: it might be audio, video, or writing. As Kathleen put it, “You have to have your own authentic message that will attract your own authentic market.”
2. Create targeted, quality content that serves your market.
Create awesome content, but keep it short and sweet. Free teleclasses that are more promotion than content, whose main purpose is to upsell, are a definite no-no. You've got to provide value. Long boring information no longer works. Folks are accessing your content on teeny screens, like the iphone and ipad. With short attention spans and instant access attitudes, they don't have time to read long material, including that scrolling sales page copy. Figure out how you can address value and pricing at the shorter, sweeter length. Infuse yourself in it by using video and creative, out of the box ways to deliver value.
- Make your freebie relevant, valuable and memorable. Terri summed this up best, “Flimsy freebies don't work anymore. It used to be that you could throw anything out there to get people on your list… You can't give people a 3-page ebook, triple space it, put it in 14 point font with 3 pages of disclaimers, and say it's a valuable freebie. You need to have something that's valuable content. Give them something you'd normally sell for $19-$49.” It has to stand out in order to gain attention. How can you position, and showcase, the value you bring to others and rise above the noise? Lisa gave us some great ideas, “Make it highly relevant and useful to the end user, preferably something they can use immediately and often. What is something that your market complains about? Come up with something that solves the frustration in minimal time with minimal effort. Have it solve a simple irritation. Maybe it's a checklist, template, blueprint, or a collection of resources. You want them to remember you every day they use that content and to share it. A short, sweet, compact solution to your problem will spread like a virus.”
- Hand pick the sites where you'll feature your content. Marnie shared that she writes a monthly column for The Future of Ink, a digital publishing blog founded by colleagues Ellen Britt and Denise Wakeman, and she doesn't post it elsewhere. Today, more than ever, your marketing must be focused and fresh to attract the ‘right' customers.
3. Build a small, focused and intimate community for yourself and your clients.
Relationships are the most important resource you have in your business. Janis pointed out that the members of the IgnitePoint panel are a perfect example of “high value, high integrity relationships. Relationships definitely rule!”
- Use the power of social media to deepen your connections with your colleagues. One of the easiest ways you can deepen the ones you have is by starting a Facebook group. Marnie shared how her colleagues supported and gave her feedback while she was redesigning her business using this strategy. It's also what she used to research and write one of her most recent books, Light the World: How Your Brilliance Can Shift The Planet.
- Create rapport, deepen trust and provide a supportive environment for your clients. Facebook groups provide an opportunity for you to connect with your clients and community so that you can provide them with what they want. Ellen, shared how she uses a Facebook group to be in daily connection with her mastermind group. People get to really know and trust each other. This close connection will help you deepen your relationships and also help you build your business. Her current mastermind group is helping to fill up her next mastermind group!
- Prospective clients want to connect personally, not only professionally. Lisa summed this up beautifully, “People like to see you beyond the entrepreneurial veil as a real human being and find out some personal information about you. Potential clients will look at the kinds of posts you make, your profile pictures, even your friends, to decide whether they want to work with you or not.” People can see you every day on social media and feel like they have a relationship with you, just like media personalities. Kathleen shared how her love of animals, sharing pictures and posts about her pit bull helps her attract her market. Clients today want to have a relationship with you and that's why social media is crucial. It provides an opportunity for you to reveal your personal interests and connect with others who share them.
4. Create offers that are fine tuned, offer great value, and are differentiated.
- PEG your offers! Offer your prospective clients a personal touch, provide an experiential environment, and give participants an opportunity to get it done. It's what I have discovered in my own business by providing programs that have very specific outcomes, like ‘Build Your List with Expert Interviews‘ instead of the mind boggling ‘listbuilding'. It also means delivering your training in byte sized bits, which is the antidote to overwhelm. This creates an experience of success, which increases confidence and clarity. Once folks have experienced results in your programs they are much more likely to continue working with you. Ellen uses a term from her days as a Physician's Assistant, “Treat 'em and street 'em.”
- High ticket offers that are fine tuned, differentiated and of exceptional value. High ticket programs are no longer an easy sell, you have to work a lot harder to make them. Ellen shares that, “Clients seem to be much more discerning about the sort of programs that they are willing to put down significant money on. You can look at this as an advantage: the folks are much more qualified and it pushes you as an entrepreneur to get on top of your game.” Today's customers are much more savvy: they do a lot more research and they want substance, not surface fluff.
5. Spice up your message with creative education.
People want to learn in ways that are new and unique. Laura urged us to, “Make it inspiring, easy to read, entertaining and give it to them in byte-sized bits to consume.”
- Create interactive content. Free teleclasses that are all lecture, pure information, with no interaction don't work anymore. Information is out, experience is in. Whether it's a teleclass, or a giveaway, make it interactive. Use assessments, give them feedback, make it personal and valuable. Host Q&A webinars. Provide extraordinary value and give folks an opportunity to ask real questions about the content. Infuse yourself in these interactive experiences. Let who you are shine through.
- Use whole brain learning. Explore how you can bring in left brain (practical) learning with right brain (creative) learning to create a whole brain learning experience. People want to be highly engaged, inspired, educated and that can easily be done through visuals. 85% of us are highly visual. Use visual content: infographics, info doodles, visual maps, Pinterest, and Slideshare.
When you jump in on these five trends you're sure to cut through the noise and be heard. Don't forget to tap into the most important resource in your business: trust your intuition. Carolyn reminded us, “Get out of your head, drop down into your heart, be still, listen. Do your business from your heart, build your business energetically. Set it up with the intention in the energy field – how you want it to look first – then just follow the promptings that come to you.”
This is just a smattering of what was covered on the call. Ellen also shared tips on how to launch your own mastermind. Want to listen in on the interview and get first hand experience of this dynamic conversation? You can still download the audio by registering here.
What marketing trends have you noticed in your business? I'd love for you to add to the collective wisdom by posting below. Thanks!