Digital Marketing and Honesty

A while back, I shared a very interesting conversation with a Sales and Marketing professional, a personal buddy, while travelling to our respective offices. Amidst pointless chatter, he mentioned in detail an elaborate marketing con he had to pull in order to entice a prospective customer into making a hurried purchase. Apparently, the core focus was to make the sale rather than create a partnership, to plant the seeds of loyalty and open a solid platform for exchange of ideas. For a moment, I envied his take on marketing and people management. A moment later, I realised how wrong and uncalled for this approach was.

Online Marketing

Am a Digital Marketer- instead of using words and face-to-face convincing skills, I rely on fresh content, social media and loads of online innovation to sell my clients’ products, services or ideas. The other important ingredient that I must always be aware of is Honesty. Unlike traditional marketing, digital marketing looks at things from an elevated angle- the scope, the overall reach amongst prospective customers, and the lasting effects on prospects is many times more profound in the case of digital marketing as compared to traditional marketing techniques. Thus, a good digital marketing professional wields immense power- in terms of the promotional profile of a company.

Let me explain this with an example. The last client I handled was a rental car company that specialised in medium to higher end car rentals. This customer wasn’t aware about digital marketing or its many facets but was convinced that his investment into this new mode of promotion will bear good returns, and fast. Maybe, if I were a traditional marketer, I would have towed his viewpoint and only be bothered about my sales numbers. However, as a responsible practitioner of the digital marketing craft, I chose to make him aware about the ground realities- it will take upto 6 months before his company website will feature prominently on search results over Google, Bing and Yahoo. His website needed a ton of modification and all this would cost him a sizable bundle of money. I’am not appalled at discussing the monetary factors involved- I give a more steadfast assurance of attracting reliable leads as compared to anything a traditional marketer would give him! Same goes for the target audience for the Campaign too- if it ain’t honest, my promotional pitch will be quickly shot down. Over the internet, bad opinions spread like an uncontrolled wildfire.

Digital Marketing is akin to throwing a very tiny pebble into a very large pond. Anything bigger and the creatures of the pond will fight against this ‘intrusion’. Anything smaller and your impact will not be registered by anyone. By choosing the right tools, the perfect time frame and the correct platform (read Social media websites, blogs, forums and other SEO techniques) the most relevant impression can be made in the minds of your prospective customers to draw the most timely response. This is the essence of Digital Marketing- and it tastes great when served alongside honesty.

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#Startup Go- Social Media to the Rescue

 I have had a long association with Startups and the mentality that goes along with it. Currently, as a Digital Marketing expert, I see that creature of four years ago as a naïve dreamer who could have benefitted immensely from what I know today. But I do respect the Startup Spirit- that unbridled, energetic outlook on situations that uses sheer willpower to negate anything negative. I am also wary of that feeling of being on the edge of a great discovery, the self-imposed gag against spilling the secrets about my ‘BIG’ idea. The Startup Spirit calls for that perfect product, that perfect moment before climbing the rooftops and shouting about your big product or service. But wait, is the world really gonna care? What if, you have delayed the launch to the extent that the product or service now lies redundant or worse- a mere replica of another marketed product?

blog Digital Marketing 101- If you have an idea, start talking about it today! If the initial budget doesn’t allow you to hire the professional services of a good Digital Marketing Company to setup your promotional infrastructure (website, branding etc), get online and start talking about your product on Social Media websites. Portals like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and LinkedIn allow you to connect with your potential target audience from the moment you have conceived the big idea, through the funding and startup stage, along product development, the market release and as a medium to generate and gather feedback. The stats say it all- 76 out of every 100 people have some type of Social Media presence, and are receptive to your BIG idea through this medium. It’s akin to plumpingup the fat goose before Christmas. That’s a figurative statement, of course.

Social Media allows you to keep things fresh. With silent yet powerful Digital Marketing techniques, you can introduce new facets of your products or services progressively without allowing your overall concept to get dated. Simple hooks like opinion polls, contests, changing design and catchy content updates can all serve to keep the interest alive and generate a fair buzz before your product or service is actually launched. In my previous startup, we managed to set the stage on fire for this unique ‘food discussion’ website that did nothing more than talk of food, great places to eat and popular experiences with food. 960 Facebook ‘Likes’, 300+ Twitter follow in a span of 7 days translated to a niche audience that was clamouring to talk of food when we would eventually release ten days later. See, there is a ready market- what remains to be done is to make some noise that will attract the right attention.

In conclusion, like the banner says, a Startup is a pretty confusing place. But, anything that drives you to make real change and contribute to the greater cause is always worth it. Embrace Digital Marketing; let Social Media be the Oracle that takes your ideas to the masses.

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#Startup Go- Blogs bring business

In the initial years of my digital marketing career, I believed that blogs were an intensely personal thing. I was a novice and did not know the rules of the game. And while I blogged about bad dinners and girlfriend trouble on my personal blog, other, more informed bloggers sourced millions worth of customer interest through their words alone. It was in the later years, after a plethora of experiences in digital marketing, that I realized- a personal blog is as good a promotional tool as your corporate blog.

Blogs for Business

Why? As always, there are reasons. I am compiling a select number of motives below-

It’s Personal– Corporate blogs are expected to be serious, singular and focussed. Most ardent readers will not be able to make an immediate connection as compared to a reader who happens to be a subject matter expert. A personal blog on the other hand is a fine cocktail of personality, expertise, humour, knowledge and interaction. In simple terms- Easy reading!!

It’s colourful– One of the most inspiring blogs I ever read dealt with about a dozen methods of making the perfect omelette. It helped that a number of these styles were explained with brightly coloured pictures that hit my appetite as much as my eyes. A personal blog allows for radical experimentation in pictures, themes and content. It appeal to the romantic and kid in us.

It masks an agenda– An informed reader knows that anything and everything available online has a set agenda. Ergo, all content on the World Wide Web is a digital marketing effort to prompt you into buying into an idea, service or product. While a corporate blog makes no bones about what its agenda is, people are more likely to be receptive to ideas that are masked with friendly, free writing.

It’s popular– Everyone is doing it, and the numbers are staggering. About 100,000 blogs are created on the WordPress platform each day; at the end of 2011 there were 181 million blogs- a 5 time increment from the numbers in 2006. The point is- blogs are a popular platform for exchange of ideas and stating a viewpoint. Also, bloggers are supportive of other bloggers, who aren’t seen as competition but fellow crusaders on a holy cause.

It’s adaptable– Fresh content makes the internet go round and round. The digital marketing fraternity utilises blogs as powerful tool for promotion with corporate blogs being a definite fixture on any corporate website. Facebook has changed its policies to encourage blogging (Remember the time when FB statuses were limited to just 140 characters?). Google+ is considered a blogger’s haven. Tumblr (hope it survives its dance with Yahoo!) brings a refreshing twist to personal blogging.

So, get up, grab that computer and start blogging. You don’t have to be an expert, an admirer of Shakespeare, or be able to charm a rattlesnake to compile that perfect blog. What you need is intent, interest and inspiration- and this little sustenance trick called Persistence.

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#Startup Go- Say it with a Website

Q– When does an individual reach the extreme edge of creativity, of independence and unimaginable responsibility while also singularly focussed on the unseen future?

A– When he or she forgoes the security of a predictable tomorrow and invests their time and energies into conceiving and running a Startup.

It’s a jungle out there- lots of people, lots of ideas. The current world is bent on entrepreneurship and honours the spirit of adventure. The boom of new companies and undertakings as seen in the last decade exceeds the modest numbers as set through the fifty years before that. What has been the spark that ignited this change?

  •  Prominence on Ideas rather than resources to setup a business.
  •  The Open World Wide Web and its free business friendly resources.
  •  Angel Investing, Crowd Sourcing and such ideas to raise investment.
  •  Society’s evolving attitude towards the spirit of Entrepreneurship.

Ok, so the business of setting up a new business is completed. What next?

Say it with a Website

You need a way to promote yourself, a space wherein your business can connect with its target audience, build up some interest about your ‘big’ idea, look for funding and help you analyse your audience in terms of impactful markets and demographics.

What your business needs is an attractive, opinion forming and reliable Corporate Website.

A good website doesn’t necessarily have to be complicated or taxing in terms of the money and resources put into it. Your corporate website is like a company brochure that is accessible 24×7, 365 days of the years, and can be viewed from anywhere across the world. If you are still working out a strategy towards marketing your big idea- while indulged in the Research & Development phase, a simple corporate website will help you understand your target audience better while simultaneously introducing your concepts to them.

Are you concerned about the Costs and the input of Time?

Good websites aren’t complicated manifestation of complex digital technology that can only be afforded by big corporates. A good website speaks your heart in simple yet powerful words and provides real value- an emotional connection with its target audience. The time you dedicate to it isn’t measured in terms of minutes spent, but impressions made.

And thus, if you are a Startup, looking for that powerful little website, you must feel super welcome at Toboc Biz. Our team understands the startup spirit and helps you transpire your expectations, dreams and energies into a neatly presented website. It’s magic when your expectations meet our expertise.

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5 Quick Tips – Create Websites that Work

Getting a website for your Company is an essentially in this age of the Internet and Digital Marketing. A website serves as a powerful medium to propagate your marketing message, an open brochure that is available 24×7 and can be accessed from anywhere on Planet Earth. However, getting a ‘good’ website is an urban myth unless these considerations are taken care of,

Tip 1- If possible; opt for a Content Management System (CMS)

CMS or HTML editors are great help- allowing you to modify content and images on your website easily and without the assistance of a certified Developer. CMS is important for businesses that have a lot of fresh details to report, saving greatly on the gross maintenance costs of the website.

Tip 2- Things to Avoid: Flash, Frames, Dark Colours, Popups   

Including these things make your website confusing, not responsive to search bots from Google, Bing, Yahoo etc, and generally unpleasant as far as the User Experience is concerned. The central idea of creating a website is to make it equally appealing to ordinary website visitors as well as the specialist search bots from the various search engines.

Tip 3- Launch the Complete Website, or Abort!

Broken Links, improper backend coding, confusing navigation scheme, Signs that say that pages are ‘Under Construction’, slow loading time are major roadblocks that prevent your website visitors (aka potential customers) from actually committing to your product or service. These nags show your lack of preparedness or worse, lack of responsibility.

Website that works

Tip 4- Include Lots of frequently updated Content

The latest online adage goes, ‘Content is King’. Your website will attract all the right attention (from visitors as well as search engines) if it includes fresh, relevant content that is frequently updated. The idea is to establish yourself as a ‘subject matter expert’ that is reflected in terms of your content inputs, with the frequent updates showing your level of activity, seriousness and commitment.

Tip 5- Be Original

Being ‘Inspired’ is good; inspiration that leads to plagiarized content is a crime. In terms of the overall design, content and theme, be as original as possible. There are many tools available online that easily detect plagiarized or copied content and can lead the owner of the said content to you. The result could be a legal problem and the possibility of being blacklisted by major search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo. This effectively kills any business prospects from your website and will have to be pulled down immediately.

There you have it- five simple tips that help you create powerful websites. However, this is just a minor list and a whole lot more ideas can be implemented or checked to derive the maximum mileage out of your Company website. Hiring a good Digital Marketing Company will help you develop the best product in terms of your investment. Also, the next crucial step, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) that allows your website to be picked up by search engines for specific keywords, is a task best performed by professionals. Like they say, ‘With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility’- you have the Power, use it responsibly.

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Bring in the Wow- Now!

Ever wondered what differentiates the ‘Perfect’ from just ‘good’? Why something is picked up, invested in, shown interest and encouragement, recommended to others, preserved for the future and talked about with gravity, while something similar (almost) is left to run in the shadows of the aforementioned winner?

The difference, dear reader, is the ‘Wow’ factor.

What is ‘Wow’? – The dictionary defines ‘wow’ as an utterance that one puts forth when astonished or in a deep state of admiration. You don’t ‘wow’ something that’s normal, mundane or expected. The ‘wow’ experience separates itself from the rest by its refreshing presentation and its ability to surprise and inspire.Bring WOW

I’am a fan of Michael Schumacher of 2010, when he was winning F1 titles left, right and center. In 2010, a chance meeting with my idol would have elicited a thunderous ‘Wow’, but the Schumacher of 2013, a shadow of his former awesome self will not inspire a response so strong. Moral- the ‘wow’ factor rapidly diminishes, and needs constant upkeep to maintain its ability to inspire time and time again.

In business, your company website stands as the façade that greets your prospective customers online. Imagine, your prospective customers arrive at your website after Google has suggested you as the most viable contender for the keywords supplied by them (thanks SEO). Your corporate website is designed to provide maximum information about your company while also being attractive to the eye, not very hard on the logical senses, easy to navigate and populated by powerful concepts and ideas that are brought to life by rich colours, images and powerful content. We can assure you, provided these strict parameters are met, 80% of your website visitors will go ‘Wow’.

And once the ‘Wow’ has been accomplished, your marketing message will have a much more receptive audience. Big brands routinely use this technique to maintain the aura surrounding their products and services, while a smaller brand, earnest in its approach, can still utilise the ‘wow’ factor to compete against its bigger competitors. The trick is to understand what it takes to completely impress your target audience, to put in place a disciplined system to achieve this target and finally, just go ahead and do it!

And if your efforts get you a ‘Wow’, use that as bedrock to build in more ‘wows’. Remember, something remains a novelty only for a short duration- the idea of attracting somebody with something fresh is a constantly decaying concept as the more people that utter the cherished ‘wow’, the less fresh the concept remains. Thus, reinvent. Once you have perfected a powerful mode of expression, little tweaks will further bring in more encouraging results. Here’s wishing you all the best ‘wowing’.

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Run your Business out of a Website

Pre- 2009 (Remember the Floppy disk?)

Define a business. A business is something that produces a product, renders a service and is essentially operated from an office (ignore the size) and involves a marketing division that communicates with the general public through means like Newspaper and mass media ads, Hoarding, fliers and a barrage of cold calls. Did I miss anything else, fundamentally this is it right?

Post- 2009 (Evolution of the Internet- Google and Facebook)

Define a business. A business is about ideas, products or services that are marketed from a facility that includes the corporate website as the front end representative. In the era of Facebook, Twitter and Google, Digital Marketing is the strongest means of promotion. Most fortune 500 companies of today comprise of a handful of employees, an idea that is angel or crowd funded, and utilizes creativity as the means of connecting with the target audience (replacing the stubborn sales pitches of before).

Evolution is a good thing. Evolution is designed to level the playing field while weeding out the potential winners from the ‘also rans’. Running a business today is all about that BIG IDEA. If you do have an idea, the next stage of organizing it can be done from your Home or if you are more traditionally minded, from your garage (la, Google and Apple). The point is that organizing an office infrastructure is optional. A good website, one that pulls all the bells and whistles, is sufficiently capable of running your promotions, marketing campaigns, queries for funding and invites for partnerships at a marginal investment as compared to setting up an actual office- with its cubicles, White boards, conference halls and water dispensers.

 Run your Business out of a Website

So, the next time you have that earth shattering, mind blowing, fully practical, ‘will convert into a truckload of money’ kinda idea, ignore the impulse (or the discouraging thoughts) of starting big and follow the simple 5 pointer effort-

  1. Build a good website that speaks of your idea sincerely from its HTML heart.
  2. Invite for funding- and relax, Angel funders of today are interested in the feasibility of your idea rather than the furnishing of your office.
  3. Your best online friends are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google- Use the unlimited power of Digital Marketing to promote your business.
  4. Keep talking about your business with gripping content. Let this content reach far and wide through the medium of the Internet.
  5. Sit back and never get complacent.

And that’s it. This marks the start of an exciting journey. If your idea is indeed something spectacular or your efforts the stuff of legends, herein is your chance to be counted amongst the best minds of our times.

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