We are going to go down memory lane again, but this time we are going to talk about how we made it easy for potential customers to find us before the advancement of technology. We used mediums that primarily involved printed materials that were delivered in different ways than they are today. Those methods included:
Phone directories, especially for local work. We would guess what terms someone would look for and list ourselves under each category.
Regional, state, and national directories gave us the option of pursuing broader markets.
Our trusted sales force would go out beating the streets and promote us with various collateral. Sometimes this would be your own people, or it may have been the strong distributor or trade sales group.
Depending on your product line and your presentation, you might have a catalog of your products. These may or may not have been sent in mailings depending on the application and how you thought the customer would use the catalog.
Magazine ads focused on the vertical markets we served. There would always be an association with members we wanted to attract, so we would place ads in their magazines talking about a new service or product. Normally the method was successful.
Billboards were always a fun option for specific applications as well. Now they have become mobile, which gives you the ability to get even more creative. Don't you enjoy watching a public transportation bus go by with an advertisement wrapped around it? Especially knowing that someone printed it?
When I contemplate the difference in marketing practices from years ago to now, it always fascinates me how things have changed. Some practices have changed a lot, while others have not changed much. It has not been that many years, but with the rapid advancement of technology, there has been a tremendous difference in how we approach all aspects of business, especially marketing.
While several of the listed methods are still functional and have their place in our great world, with new technology the customers have alternative methods for finding you now. Christy is going to give you some examples of how you can position yourself to be "found" by potential customers using e-commerce.
James Lowry is the general manager of Lightning Labels, an all-digital label printer in Denver, CO, USA. He is a 25-year veteran of the printing industry with experience in digital, flexo, offset, and commercial printing.
The last time a pile of phone books was dropped off on my porch, I saved one to use as a doorstop. I then promptly crammed the rest into the recycle bin.
Back in the day, phone books were indispensable. If shoppers didn't have recommendations from trusted friends or colleagues, they typically picked up a phone book to find what they needed. The process was tedious, especially if you were searching for something more obscure than, say, a beauty salon.
While phone books and other print directories still have their place, the widespread adoption of the internet and the proliferation of ecommerce tools have made it easier for prospects to find you. Let's examine two ways internet users commonly find businesses.
Review sites such as Yelp and Citysearch are go-to resources for many savvy consumers these days. This is particular true of smart phone users, as both directories have created mobile apps.
Getting listed in associational directories is a great tactic for putting your business in front of qualified buyers. If you want to cover your bases, sign up for YP, the new version of yellowpages.com. One of the coolest things about online directories is they often report how many times your listing is viewed and clicked. The analytics client you use to monitor your website traffic will provide even more information.
"Googling" has become popular as search engines such as Yahoo, Bing and Google have become more sophisticated, allowing internet users to find exactly what they want. The more specific the search, the more likely the internet user will become your customer. For instance, if someone searches for "printers" and your business exclusively prints custom stickers for sports organizations, any traffic you receive from that search is less "qualified" than traffic generated from a search for "custom sticker printer." Traffic from a search for "custom sports stickers" would be even more qualified, and the query "custom stickers for sports organizations" would be pure gold. The bottom line: The more qualified the visitor to your website is, the greater the odds are that they will become your customer. So make sure that both broad and specific internet searches lead users to your site.
Leveraging online directories and internet search are just two ways to make it easier for modern consumers to find you. Keep reading this column to learn more.
Christy Correll is the online marketing specialist at Lightning Labels, where sales are driven primarily through eCommerce activities.