The New Kid on the Block – Outreach Marketing

“OK so all I have to do is get a bunch of friends on Facebook, buy some advertising time and then I can sell all my stuff right?”

Wrong! That’s the idea most people have when they think of marketing online.  Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work like that. No, the web has changed the way a business of any size needs to market.

It’s just not enough to advertise your product or service anymore. You just have too much competition for this to be effective. Instead you have to reach your consumer in the way he wants to be reached.

Today’s consumer is smart, knows what he wants and isn’t easily impressed by hype. This ultra-modern consumer wants you to answer these all-important questions:

  • Why?
  • Why should I be interested in your services?
  • Why buy this particular product?
  • And more importantly: Why should I buy from YOU?

Not to worry though; there is a type of marketing that addresses these consumer questions; however, it has nothing to do with traditional selling. This is a new concept, a new online marketing trend, called outreach marketing. It is an effective way of increasing sales conversions by approximately 25% to 40%; this according to statistics set forth by Market Research, a leader in market analysis and research.  But, because outreach marketing is new, few businesses or entrepreneurs adapt to its methodology, a fact that makes this type of marketing even more effective for those who do.

The New Kid on the Block Outreach Marketing-01

What is Outreach Marketing?

This is a series of ideas and activities that take marketing back to its roots. Outreach marketing focuses on human to human connections and basic consumer psychology; working much like “word of mouth” has worked for thousands of years.

The Strategy of Outreach Marketing

Essentially, using outreach marketing effectively means you develop a strategic approach that helps your consumers learn and hear about your new products in the way they’ve always wanted. And when you take this new marketing and PR approach in the online world your efforts will be so much more effective. All you have to do is follow the 9 principles of outreach marketing, which in turn, will get you that word of mouth marketing and passion you need your customers to have for your services or products.

People Trust that Third Non-related Party Reference

As detached as the modern day consumer has become from almost everything and everyone, that third party recommendation still carries a lot of weight. Having another person recommend a service is more important than you would think. You can talk about yourself until you are blue in the face, but if a friend, fellow employee or neighbour recommends another service, that’s the guy your consumer is going to go with.

How Can You Use this to Your Advantage?

Reach out to other businesses, bloggers or customers and ask them to write about your brand. Ask for a product or service review. Even when the bloggers aren’t willing to write it themselves, you can help them write the review and then just ask them to post it to their website or blog. In this case, you help your fellow blogger or entrepreneur by giving him fresh, free content, and he helps you by offering a recommendation.

Reach the Right People

Outreach marketing is about reaching the right people at the right time and letting them tell your story. This can include consumers who have a large social presence, and who are enchanted with your services, or other businesses that come from related industries who recommend your service.  This is where social media can help give you that outreach marketing, especially if you create content, posts and information that others who are interested in your niche can share.

Creating Connections

The biggest piece of the puzzle when it comes to outreach marketing is making consumers, readers and your public in general, feel like they are a part of your business growth. Letting them feel a part of your business. How do you that? Communicate with your consumer, ask questions, offer rewards, send personal thoughts on birthdays or special days.

Practice Authenticity

Today’s consumer wants to see who sits behind the company’s profile. They want authentic and relevant. They don’t want that salesy attitude. The best way to achieve this is by interacting with your audience, engage them with real content, comments and questions.

Bottom Line

If there were just one word that could define what outreach marketing is, that would be creativity. It is a way of engaging with your audience in a way that is interesting and entertaining; a way that engages their interest and participation. That’s a key to this type of marketing. It’s finding that creative path that none of your competition is taking.

Up to the Challenge: How to Research Competitors

It’s sad but true: somewhere, somebody is doing exactly what you do. They might even be doing it better. If you want to command top dollar for your services, delight and surpass the expectations of your clientele and bolster your strategy, it’s time to come to terms with this fact, and use it to your advantage.

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Identify the Culprits

Identify those companies who are strategically opposed to yours. They might offer a similar product or service, and impact directly or indirectly on your target market. Make a list of the top five direct competitors to monitor, and scope out their websites, branding and services with a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis. With this information in hand, set to work honing your competitive edge, whether it’s undercutting their costs, improving on their offer with a new promotion, or reassessing your business to fill a niche in the market.

Socialize, and Often

Social media offers a vast window into the world of your competition, and abundant opportunities for prospecting. Follow your rival’s Twitter account and fan their Facebook. Subscribe to all their feeds, newsletters and blogs. It’s likely that those who follow your competitors have some investment in their offer, so try to get them to follow you, too. You might just find out what it is that makes them love your competitor more than you. Is it sparkly, witty copy, a weekly promotion or giveaway, or beautiful brand presentation and edgy photography? Learn to master your brand in 140 characters, and you can conquer the (business) world.

Know Your Enemy

Gaining some intelligence on the individual behind your competition is a great way to scope out an advantage. A simple director search can reveal their previous enterprises, successes, failures, strengths and weaknesses. There are plenty of reputable, reliable business information services online that are only too willing to fill you in on such gleaming nuggets of intel as net worth, credit scores, and even CCJs.  

Read All about It

If you have a PR-hungry competitor, add a Google alerts subscription for their business name, or keywords related to your industry to reveal new businesses on the scene. It might not be pleasant to read about their latest $30,000 investment or glittering new product launch, but at least it won’t come as a shock, and it could help you appraise your own investment potential.

Analyze Their Online Presence

Beyond the surface benefits of snooping around your competitor’s website, you might reveal some juicy intelligence if you look a little deeper. There are some great online services that can show you the pages that link to your competitor’s website. This is a terrific way to identify lucrative collaborations and potentially reveal a little more about their online advertising strategy.

Large companies invest millions of dollars, and devote entire departments to Strategic and Competitive Intelligence; it’s simply a necessary evil of striking out on your own in business. Don’t let your customer base be chipped away by your competition. Arm yourself with every scrap of information that you could possibly need to realize your own potential. After all, business is a dog eat dog world.

Jamie Aldrin is an SEO and social media expert and has helped numerous businesses, great and small, to boost their online presence (and their profits).

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