Are you prepared to take advantage of changes in buyers’ online behavior?
Marketing has traditionally been passive. You create an advertisement for your business, and you place it in a magazine. You create a commercial for your business, and you run it on television or the radio. You write a direct mail campaign (letter, postcard, etc.), and you send it to a rented mailing list. Each of these is an example of a traditional marketing effort. Traditional marketing worked for many years. However, it no longer works as it once did. These days, buyers no longer have to rely on marketers to bring them information about the products and services they want to buy. The Internet allows buyers to share that information freely among themselves. Today, if I want information about a product or service, I am far more likely to ask my network of friends (my social network) about their experience with a particular product or service than I am to take a marketer’s word for it.
OK, we all know that — so as business owners, what do we do about it??
Competition and the changing behavior of buyers has impacted Internet marketing.
B uyers continue to flock to search engines when they want to find information, or when looking for a product or service that they need. So continued presence on Google and the other top search engines remains important. But what’s changing is the behavior of buyers before they make the decision to purchase or engage with you. One of the biggest reasons for that is simply the sheer number of competitors that can be found online for the products or services that you offer. With so many choices, buyers are looking for additional information or advice before making that purchase decision, picking-up the telephone, or filling-out that contact form on your website. They are looking for referrals.
How to take advantage of the changes in buyers’ online behavior.
Here are three things that you can do right now to take advantage of the changes in buyers’ online behavior:
- Join groups on LinkedIn that your clients belong to. Regularly visit those groups and scan the messages and discussions that are posted by the members. Jump into a discussion when you know the answer to a member’s question, or can add value to the conversation. Don’t say anything about your business and do not try to promote yourself; simply add value to the discussion. If you do this on a regular basis, members of the group will begin to recognize you as a thought leader and will look at your LinkedIn profile and connect with you. Of course, make sure that your profile is up-to-date and includes information about your business and your website address.
- Give referrals in order to receive referrals. Make a goal to give a specific number of referrals this year, and to receive half that number. For example, my goal is to give 25 referrals this year and receive 12. That’s an average of two referrals that I need to give each month, and one that I should expect to receive in return. (Michael J. Maher’s book, “The Seven Levels of Communication,” does an excellent job of explaining the benefits of giving referrals to others.) As you develop your referral network, you’ll be viewed more favorably when prospects and buyers find you online.
- Identify your buyer personas. In a previous article, I explained the concept of “buyer personas” and why they are important. As prospects and buyers become increasingly aware and their online behaviors change, it is imperative to know how and where to engage with them. There is no better time to do this than right now!