Last week, I discussed how the internet is changing how we all do business. In the final part of this blog post on committing to content, I suggest how you can provide your clients and customers with engaging, interesting and valuable content, as well as advice for interacting with your customers online.
Maximising your online presence
They are many ways to enhance your online presence. As discussed last week, a good website is key for capturing your customer’s attention, interest (and business!). However, it is also possible to promote your offering via other channels, some of which are better for directly interacting with your customers. These include:
Become a thought leader in your field by displaying your knowledge, both through your own blog and by commenting on the blogs of others.
In many ways, Twitter is the ultimate opt-in list for lead generation. People choose to follow you and hear your updates, and can opt out as soon as they are not interested anymore. It certainly sounds like a qualified lead source to me! As well as a channel for announcing news, use Twitter to interact with your customers (via retweets and mentions) and provide them with interesting non-commercial content. If it’s good and interesting they will retweet it to their followers, but if it’s bad they will unfollow you with a click of the mouse.
Facebook is used by many a graduation student but as the millennial generation ages, expect to find more and more decision makers on here, using it to interact with friends, colleagues and business contacts. Right now, it’s a great way to interact with younger scientists, many of which make the purchasing recommendations that drive senior staff to buy your products.
In some ways, this is the more serious older brother of Facebook. Treat it as such, using it to interact with business contacts in a manner that exudes your sense of professionalism and commitment to excellence.
Videos can reach your customers in a way words never will. Therefore, this medium is perfect for tutorial videos showing the benefits your products have. Perhaps you could interview a customer whose problem your system has solved? Creative new ways of using video is currently one of the best ways to capture the interest of your customers and help push them through the buyer cycle.
- Flash-based media
Facilitating the creation of ‘rich’ media for internet browsers, this allows you to create games and other interactive online content. It can be costly but can also really differentiate you from your competitors.
Short for applications, these little programs run on smartphones and tablets. According to an Ofcom report, a third of all adults in the UK now use a smartphone. Therefore, how long before customers expect your kit to connect wirelessly to their phone in order to transmit data and let them know their experiment is complete…?
Top tips for quality online content
With such an array of options, getting your online mix right is essential. However, the success of any channel you use will depend on the quality of the content you provide. Below are a few points to help you maximise the attractiveness of your online offering.
1. Be interesting
Science is an interesting and enthralling pursuit. Tell customers about what’s going on in your company, not as a sales pitch but so that they know you are as passionate and enthusiastic about science as they are. Don’t do much science in-house? That’s no reason not to get involved. There’s plenty going on, and I’m betting you have the internal expertise to provide insight and comment on cutting edge topics. Capture a reader’s attention, and you’ll capture their business.
2. Solve problems and provide context
Don’t list every feature of every product, with no information on how it’s used to solve problems. Life scientists seek answers to real life technical, research and production challenges, not the fact that the product you sell is made of the reputation-enhancing, superpower providing, mega-shiny plastic. Incorporate this into your thinking, whether it’s in press releases, web pages, emailers or anything else that’s part of your marketing mix.
3. Think like your customer
As well as solving their problems, you should phrase things using the types of language that your customers tend to use. Not only will this maximise your searchability on sites such as Google and Bing, it will also ensure that you and your clients can understand what each other is saying, quickly and accurately.
4. Expertise is a product
Does your company have a myriad of PhDs, professors, engineers or consultants on staff? Then utilise them. Your customers don’t just buy from you because your products are good. They buy from you because you and your team know what you are talking about, built on a base of expertise and experience. Don’t be scared to make this obvious through twitter, blogs and thought leadership articles, whether hosted online or printed. You don’t always have to mention a product to be selling your company’s knowledge and values (somewhat like this blog post!).
The web is all about two way communication. Don’t rely on shouting your message at your customers until they buy or their ears bleed. Find out what they want, then provide it. The web offers the best (and cheapest) targeted market research you could ever undertake. Comment on blogs, provide Q and A opportunities on your site and generally get yourselves out there!
6. Get involved but use your common sense
The web tends to be indelible. Blogging, tweeting and commenting is a great way to increase your market presence. However, treat everyone with respect, patience and common courtesy – you never know who you will be doing business with in the future.
7. Don’t write/post/blog/tweet for the sake of it
While constantly providing and updating the content you distribute is important for maintaining interest, a high level of quality and relevance is essential at all times. This way, your customers will continue to pay attention to your hard work (and excellent products and services!), rather than tuning out.
Achieving all this at once – not in the real world!
To achieve everything suggested over the course of these two blog posts takes a lot of time and money. For that reason, I’m not suggesting you run off and attempt them all at once. Instead, tackle one thing at a time and do it well. Does your website need a refresh – then go through it page by page making improvements. You want to start blogging? Then spend a bit of time commenting on the blogs of major thought leaders in your field. This will already help to raise the profile of your company, your expertise and ultimately your products! Rome wasn’t built in a day – neither was an effective online marketing campaign. Don’t rush and don’t over stretch. Set a small goal, achieve it and then move on to the next.
This article was originally published by me on the Alto Marketing blog.