Classic marketing books expound upon the four P’s of marketing: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. Well, when the place you are selling is the Web, product and price continue to be critical to your marketing efforts, but so is promotion. What’s different is the way you do promotion. Mass media promotion depends on getting attention—that’s where the overheated hype approach excels. But the Web requires a different approach that can be summarized as the three R’s.
You probably know that the breathless copy that may work in print rarely achieves the desired effect on the Web. And you may also be aware that the younger your customer, the less credibility the traditional hard sell has. Customers are becoming more suspicious of marketing or advertising of any kind. So, what are they looking for?
The Three R’s, that’s what. What must your marketing message be?
- Relevant. Customers increasingly are expecting that you won’t waste their time. Companies that responded to the advent of the “Do Not Call” Registry by cranking up e-mail spam are not getting it. You can’t keep finding more and more ways to interrupt people. At some point, you must embrace search marketing and Web site personalization approaches—a relevant ad is a winning ad. Instead of blanketing everyone with your 30-second TV spot, relevance-based marketing isolates the people most interested in what you are selling today.
- Real. Shut off the hype machine. Your customers want facts. They want you to be authentic. They want to be able to trust you. Blogs are more credible than press releases, in part, because your customers can comment on what you say, so that keeps you honest. Setting that authentic tone and providing information your customers really want to know–that’s the quickest way to “get real.”
- Responsive. The Web ends the one-way monologues of offline marketing. On the Web, you don’t deliver a message—you start a conversation. Or your customer starts a conversation with you. Either way, you need to be responsive, or the conversation ends. If your customers don’t like some of your company’s practices, for example, you must respond. Even small companies can’t hide from bad publicity any more, because your customers will write about your bad behavior, even if the mainstream media does not. Your customers may complain in public about your product or your customer service, so you must be prepared to adroitly respond.
Don’t be caught with a 20th century marketing program for new millennium customers. If you aren’t ensuring your message is relevant, real, and responsive, your customers will tune you out. Marketers who heed the three R’s will get the all-important fourth R—relationship. Your customers will buy and buy again, because you don’t waste their time, you’ve earned their trust, and you jump when they call.