The search marketing world constantly changes. This year Google introduced personalized search and universal search. Microsoft created new paradigms for their shopping search and health search verticals.
Social search is having a bigger impact than ever. Witness the thunderous growth of Facebook and Google's response with its OpenSocial initiative. Recently, I listened to a Seth Godin webinar about how the Web has become a "Meatball Sundae." Today we're going to talk a little bit about how to cope with all the changes with the benefit of Seth's perspective.
Lisa Barone does a nice job of covering the webinar here. I'm going to pick up on a few elements of what Seth had to say, and expand upon them in this week's column.
Here are a few highlights summarized from Seth's comments (in italics below), with a few additions of my own:
People (consumers) can and will be heard in the current environment. There's no way to sweep something under the rug any more. So embrace it. Be the best at dealing with your critics. This will surely distinguish you from your competition.
Consumers can talk to other consumers on the Web. They can, and they will. It's a fact of life. Dealing with this demands openness and full disclosure. Again, a way to distinguish yourself from competition.
Have an authentic story. Know what the key value proposition is for your business. What can you do for people with your product or service? Who are the people you want to reach? Make sure everyone in your business knows the answers to these questions.
Who you reach is more important than how many people you reach. Reaching the right people is one key to success. For example, it may well be better to reach 1,000 genuine prospects than to reach 1 million random people. This also factors into link building efforts. Links from key influencers will beget more links, and also more likely to be seen as authoritative by search engines.
There were many other key points made by Seth about recent changes in the market. Here are a few:
--The long tail is more important than ever.
--The drive to outsource is continuing.
--We live in the attention challenged generation.
--Bundling is dead as a concept, because consumers want to pick and choose.
--There's a lot of noise in the market, making it hard for your message to be heard.
Your First Steps
So what do you do in this chaotic environment? First and foremost, don't lost sight of the fact you need to be the best at something, or offer the cheapest option. Make sure your value proposition is very simple to recognize. People won't have time to think about it, so you need to smack them in the face with it.
What are you selling? Is it the same thing your customers think it is? There are many companies out there that get paid for selling a product, but what the customers are buying is the service that comes with it.
Once you have these questions sorted out make sure every layer of your organization -- and all your business partners -- recognize and can express your value proposition without difficulty.
Now that you know what your unique value really is, you can begin to think about the best ways to market it. Never, ever, lose sight of what your business is about while you are considering your marketing options.
Marketing opportunities should not define your business. Rather, your business should define what marketing opportunities are interesting. The way you promote your business needs to directly, or indirectly, put your value proposition in front of the people who need to see it.
Indirect marketing is OK in some cases, as long as you have a clear understanding of how this may lead to your potential customers seeing what you have to offer.
It's really easy to lose sight of these things in our chaotic world. Stay very, very focused, and be patient. Keep going back to the core values of your business and your decision making will improve dramatically.