The New Internet Marketing Machine
By Stephanie Beck
The New Internet Marketing Machine
By Stephanie Beck
In 2011, 97% of consumers used online searches when researching products and services. When searching for specific products and services, where do you think these smart savvy shoppers are finding this information? Where are you going to find your IDEAL customers, or any customers for that matter? You have new marketing machines at your disposal and as long as you are using them correctly, they will produce great results. As a massage therapist, you want to focus on what you do best, massaging people. Finding those people doesn't have to be a struggle. Go where your customers are spending time and implement new marketing machines with strategies to get you the results you desire.
Social media and online marketing options keep advancing and it can be difficult to keep up with the changes, let alone trying to figure out which option is right for you. For some, about the time they decided to step into the social media world, all the rules changed; like the recent 180 degree change with Facebook. If you're one of the people late to the social media party, there is a bright side. Instead of trying to catch up with your competition, you now have an even playing field because everyone has to upgrade their technology. The truth is that marketing has shifted from a one-way broadcast to a multi-point conversation and you need to take action to stay competitive.
"Old school" marketing techniques like sending out catalogs, direct mail and Yellow Page ads are losing their effectiveness without additional help from online marketing. According to Yahoo, 92% of all business searchers start looking online, either at home or on their mobile phones. Is your massage business easy to find online by your ideal customers? Are you active in all the places where your ideal customers are hanging out online? Do you have an easy, automated way to follow up with them over time? If not, why not?
Developing A New Online Strategy
Updating your strategy is important. When I started working for a massage manufacturer more than 12 years ago, as part of our distributor criteria we would ask massage businesses inquiring about distributorships to submit a copy of their Yellow Page ad with their application. A few years later, we upgraded by requiring websites and even more changes have been implemented since then. Do you realize that brand new massage business owners entering today's workforce have no idea what a Yellow Pages phone book is? Last week, the Encyclopedia Britannia announced they would no longer be printing any new editions because everything would be accessed online. This isn't just about the newest generation. When today's consumer wants to look something up they grab their phone or computer, not a book.
In 2011, more than 90% of the U.S. population used a cellular phone. Sixty five percent of mobile users said they used their mobile device to find a business to make a purchase. In terms of the types of information mobile users will be looking for via their devices, 31% said they will look for updates on sales and promotions and 27% will look for local store hours and directions. Guess what, a certain percentage of those people are looking for massage. In how many online directories have you listed your massage business? Yelp, City Search, Insider Pages, Merchant Circle, Google Places, Facebook Places and Yahoo Local are great ways to get started and all free. Your strategy for directories is to be complete and be consistent. Make sure you use the same spelling, the same way for all listings. Fill in as much as you can; photos, videos, mission statement, services and anything else they want to know about your business. Finally, ask friends to like and place reviews on these directories and let your customers know where you can be found.
With any social media sites, one great strategy is to always think like the customer. Anticipate their needs and what they will be searching for online. Maybe they are looking for a way to relax, de-stress or seeking information about pain management? Could a massage benefit anyone struggling with stress or pain? Of course, so be smart when it comes to sharing information. Think in terms of how your ideal customers will need help. What kind of answers are your customers and potential customers seeking and how does your service meet those needs? Now pretend you are having a conversation with them, ask questions and share information about solutions without being a commercial about your business. Use the 80/20 rule; 80% educational, 20% promotional. At least once a week, be sure to include a post specifically for a special, promotion, offer, coupon or other reason for potential or current customers to make a purchase now.
Marketing online is no longer just having a website where people can come to find your business. It's about going where your customers are online and connecting with them in those locations. Internet search engines, directories and social media are fast, fuel-burning engines. If you're not delivering something new on a regular basis, you're going to get left on the side of the road by someone else who is. Once you get found, engage with your followers on their terms. Get them to follow you on Twitter, Fan you on Facebook, or subscribe to your YouTube channel. Offer more insightful information, expert perspective, recommendations and news.
The Power Of YouTube
If used effectively, online video is the most powerful way to educate, inform, and build a community of customers and potential customers for your business.
Did you know most consider YouTube to be the second largest search engine? YouTube gets more than 300,000,000 visitors a month who watch more than 2,000,000,000 videos. Consumers go there to look for videos to answer their questions, show them how to do something, or review a product or business. When consumers are searching for information online and given a choice of reading content or watching a video, approximately 56% will choose to watch a video. If you want to use YouTube as a part of your marketing machine, you need to create informational-based videos, not promotional videos. People don't care about your product or service. They care and choose to do business with people who have solutions to problems they need solved. If you are going to create videos, make them about solving problems for your customers and remember to include a clear "call to action" or next step that you want them to take after they watch the video. Also, when you post your video, include in your description a website link or contact information of how viewers are to reach you.
Another avenue for business development is a blog. Did you know there are more than 200,000,000 blogs? People are more likely to visit blogs that align with their interests because blogs are non-selling environments. This should be good news for massage therapists who are not comfortable "selling." Think about it, you have completed several hours of education and attended many continuing education courses. You have more knowledge of the working body than the average consumer. Do you think you can share helpful information about the body or how massage can help the body? If your best friend was suffering from stress, inflammation or other forms of pain, what advice would you share to help them? Does massage help any of these? How? Why? You could probably easily explain in 500 words or less to your best friend how massage can help them. Try that mind set when you think about blogging. Topical blogs and article directories establish authority and credibility for you and your massage business. Wordpress is the most used website with a blog format; you can also use livejournal, Tumblr or Travelpod.
Many Options To Choose From
More than 800,000,000 monthly users of Facebook make this a very powerful part of the new internet marketing machine. The fact that Facebook recently changed their strategy has created an even playing field for all businesses using this tool. The new strategy for Facebook is to visually attract your customers, engage them and converse with them on a regular basis. No drive by postings. Don't post something and walk away for a week. Set it up so your page responses are connected to your e-mail so you can easily respond to anyone who makes a comment or likes your page when you are checking your e-mails. Set aside a specific time to invest in any social media sites and stick to this time.
One of the fastest growing social sites is Google+ and Google+ Pages. Google reported more than 100,000,000 active users within the first year. Facebook took almost 18 months to reach their first 100,000,000 and Google seems to have picked up steam. They offer many features for businesses; you can create circles and your content is indexed quicker since it is owned by Google.
LinkedIn has more than 100,000,000 users monthly. Since this forum is mostly used by professionals, the most powerful strategy is to be part of the discussions. Join groups where your knowledge and services can be applied. Look for discussions with other business owners where you both can benefit. This is also a good way to stay connected with other professionals and organizations within your massage industry. We all need to be connected and sometimes it is best to do that with others that share an understanding of our struggles first hand.
One of the more "up and coming" social sites is Pinterest. This new social site is certainly visually engaging. Businesses and individuals "pin" interesting photos, poems, inspirational quotes, recipes, patterns, and all kinds of information. Have a similar strategy as the new Facebook, use visually engaging photos and share educational information. Although you cannot mention your website, phone or e-mail, you can still share information that will increase your changes of being viewed as an expert and develop trust with potential clients.
Marketing online isn't an option anymore, it's a requirement. It's where your prospects and customers are searching to find businesses they can trust to buy services and get their problems solved. As you build relationships, you will earn their trust and more importantly, earn their business. Continue to engage and follow up. Continue to provide valuable information and continue to make offers 20% of the time. Integrate all the elements of your marketing machine so they amplify each other and are working together to keep your massage business going and growing.