I had one of my more interesting group of businesses in class in London last week. The businesses represented were (and their best actionable digital marketing tool):
- Distributing air conditioning units from England in the middle east (search, email)
- P2P lending to online businesses (referrals)
- Jobs marketplace for actors (social, prize)
- Social media community for collectors (partnerships, prize)
- Charity focusing on human rights violations (demographics)
- Stunt plane manufacture
- Indian indie film festival (prizes, loyalty/preferred customers)
- Gamified travel community (events)
- Gemstone mining, mine-to-market marketing (prize)
I wish I knew about all these types of professions as a kid!
The main thing I learned, reinforcing an older lesson, is that each business found a marketing tool that was right for them. I keep expecting a class to coalessce around one tool, like social or search. But in this class the students chose pretty much everything off the menu, with prizes getting the most interest. The “oldest boiler” story continues to inspire!
Social – UK vs USA
One humorous topic that came up was the difference between the British and Americans on showing “personality” on social. I believe that social tools (like Facebook) are a great place to show your customers a little bit more about who you are, to go behind the veil. The students thought that traditional British “stodginess” might make being yourself online less accepted. I encouraged them to go find out!
We spent some time talking about how to do research to find pockets of activity around your particular product or service (online conversations). The simplest tool is still Google. Put yourself in the shoes of your customer, pretend you are trying to find out more information about your product, and spend an hour on Google following links and seeing which communities are active. Or check out the Keyword Research Tool. Another good tool it to look at hashtags on Twitter. Search for a hashtag that is relevant to your business and then you can see the tweets associated with that hashtag and follow some links and personalities in those tweets. Both of these free tools will allow you to start exploring the digital landscape of your product.
There are also professional services like Radian6 (now part of salesforce) that can do “listening” reports to find out who is influential on certain topics on the web and where they post and are active. These tools are fairly expensive though, especially for a startup. I think the best way to start is to personally spend the time and effort getting to know the ins and outs of your online community, what they are interested in, what they search for and where they spend their time on the web.