There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all Internet strategy for businesses.
Rather, Internet strategies must be tailored for each business depending on how that business sells its products or services as well as who’s making the purchases, according to representatives from two Grand Junction marketing firms.
“It’s different for every company,” said Matthew Breman, owner of Cranium 360.
Breman said developing an Internet strategy is as fundamental a decision as determining a business model and depends on the answer to one basic question: “How do you use the Internet to support your business?”
Valerie Stow, an Internet marketing specialist with RSW Partners, said Internet strategies also must take into account target markets. “You really have to know who your customer is.”
Breman and Stow discussed Internet strategies for promoting businesses during a breakfast presentation at the Business Incubator Center in Grand Junction.
Breman said Internet strategies should be part of overall marketing plans that help businesses connect with existing customers and attract new customers. But those strategies vary greatly depending on the operations of those businesses. While Geico sells most of its insurance policies over the Internet, State Farm sells its policies through agents, he said. Wal-Mart sells most of its products at its physical stores, but Amazon.com sells products exclusively through the Internet. “How does your business function?” he asked.
Social media Internet sites — including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn — constitute more public relations than marketing, Breman said.
Stow said different Internet strategies are required to reach different customers. While traditional websites might appeal to some customers, others prefer social media sites.
LinkedIn, for example, offers a business-based social media site in which individuals can position themselves as experts on a given subject to promote awareness and credibility of their businesses, she said.
Internet strategies involving social media should offer value to customers as well as encourage interaction with them, Stow added. “You build more brand loyalty that way.”
Regardless of whether they’re using the Internet, print or broadcasting, businesses should convey a consistent marketing message, Breman and Stow said.
That consistency includes maintaining marketing and public relations efforts on an ongoing basis, not just when business slows. Stow said marketing through social media requires time, but less so if businesses develop and stick to a schedule. For some businesses, it could be less expensive to hire a firm to manage social media, Breman said.
Increasingly, success depends on the ability of businesses to communicate to one type of customer online and another type of customer face-to-face.
Said Stow: “Businesses have to be really good at talking to both.”