The transition occurring today in the marketplace from an outbound, old media marketing strategy to an inbound, new media approach presents an interesting, challenging, and even profitable environment for business owners willing to incorporate and even embrace current transition. The shift from old to new, outbound, even intrusive marketing to an inbound, customer/client driven methodology appears to be profound and lasting. The current economic trend is challenging, and that’s putting it mildly. Yet even the most experienced entrepreneurs and Internet marketing specialists are grappling with the right strategy, the right combination of tools, necessary to survive this downturn. In order to survive, businesses must adapt, rethink, and redesign their current approach to advertising and marketing. As a result of our current economic challenges, businesses are finding it increasingly important, imperative, to develop and strengthen relationships, not only with prospective customers, but with their established customer base as well. Engaging in a relationship building strategy with customers they have already done business with at some point in the past is one of the most effective methods for improving a business’s overall profitability, while decreasing advertising costs. It is the established customer/client base, combined with a successful relationship building campaign that includes a number of tools and marketing platforms, that will ultimately lead to not only survival in the current economy but prosperity…in spite of it!
The emergence of the weblog (web log) or blog, blogging in today’s parlance, revolutionized the way individuals communicate on the Internet. Significantly, what was once considered to be solely a social communication vehicle, almost a means to “gossip” on the web, quickly became the darling of the Internet for individuals and businesses alike. Today, everyone from the neighborhood grandmother talking about her most recent trip back east to see the grandchildren, to The Ford Motor Company and Skittles are blogging and the reasons are myriad. Blogging allows a connection between participants unlike anything I have witnessed in marketing to date.
In my 54 years I have weathered several recessions, a number of presidents, including a resignation and an assassination, and a couple of attempted ones, the Bobby Riggs and Billy Jean King marketing masterpiece, the “New Coke” marketing debacle, the ultimate political spin of the Clinton Presidency, and the annual marketing bonanza also known as the Super Bowl. However, I have never witnessed anything like the emergence of the “blogosphere.”
The blogosphere? Well, if we use Technorati’s definition “The blogosphere is the collective community of all blogs.” How many? As of Technorati’s August 2008 report on the state of the blogosphere there were 133 million blogs indexed by Technorati since 2002, with 1.5 million per week being added per week since then. Surely Technorati’s numbers have changed vastly in the last year but the fact is no one really knows how many blogs exist. There is however one undeniable fact, the blog is here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future.
The face of the average blogger is a difficult one to perceive. The numbers grow and the demographics shift but the average blogger is male, over 25 years old, 50% of all bloggers are over 35 years of age, married, college educated, with an average yearly income of over $50,000, and 48% live in North America. Four out of every five people blogging, known as bloggers, identify themselves as personal bloggers. Interestingly, there is a great amount of overlap between bloggers, professional, corporate, and personal, with many designating themselves as two out of the three or all three. Almost half of all bloggers noted that they have had or continue to have multiple blogs, 60% of all bloggers having two or more years of blogging experience, with the average tenure being three years. Female bloggers make up 34% of active bloggers, males make up 73% of all bloggers in Asia, and the youngest blogging population seems to be in Europe, with half of all respondents being between the age of 18 and 34 years of age.
With the emergence of social media, and the realization of the power social media marketing offers, including the mini-blog phenomena Twitter and facebook, the blog has maintained its pivotal role as the “hub spot” from which an increasing numbers of companies, from the mom and pop corner store to Fortune 100 corporations, are building inbound, Internet marketing campaigns. The blog offers the ideal platform for relationship building. Connecting with prospective clients, as well the current customer/client base in a way no other medium offers, the combination of the blog and various Web 2.0 platforms is both organic and dynamic. Blogging is a crucial component in any “new media,” inbound marketing strategy. Added to the blogging hub, the social media or Web 2.0 campaign offers an innovative and forward thinking approach to prospective customer and established customer relationship building never before offered in this way by a marketing strategy.
So, what happened to the website? Internet marketing has experienced a transition, a revolution of sorts, from the traditional website to the fresh and organic approach of the blog. The blog should be an integral part of any online marketing strategy. Blogging not only provides useful content for a business’s target audience, it also builds relationships and strengthens the connection between current customers and businesses engaged in this useful marketing strategy. The business blog has virtually, and literally, replaced the conventional website as many company’s primary customer/client communication vehicle, and rightly so. The combination of other media, along with the blog, as in the case of social media marketing mentioned above, offers an inbound marketing strategy, cost-effective and profitable, short and long-term.
The question every business owner today must ask: “How do I develop a marketing strategy that will allow me weather the current economic storm?” The fact is many of the traditional marketing strategies, also referred to as outbound or old media advertising strategies have been replaced by inbound, new media marketing methods, with impressive and lasting results. The cost of new media marketing is substantially less than most traditional, outbound methods engaged in by traditional brick and mortar businesses today (e.g., television, radio, newspaper, etc.). Given the current economic climate, this certainly seems counter-intuitive. During a time when businesses large and small are struggling to stay afloat, it would seem prudent to engage in any strategy that promises to increase traffic while decreasing the cost of doing business. Additionally, the reduction in the cost of doing business associated with an inbound, new media marketing strategy is generally accompanied by an increase in revenue and an improved and strengthened customer/business connection. The benefits of the new media, inbound strategy are derived solely due to the blog as the central component, the linchpin or hub, driving the entire program and making the entire business more profitable and even prosperous, regardless of the current economy…or perhaps because of it.