How Marketing Is Like A Game
Everyone likes to buy but no one likes to be sold to and the best marketers know this and use it to their advantage. Here is how it’s like a game.
Selling to someone when they’re standing in front of you is often easier than trying to do it through a marketing piece.
The reason it is often easier is that the sales person (if they are good) will ask a series of questions of the prospective customer to try to determine how the product or service is going to be used.
This is very much like the game of 20 questions because the questions that the sales person asks will help them determine the mindset of the consumer and whether or not they are even looking at the product or service that will solve the problem that they have.
Example: An inexperienced car salesman that sees a family walk on to the car lot may assume that they are looking for a family vehicle when the reality could be that they are looking for a vehicle that will serve an entirely different function. (I.e. work truck or commuter vehicle)
The game of 20 questions is also used so the sales person can weave a story that will help the consumer visualize themselves using the product or service.
If the prospective buyer can visualize themselves using your product or service and they see the value in it, they will find a way to justify the cost so that they can make the purchase. You will not have to sell them because they will sell themselves.
Direct Response Marketing
Whether you are sending your message through the mail or by email, you need to know your customer or prospect well enough to have some idea of how to target your message.
The more knowledge you have about your potential customer the better you’ll be able to communicate with your target audience using terminology that they use with friends. If your message has the right language, the right message in it is time to meet the needs of your ideal customer when they need it most, your conversion rates will increase.
You can have the greatest solution to their problem but if you cannot clearly communicate why your solution is best for their situation and the timing of your offer is wrong the chances of you making the sale are dramatically lower than that of a competitor that has better information about who they are, what they need and when they need it.
If you use a website, social media, search engine optimization, pay per click or any other method to get attention for your product or service online, you have multiple sets of rules that you will have to comply with to safely get your message across and to avoid problems from the FTC. (The vast majority of small and medium-size businesses that have a web presence do not have all of the legal policies in place that are necessary to keep them in compliance with FTC guidelines.)
Unfortunately, there are marketers in almost every niche that are marketing online strictly to make a quick buck instead of building a long-term business.
These quick buck artists create tools and use tactics that are designed to game the system so that they can get the most attention on their marketing platform of choice.
Facebook, Google, Bing, Yahoo and other venues that can be used to connect with your customers and prospects are constantly changing the rules that you must comply with to use their services because of these quick buck artists.
Between the changing rules and the quick buck marketers, you must go beyond the basics to get your message across. This is especially important when it comes to search engine optimization.
Search Engine Optimization For Marketing
The basics of SEO teaches us that you need to have:
- good content that includes images and videos with audio files as a plus
- good on page optimization
- good off page optimization techniques (backlinks)
- social signals (social bookmarks, comments on site, comments on your videos, Facebook likes, etc.)
Unfortunately for novice and honest business owners, the quick buck and unethical search engine marketers are making it much harder to rank your website’s pages on the first page of Google (which gets two thirds of the online searches) using 100% ethical techniques unless you have a lot of time and money that you are willing to spend.
Black hat techniques are not needed or recommended but if you want traffic from search you will need to use a few techniques that stray into the gray hat area.
Good business people do not use gray hat techniques because they want to use them. They use these techniques because it’s necessary to play the search engine marketing game well enough to get their message noticed by their target audience. (Page 1 of Google.)
Not everyone will agree that you have to use these gray hat techniques and if you are dealing strictly on the local level you may be able to get away without using them provided your niche isn’t that competitive.
If you are a DIYer, please be aware that many of the techniques that are currently being taught for free or through low cost products or courses sold by Internet marketers are teaching techniques that are usually outdated and can do you more harm than good. (Some of the courses I’ve seen on the market recently are teaching techniques that were made ineffective or dangerous to use by changes to the Google algorithm in the last three months to two years.)
The Google algorithm is updated 500 to 600 times per year. Some of these changes are minor but some of them are major. Regardless of whether it’s major or minor, if your website gets affected, it’s major to you.
Google will tell you what they are looking for if you go to Google Webmaster Tools. Unfortunately, this document is constantly changing and it isn’t always an easy read.
Social Media Marketing
Facebook, Twitter et al are often great platforms to use to engage your customers and prospects but you must be willing to spend at least one hour per day for each social media platform you intend to use and you need to be aware of their constantly changing terms and platforms.
Additionally, since you do not own the platform that you are using the build your business, it could be taken away from you tomorrow or the rule changes could render it worthless for your business and there is nothing you could do about it.
Like the search engines, these platforms make the majority of their money through advertising.
Because of this, a lot of the rule changes will be geared at reducing the effectiveness of your organic efforts so that you will be more inclined to use their paid advertising to reach your audience.
It’s important to know that the quick buck Internet marketers have also invaded these platforms to exploit them as much as possible and their efforts are also part of the reason social media platforms are constantly changing the rules of the game.
The bottom line is that you need to go into the online marketing business knowing that you will be playing a marketing game that is constantly changing at a fast pace but it’s one that’s important to your business because that’s where the majority of your customers go for information before they make a buying decision.
Build your online brand and reputation while you remain ethical in your efforts (using gray hat techniques only when necessary, does not make you unethical).
Outdated shortcuts and quick hit tactics may work for a little while but they could come back and hurt you long-term.
A solid marketing strategy with a reasonable budget is necessary both online and off-line. Only stray into the light gray hat marketing areas when it’s absolutely necessary to achieve your goals.
(Note: One of the purest gray hat strategies that Internet marketers often use can cost several thousand dollars and take many months to implement.)
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