“What keeps you up at night in regards to your business?” During visits with readers, this is a question we, as trade magazine editors, always ask. Popular answers, as you can expect, include finding new customers, advertising services, customer service and growing the business. Marketing affects most, if not all, of these vital and common challenges.
And, to complicate matters, there are more ways than ever before — for a fee or gratis — to let the world (or just your local community) know that you are here to service all things water. While today’s marketing landscape might seem bound by no limits, there are obstacles to overcome and updates your company might consider.
Since the majority of customers, approximately 60 percent and growing, visit the website before visiting the actual store, online is a good place to start.
Building better sites
Whether you are looking to build a new website or redesign a current site, there are certain functions and options to be aware of while planning. First and foremost, it is important to keep customers’ needs in mind. What would they want to have access to on your site? Why would they visit your site? How does your site elevate the client’s relationship with your company?
The answers to those questions come down to how well you know your current customer base. Assess the target market and also consider your company’s mission and its vision. Then, examine the technologies available to you.
Last year, in an article titled, “Optimize your online presence,” we interviewed experts in the field of Web design and build. These professionals provided some guidelines to help keep your site relevant for its visitors.
Thomas Mirabella, president of Wingman Planning, a website design and development firm, stated, “When starting the planning process for your website…align your website with your marketing strategy and target audience. Keep your customers’ needs in mind.”
Mirabella continued by noting, “Just as important as the live site that potential customers see is the back end software that controls your site,” reminds Mirabella. “You want to be sure that your website is built with a user friendly administration panel that allows you to easily update your website.”
The large majority of U.S. adults (90 percent) currently own a cell phone, according to PewResearch Internet Project. Their research also found that 58 percent of U.S. adults have a smartphone and 42 percent own a tablet. How does this affect your marketing strategy?
Today, it is important to make sure your website and any other digital communication you have with the customer is optimized for mobile devices. Additionally, text and email communication in regards to sales, alerts or celebrations and social media flash sales and coupons are effective ways to reach customers and get referrals.
Tried-and-true traditional methods
Even the staunchest supporters of online marketing cannot devalue the effectiveness of some traditional means of marketing, including print, radio, direct mail, and phone calls to name a few.
“Water treatment businesses, in fact all businesses, should not put all of their marketing eggs in one basket,” informs Robert Kravitz, president of AlturaSolutions Communications, which is a public relations, communications and content marketing firm. “I have a client now that has invested very heavily in a content marketing program. Due to costs, they had to scale back on other marketing programs. While the content marketing program has proven beneficial because of the cutbacks in other marketing programs, their sales this year are up but not up as much as they had hoped considering the costs.”
As a result, Kravitz advises that businesses utilize a combination of print as well as building up the content on a company website as two of the best ways to help market products and services.
Seasonal marketing: Make it count
While formulating your marketing strategy be mindful of the calendar and send a well-timed message around a holiday, day of recognition, customers’ birthdays or significant events and seasons.
In December, for example, Dale Filhaber of DataMan Group noted the significance of the holiday season for water treatment marketing. In her blog, Pure Water Profits, found on www.WaterTechOnline.com, Filhaber offers a cure to the common December slowdown in cultivating new business. Her remedy: Aggressive marketing.
Filhaber wrote, “… December is a great month for business prospecting — especially in the B2B arena. On the homeowner side, this is the time to make your message stand out and your offer better than any other time of the year. Yes, you may be generating fewer appointments in December, but make them count!”
Filhaber writes a regular blog on our website that is filled with helpful marketing, advertising and customer service tips throughout the year. You can find her previous submissions at https://www.watertechonline.com/blogs.
Once you condition customers where to find you and how to get the best deals, such as being a social media follower or connection, maintaining a consistent presence should be the easy part. As mentioned in previous articles, focusing on search engine optimization (SEO) and building your content offering are newer ways to one-up the competition.
The Internet has changed how most consumers shop for water treatment products. How can dealers maximize their online marketing strategy?
“The best option, but not the only option, is to develop a content marketing program,” says Kravitz. “The goal is to become an expert in your field. End customers find your site, they read your content, which is designed to help them and not advertise you and your products, and a trust develops. This trust evolves into loyalty, which eventually evolves into sales.”
Similar to building your website, your marketing strategy for this year starts with understanding the customers. When trade magazine editors contact readers we want to know about their pressing issues and business challenges, which helps us develop our content offering plan. Let your customers dictate how often and where you market your services. While some strategies can be trial and error, others can be fact-based from the start.