Oh where, oh where have the corporate bumper stickers gone?
It used to be that in the good old days of marketing, not so very long ago, businesses could simply go to any trade show and hand out bumper stickers with their name and corporate logo on them, and that would be about it for any outbound marketing effort. Add on some type of contest like the radio stations did, and you were really going above and beyond.
But look around these days and you don’t see anything near the proliferation of bumper stickers that there used to be.
Oh sure, you can still find witty and religious sayings, magnetic ribbons for various diseases, words of support for politicians and sports teams, “my child is an honor student” and those omnipresent stick figure families.
But when was the last time you saw a bumper sticker with the name of a local business on it? If you have seen one, odds are that it was probably on an older vehicle and had a purpose of helping to keep the bumper on the car!
Well, times have changed, bumpers have changed and the marketer’s idea of only using bumper stickers to attract prospects and customers will have to change, too.
Those once-plentiful signs of company pride used to be a popular form of traditional — or push — marketing. The objective was to push information, the company’s name or branding statements out to consumers, and they would be more inclined to frequent your business.
Now it’s a much more in-depth and delicate wooing process for companies to capture the attention of prospects and win their consumer hearts. It demands the strategic use of Internet marketing.
The good news is that businesses of every size can utilize Internet marketing. The bad news is that businesses of every size have to utilize Internet marketing, or they will simply lose out to their much more aggressive and Internet-savvy competitors.
This form of marketing is known as pull marketing. It’s a little similar to fishing, where you put something of interest out there to attract some attention, and let it slowly lure in a prospect. The differences here are that you have to use lots of lures and you sometimes have to gain the fish’s permission to participate in the process.
The Move to Social Media and Online Marketing
One similarity between bumper stickers and pull marketing is that you have a very short period of time to garner some attention. Just like passing another car and noticing what the slogan is, your online communications have to be sharp, focused and consistent.
Get to the top of the search engine rankings or nobody can find you, have a succinct Facebook message or it’s gone in 60 seconds as new posts appear, catch attention in six seconds with a blog title or your prospect moves on. It’s a fast and furious world, and you’ve got to be on the top of your game.
Here are just some of the amazing statistics about the opportunity represented by social media and online marketing:
» Social media is huge and it’s still growing: In January, ClickZ highlighted a report from eMarketer that found that social media will have 5.4 million more users by 2016, on top of the 180 million Americans who already rely on it for social interaction and information.
The top five social media outlets are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr. If your business doesn’t have a presence on these five as a minimum, you could be missing out on customers, regardless of your target age group.
Amazingly enough, there will be 4.9 million social network users younger than 12 and 21.1 million teenagers engrossed in social media. Older Millennials are the most active social networkers, and even 17.1 million 55-64 year olds frequent Facebook.
No matter who you need to communicate to in order to present your features and benefits, you had better include social media if you plan to accomplish that goal.
» Young adults are watching less TV: According to Nielsen’s 2014 fourth-quarter analysis of television viewing habits, young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 are actually watching less television.
If this is your target group, it’s going to be harder and harder to find them without incorporating an Internet element to your marketing strategy.
The primary reason for their decreased interest in traditional television is their increased interest in digital devices. They are surfing the web, using social media, and Googling answers to every question that comes up in conversation. They use their mobile devices and smartphones extensively and, if they want information on a product or company, they want it now. If it’s not easily available, they are more than willing to move on.
» Social media is the new “back fence”: If people wanted to communicate with their neighbors just a few years ago, they could simply walk to the back fence and exchange information. They might ask about local businesses, relate good and bad experiences, or even provide a referral.
Now all of that is accomplished online through social media networks, bloggers and influencers. Consumers are now in the habit of searching online for answers and information first before making decisions from where to eat to where to have surgery.
In fact, Power Reviews found that 86 percent of consumers say reviews are an essential resource when making purchasing decisions. They trust peer recommendations more than they trust advertising and, if they do have a question or concern for a business, they want to be able to get a response quickly.
Does it seem like too much effort to learn about the new “pull” marketing? The return on investment for the time and energy needed is that you get to stay in business and keep attracting customers. Not such a bad return.
So, are bumper stickers totally useless now? Well, not exactly. But I’d recommend adding your web site with a call to action and a coupon code.
— Taylor Reaume is an e-Business coach and founder of Search Engine Pros. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 1.800.605.4988. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.