When it comes to internet marketing, not all businesses are created equally. An internet marketing strategy that works for one business, will likely not work for another. Unfortunately, most businesses aren’t able to think outside of the box when it comes an internet marketing strategy. They’ll assume that if the competition is doing one thing, they need to do the same in order to keep up.
This past weekend, CBS Sunday Morning, did a segment on the growth of street food vendors in Los Angeles. Many of these vendors operate out of a truck and sell mostly tacos or burritos. Street food vendors park their trucks (or carts) at different locations for only an hour or so at a time because many times they are prohibited from parking longer than this at each location.
Now I know what you’re asking at this point. You probably wondering what street vendors have to do with internet marketing?. Well, let’s look into their challenges a bit more to find out.
Let’s assume that you operate a business that is dependent on walk-up traffic, and your business is required (by city law) to change locations every hour or so. How would you generate enough walk-up business to support yourself? Well, historically, the best way do this would be to make sure that you are parked in an area where there are lots of customers that can generate sales for you in a very short period of time.
The challenge with this approach is that from a marketing perspective, a local business that needs to constantly change locations is going to be a challenge to promote. After all, you can’t advertise your address because it’s always changing. It’s also going to be difficult to capture a loyal customer base because they won’t always be able to find you in the same place at the same time. Lastly, you’re always going to bump into competition at the busiest locations.
So how would you promote this type of business in today’s online world? Well, thanks to Twitter we have our answer. In fact Twitter is responsible for creating a boom for street food vendors. Enter a truck food vendor by the name of Kogi. Kogi began business back in November of 2008 and has become a Twitter phenom (NPR Article).
There were several things that Kogi did differently that made them the business success that they are. One was to create branding around their truck with a logo, a clean look AND most importantly, a memorable company name. Next, and more importantly, they started announcing their truck locations and specials via Twitter. Now they were in a position to create a customer base that could find them wherever they were.
Needlesstosay, business is booming for Kogi and now several other street food vendors are following this example. Just check out this list (from 2009) of street food vendors around the country with their Twitter user names. It almost seems as if Twitter were made for this purpose. In retrospect though, this is a classic example of a business that decided NOT to run with the herd, and instead do something completely out-of-the box when it comes to internet marketing.
There is a lot of discussion taking place in terms of what methods consumers use in order to find products and services online. In fact there are so many different viewpoints it’s become more difficult for businesses or organizations to decide upon which direction to go next in their online marketing efforts.
Today I came across a rather interesting article/survey from The Nielsen Company (“Social Media: The Next Great Gateway for Content Discovery?“) which discusses the approaches that consumers are currently using to find information online. Basically it highlights much of what we’ve talked about in our blog about Online Consumer Behavior and how consumers find information based on their habits and behaviors when it comes to doing online research.
This survey shows that over 71% of online users look for information by using either a search engine (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.), or by browsing via a portal like Yahoo, AOL, MSN, etc. Currently only 4% use a Social Network like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc., to get more information.
The interesting aspect of this survey is that it highlights the fact that many people feel overwhelmed by the amount of information they see online, so much so that they many turn to their online friends for suggestions and information. This survey asked three groups of people for feedback on the following statement, “There is too much information Online”. 26% of people who identified themselves as “Socializers” found this statement to be true. Only 5% of people identified as “Searchers” found this to be true.
This begs the question that – as an online business/organization – do you know which approach your customers / clients use in order to find information about your products or services online? Are they using a Social Network to ask friends, or are they finding you and your products via Search or a Portal? The answer to this question should have a direct impact on where you focus your online marketing energies.
When you create an online marketing strategy, one of the first steps you should take is research in order to understand the online behavior and habits of your clients/customers. Once you’ve done this, you’ll be in a much better position to reach out to your future customers and clients via the most appropriate online marketing channel or channels.