There are several emerging trends that every small business should be aware of. This article shares these trends through examples of small businesses that have been the first to capitalize on web 2.0 and have reaped early benefits.
web 2.0, marketing trends, new media
Copyright 2006 John Jantsch
A new internet gold rush has been taking hold with the emergence of social networking, blogging, podcasting and other web 2.0 experiments. Media companies and Internet giants have reacted promptly by acquiring many of the new players to take advantage of these new advertising vehicles and evolve their endangered models. Yet advertisers themselves have stayed on the sidelines to a great extent. Small businesses especially have reacted cautiously to web 2.0 marketing fearing its hype and its inherent risks and represent a very small portion of the x million blogs.
It seems that there are several emerging trends that every small business should be aware of. We thought we would share these trends through examples of small businesses that have been the first to capitalize on web 2.0 and have reaped early benefits.
Trend #1: Establish a blog as your primary web presence. Customers value who they do business with sometimes as much as what they buy. Blogging provides you with a more personal environment where you can both promote your product and present a more personal view of your business. Blogging also allows you to initiate an on-going conversation with your customers and build a long term relationship. Blogging is especially important in professional services small businesses where the person is the product and where word of mouth and recommendations are the primary sales driver.
Horsefeathers, a restaurant in North Conway, N. H., publishes a blog about food, wine, local events and restaurant news as a way to keep customers connected and loyal (http://www.horsefeathers.com/ ).
Patti Thompson is the president of Way-Fil Jewelry, Inc. located in Tupelo, MS. She serves as the appraiser, designer and one of two bench jewelers.(http://www.diamonddivaonline.com/ ). She writes a combination of personal stories, stories about her store and appraisal posts (What is gold sodium thiomalate?). She also links her blog to her EBay store.
Trend #2: Take advantage of emerging hyper local blogs. With the number of blogs exploding (a blog is created every second!) and readership skyrocketing, the blogosphere is reaching a sufficient scale to address hyper local content. A similar phenomenon happened in the internet space when readership and websites reached a tipping point to be able to offer relevant content for very small customer segments such as a city and provide local search. This new trend in blogging makes local advertising for small businesses very relevant, for example restaurants, hotels, real estate brokers or accountants.
Cornerstone Wealth Advisors (http://www.cornerstone360.com) in Overland Park, KS created a blog about investing and other financial matters and use it as the jumping off point for several practice groups.
Blogging Ohio (http://www.bloggingohio.com/ ), which is part of Weblogs (http://www.weblogsinc.com/ ), is a great example of this trend with posts that focus on specific towns in Ohio. Lake County, OH (http://www.lakecountyblog.com/default.asp?item=158547 ) has also started a local community blog and local sponsored links such as local restaurants, hotels or country clubs.
Trend #3: Use web 2.0 marketing to market to bloggers. Bloggers have become a growing and influential customer segment with strong economic power. As this customer segment reaches critical mass, some small businesses have understood the opportunity to target them and build marketing approaches that appeal to their tastes and preferences.
Bloggersfuel is a great example of this focused marketing (http://www.bloggersfuel.com/blog/?page_id=2 ). Bruce Frcek has developed this blog to keep bloggers up to date on what is happening in the specialty coffee industry and with its online store Boca Java (www.bocajava.com) and to hear directly from bloggers on ideas about blogging and coffee.
Daily Greencine (http://daily.greencine.com/ ) publishes a blog around independent and alternative cinema that gets 80 000 visitors each month and helps drive traffic to online rental and video on demand store GreenCine (www.greencine.com). The blog helped double the store?s revenues.
Trend #4: Leverage emerging web 2.0 advertising platforms. Web 2.0 start ups are positioning themselves as aggregators of advertising and providing new platforms to market small businesses.
AdCandy (http://www.adcandy.com/default.asp ) allows consumers to develop advertising slogans and suggest product improvements for their favorite brands. Pro?tech?d (http://www.protechd.com/company/ ), a small company making iPod covers uses AdCandy to run a contest letting visitors create their ad campaign and slogan, thus helping raise awareness for its brand in its target customer segment.
Zixxo (http://www.zixxo.com/cmn/Homepage.aspx ) allows small businesses to create and manage their own online coupons and syndicate them out to local consumers through partner websites and RSS feeds. John ? example of coffee shop
Trend #5: explore emerging audio and video marketing (podcasting and vloging). The recent massive growth in these new formats triggered by the Apple IPOD and by new start ups such as You Tube will develop new advertising media that can be particularly appropriate for specific small businesses.
Chaz, a yoga instructor (http://yogamazing.com/ ), has a yoga studio in Louisville, KY and has been using podcasting on itunes for a series of instructional videos that promote his yoga techniques and his studio.
Dave Seitter, (http://seminar.midwestconstructionlaw.com) a construction attorney located in Kansas City, Mo has created a monthly expert teleseminar and converted it to a podcast.