The reading level for this article is All Levels
I was reading through a business plan the other day. It was sent to us from a budding entrepreneur in the UK. He was looking for some tips and guidance on the market opportunity and âœfund-abilityâ of his plan. In the business plan, he referred to the online marketplace as âœThe Digital Eco-Systemâ.
The online marketplaceâ¦an eco-system? I asked myself.
I thought about that term a bit moreâ¦and then it dawned on me.
This cat is absolutely right.
The new realm of marketing is less about what I have to say about myself and my business and has much more to do with what OTHERS have to say about me and my business. (Please let that soak in if thatâ™s the first time youâ™ve been introduced to this concept).
Think about itâ¦
It used to be that I could write long-copy sales letters, buy in-your-face yellow page ads, promise great service, make structure and function claims about my product/service, create attractive ads and so on.
It didnâ™t really matter if the product/service was effective or not. If you were a savvy marketer and networker, youâ™d make money.
But today, the game has changed. I canâ™t think of the last thing I bought where I didnâ™t first check with google, yahoo, facebook and a few hundred past customers (reviews).
How about you?
So there IS a digital eco-system that I must rely on in order to attract, convert and retain customers. Consumers like you and me are bypassing the traditional advertising and relying on the bigger eco-system of feedback to help us decide who wins and who doesnâ™t.
WHAT IS THE NEW DIGITAL ECO-SYSTEM?
The New Digital Eco-System is the rapidly expanding online environment made up of search engines, social media, peer advocacy and customer reviews. It is a living, breathing entity in and of itself and it grows more sophisticated and detailed every day. It is an environment in which businesses will either thrive, stagnate or meet their ultimate demise.
SO WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR SMALL BUSINESS?
Well, as recently as a couple of years ago, you could be a small business owner and do just fine without actively participating in this Digital Eco-System. You could simply say âœWeâ™re not playing that game. Thatâ™s a game for techies and young people.â
All you had to do was pay a graphic designer to build a brochure-type website with the typical âœwho we are, what we do, how to reach usâ model. And Voila! You were done.
Then you simply added your website URL to your business cards, yellow page ads, coupon mailers and other advertising. Amazingly enough, the phone rang.
COOL, that worked!
But an alarming trend has begun over the past 18 months or so and it is yet to reach itâ™s full crescendo.
The phone isnâ™t ringing as much as it used to. The advertising still costs just as much. Youâ™re still attending all the same networking events. Youâ™re executing your 2008-09 marketing plan to a âœTâ.
But the marketing plan is not working as well as it used to.
WELCOME TO THE NEW DIGITAL ECO-SYSTEM WHERE YOU MUST ENGAGE AND ACTIVELY WORK THE SYSTEM TO THRIVE IN IT.
As a small business owner you must understand that the rules of marketing have changedâ¦forever.Yellow page ads are being replaced with online search (think about the last time you picked up a yellow book to find something vs. the last time you did a google or yahoo local search).Old-school networking and referral generation has been replaced by social media and peer advocacy.Companies still selling âœgreat serviceâ are being trounced by competitors who have focused on building page rank, fans, followers and customer ratings.Relationship building has been replaced by reputation management.Prospect and lead generation is being replaced by âœtribeâ building.
SO HOW IS YOUR SMALL BUSINESS DOING WITH THE TRANSITION?
This is a wake up call to small business to do what needs to be done to thrive in this new digital eco-system.
Here are the 7 keys I have found that transform small businesses from the âœold schoolâ marketing ways to the Next Generation edition.
1. Dominate online search in your category (yes it is possible â" get started now).
2. Maximize social media â" Use an expert. (Donâ™t think that setting up a twitter account and facebook page gets the job done).
This Entrepreneurship article was written by Joe Abraham on 1/26/2010
Joe is a serial entrepreneur who has been involved as a founder, executive or advisor in the startup and growth of over 20 companies in industries ranging from IT and healthcare to sales training and motorsports. Learn more at Joe Abraham.com