We talk a lot about effective and inexpensive ways of marketing our businesses, and creating that elusive “word of mouth” message that can magically take our product or service to a wider audience. For years small businesses relied on loosely defining a target market, many times with not really knowing who the true target was to begin with.
Today’s consumers are more sophisticated in both the way they selectively get their buying information, and with the products they look to purchase. In the course of a day we receive exponentially more advertising offers than we did even five years ago. By default we also become more hip to offers that in the past we would have listened to. This weariness of traditional advertising efforts make people talk more and look to others they trust (more than lame ad offers) for cues to what to buy.
While the traditional model of using advertising that reaches a targeted demographic, the internet provides the opportunity to build a “community” of like minded people who find out about the niche your company fulfills and spread the word to others.
This shift to a more permission based marketing model includes many online techniques and features that for the most part involve very little monetary investment. This doesn’t mean that your business should not have a strong foundation of the traditional advertising means (that requires a traditional advertising budget). It does mean that a combination of the old and the new should be used to track your customers, know their motivations, and make a sustainable effort to “keep them in the fold”.