new_year_clipartWith the new year and decade spread out before us, I figured it was a great time to reflect on the months ahead as it pertains to marketing, both online and off,  for my own business as well as my clients who look to Samson Media for various marketing strategies.

2009 was a great year for exploring different Internet marketing and business building techniques, some which gained traction while others did not.  Here are a hand-full of tactics that are working well and others that still need some work.

WHAT’S WORKING (in no particular order)

LinkedIn:  We’ve found nothing allows you to start a conversation with peers and prospects better than LinkedIn.  Yes, Facebook may have more plugins, Widgets and doodads, but for business professionals and even job seekers, nothing matches the reach and exposure of LinkedIn.  And as the service continues to add more types of plugins for social media marketing tools such as RSS feed readers and Twitter feeds as well as the ability to upload videos and Powerpoint presentations, look for LinkedIn to become an increasingly important and EFFECTIVE part of any serious sales person’s or marketer’s tool box.

Blogs:  Recently usurped by the hype surrounding Twitter, blogging is still king of the Web 2.0 universe in our opinion.  Why?  Because in this Brave New World of consultative selling, nothing allows you to build credibility and gives you more bang for your online marketing buck than blogging.  With “time” as the new currency, regular blogging will return more of a return on your investment than almost any other type of online or offline marketing out there.  How?  How about increasing visability, generating more traffic to your website and positioning you as an authority in your field for starters.  A slam dunk no-brainer.

Search Engine Optimization:  Without proper SEO of your website your online presence is like a person on an inner tube bobbing in the the ocean.  At night.  We’ve continued to make positive impacts for our clients in strategizing realistic goals to help them achieve page one rankings on Google for certain keywords.  It’s not always easy to achieve but with the proper leg work and research we’re achieving some great results that are translating to positive impacts on ROI and the bottom line.

Email Marketing:  The good news according to an Epsilon research study is that open rates for email marketing campaigns in 2009 were actually up.  This confirms our long-held beliefs that a well thought out and strategic permission based email marketing campaign is still the best bang for your marketing buck.  Combine a targeted, permission-based email marketing strategy with blogging and/or a website with a clear call to action and you’ve got a one-two online marketing punch that really can’t be beat.

Networking & Referrals:  As much as we’re fans of online marketing techniques, we’ve found that nothing still beats the importance of face-to-face networking and pressing the flesh for meeting new prospects and raising our visability.  Add a record number of 10 speaking engagements and presentations to various chambers of commerce and trade show groups to the mix in 2009 and you’ve got a steady stream of incoming RFPs, meetings and project inquiries.  Combine that with referrals from satisfied clients and appearances at several key area trade shows and we found 2009 to be our best year ever giving us hope for an explosive 2010!

WORKS IN PROGRESS

Video Landing Pages:  While we still believe in the effectiveness of using video landing pages as a means of generating hyper targeted leads using pay per click to drive traffic to a specific offer, it seems many clients can not wrap their heads around coming up with a specific enough marketing campaign with a clear enough call to action.  This high-concept and larger budget marketing strategy is not for everyone so our job in 2010 will be to seek out those clients who can benefit most for it’s use and do a better job of illustrating it’s value.

Pay Per Call:  By using 800 numbers in pay per click ads, this highly cost effective method of combining pay per click advertising with good old fashion toll free phone numbers is designed for businesses who want to make the phone ring with incoming calls from targeted prospects.  What we felt was a low cost yet highly effective lead generating system has generated only minor interest and a luke warm response from our clients.  I think by repositioning this marketing method not as an alternative to print advertising but as a way to add trackability and accountability to everything from magazine ads to billboards and direct mail will make this a more viable marketing technique in the months ahead.  We’re not giving up on this one!

Twitter:  While we continue to ramp up our own Twitter efforts, the jury is still out in my opinion about whether or not small and medium sized companies have the where-with-all and, more importantly, time and internal staffing resources to mount a coherent and effective social media marketing strategy centered around Twitter.  It’s OK to dabble but our recomendation is to focus on blogging first and tweet later.

LOOKING AHEAD

As the technology and media landscape continues to change, we’ll keep exploring new methods of marketing (such as social bookmarking and aps for hand held devices) while continuing to deploy the methods that we know are effective (such as article syndication, press release campaigns and inbound linking strategies).  Combined with a cautiously optimistic view of the improving economy, we think 2010 is going to be a very exciting year for Samson Media and the clients we serve.  Happy New Year!