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Farming Your Web Market

You’re going to get your hands dirty
A good farmer scoops up the soil in their hand and smells the earth, perhaps even taste the earth. The thing is that as a farmer you will be getting intimate with your market.

If the crop you plan to raise is made up of web users then your web page is the soil that they will grow strong on. The nutrients you add to your web page have a fragrance, maybe even a certain taste. And the richest addition you can add to your web page is your own personality.

Now, don’t get fearful
Perhaps professional marketers have told you not to get personal with your marketing, but that type of aggressive marketing is not what we are talking about here. To cultivate your market you need to talk to them in ways that nurture, and this means that you care enough to be yourself.

If you wanted to get to know someone based on a feeling of attraction would you analyze how to do this? If you overheard a conversation and the opinions expressed attracted you would you choose to get demographics and contact information before you introduce yourself?

The whole purpose of cultivating a market lends itself to casual and intimate conversations. And ‘intimate’ does not mean private and secretive, it means:

  1. Marked by close acquaintance, association, or familiarity
  2. Relating to or indicative of one’s deepest nature

Most web marketing is done at arm’s length because the marketing people are not clear on the market being targeted. And the word ‘targeted’ is rather cold and disconnected emotionally. Targeting is an odd way to build relationships, but building relationships is exactly what we want to do.

Cultivating the market
The bigger portion of our market that we wish to cultivate is at earlier stages of the buying cycle and we are able to help them and build a relationship in the process. In this way we cultivate a much bigger market than trying to capture the smaller numbers that are ready to purchase.

Those members of our market that are ready to purchase have already been influenced. We cannot reach many of them now. On the other hand, the greater numbers that are early in their search can be cultivated, influenced and helped to make a smart choice and buy from us.

We need to design a web site that will allow us to be helpful and generous in sharing our information. Far too many small business web owners do not know what to share with their market. We are going to be different.

What do we feed our market?
We want our undecided market to choose our solution as their purchase. To do that we need to help them along, and this is where our web design comes into play.

Our page is jammed full of really good information but it doesn’t show everything at once. And then there are other pages doing the same thing. We are using HTML which stands for Hyper Text Markup Language. It is the hyper text that allows us to provide a selection and then deliver a choice.

We are no longer using limited space on paper, nor are we using limited time on TV. Web marketing needs to use HTML in its marketing to get the most out of the medium and yet the HTML in contemporary business designs is relegated to basic navigation and placeholders for content. Instead, we need to put HTML into our marketing methods and provide choices for all members of our market.

Talking all the way through
We will spend time talking to that portion of our market that doesn’t even recognize yet that they have a problem. We are going to help educate them so that they do recognize that their life could be better with our solutions.

We will spend time talking with those that are researching possible solutions and we will help them see all of their possibilities from all sides. We’ll look at the upside and the downside of various features. We’ll bring these people along our path of understanding so that they are ready to look at comparisons.

We will not be afraid to compare our solution with others available on the market. We want to nurture this stage of the buying cycle fearlessly and give them all of the choices available while building a relationship they can trust. We want to keep this stage engaged or they will leave our site looking for comparable products and solutions.

If we don’t feed them right now and right here their next stage of development is to make a decision to purchase and we could lose them at a crucial moment in the cycle.

Farmer or hunter
A hunter fears that the prey will get away. They target and shoot early when they can and short term goals are everything to a hunter. On the other hand a farmer has long term goals and works with the seasons. Six months can go by from planting to harvesting and a farmer knows that nurturing cannot be superficial or provided with impatience.

Our harvest will arrive and it will be our own if we provide the helpful nutrients. Spending time to create the best content is essential and the easiest way for our market to find the right content on our site is also essential. But it can all be for naught if we choke up at the end and impatiently push for the sale.

We need to honor our market and validate their choice even when the choice goes to our competitor. Most choices will come our way because we nurtured that market along and we have build up a relationship. All the rest will take care of itself. It does so because everything about the marketing process is as natural as sunlight and rain.

Pull Marketing
And when we market naturally we are attracting the best interest from search engines. We are providing volumes of our unique and original information that search engines and our market are attracted to. We are sharing information that creates growth while building relationships with our market. We are cultivating our market by solving problems and providing insight for our market. And the bulk of our information is work that does not have to be repeated over and over.

Our web pages may need some tweaking from time to time but our main effort is going to last for a long time to come. And perhaps one of the most valuable assets we develop with pull marketing is that nothing we ever do is lost. All of our marketing stays in place for years and as we build we grow stronger and stronger.

Unlike push marketing that requires constant feeding of cash for advertising, our pull marketing is more like putting money in the bank and building our reserves instead of spending them.

Farming our web market is a very different concept from that of an opportunist feeding off of the market. By farming we control our own market and build a richer relationship rather than rely on just the good seasons or good years to get us through.

How to Write Marketing Communications Plans

Marketing Communications are “all strategies, tactics, and activities involved in getting the desired marketing messages to intended target markets, regardless of the media used” (MarcommWise, 2006). Tony Yeshin (1999) defines marketing communications as “the process by which a marketer develops and presents stimuli to a defined target audience with a purpose of eliciting a desired set of responses” (Yeshin, 1999). Marketing communications are: adverting, sales promotions, personal selling, PR and direct and interactive marketing (Fill, 1999).
Consequently Marketing Communications Plan is the marketing plan which promotional plan incorporates two or more integrated marketing communications mediums aiming to reiterate the same goals and objectives. Marketing Communications Plans are considered by many professionals as an excellent way to effectively communicate with target audience.
Marketing Communications Plans are generally based on two different frameworks: Marketing Communications Planning Framework and SOSTAC (Fill, 1999).

Marketing Communications Plans consist of the following vital elements:

Context analysis

Promotional objectives

Marketing communications strategy

Promotional mix (methods and tools)

Budget schedule

Evaluation and control (Fill, 1999).

When writing marketing communications plan it is important to:

1. Set corporate, marketing and marketing communications objectives, which would support and integrate with each other.

2. Develop segmentation, targeting and positioning strategies

3. Develop creative message with which Marketing Communications Plan with communicate with target audience

4. Select and justify one or combination of marketing strategies (push, pull or profile)

5. Develop well-rounded and creative set of promotional mediums and allocate appropriate budget for each medium.

6. Create contingency planning strategy (in case something goes wrong)

7. Set strict set of evaluation and control mediums which would include milestones and continuous evaluation

References

Fill C (1999) Marketing Communications, 2nd Edition, Prentice Hall Europe
Yeshin T, (1999) Integrated Marketing Communications, The chartered institute of marketing, Butterworth Heinemann, Oxford
http://www.marcommwise.com/glossary.phtml?a=m&s=0

Please find below links to excellent Marketing Communications Plans:

C/M/315. INTEGRATED MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS PLAN FOR ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISES LTD

S/M/162. Marketing communication plan: Philips SatinIce UK, and current marketing communications strategy analysis

S/M/158. Marketing Communication Plan for British Airways

S/M/158. Marketing Communication Plan for British Airways

E/M/14. Marketing Communications Plan for Pizza Hut

C/M/180. Internet music search engine Promotion Campaign

C/M/171. Analysis of the 50+ customer group for M&S and brief outline of a promotional campaign

P/M/311. Marketing communication Plan for Direct Lines the breakdown service

S/M/77. Project Management for Marketing Communications Campaign

P/M/289. Marketing Communications Plan for ROYAL DUTCH/ SHELL

S/M/69. Marketing Communications Plan for British Airways (BA)

P/M/269. Marketing Communications Plan for Shell

P/M/262. Marketing Communications Plan for North West Valley Sailing Club

C/M/117. Marketing Communications Plan for Hugo Boss

P/M/252. Marketing Communications Plan for the Introduction of New Product: Smoothie

P/M/139. Marketing Communications Plan for Haagen-Dazs

P/M/130. Marketing Communications Plan for the new degree programme

P/M/133. Marketing Communications Plan for Marks and Spencer

P/M/134. Analysis and development of Marketing Communications Plan for Adidas (US)

http://www.coursework4you.co.uk/sprtmrk28.htm

Insurance Agency Web Marketing Plans

As insurance agencies create their marketing plans for the upcoming year, many will focus on insurance agency web marketing as a key marketing driver to generate insurance agency leads. Web marketing is not merely a trend; it is a new way of doing business, and one which agencies cannot ignore. The days of agency growth from a purely referral driven perspective are gone, as more and more communication becomes virtual in nature, as networking moves from handshaking to internet surfing, and younger buyers embrace digital communication over face to face meetings.

Yet what does web marketing mean these days? According to Wikipedia, web marketing “refers to the placement of media along many different stages of the customer engagement cycle through search engine marketing (SEM), search engine optimization (SEO), banner ads on specific websites, e-mail marketing, and Web 2.0 strategies.” This serves as a reasonable definition for our discussion, as we answer important questions relating to insurance agency web marketing: Let’s begin by identifying the key components of an insurance agency web marketing plan:

  • Agency Web Seminar Marketing
  • Blogging and Vlogging
  • Insurance Agency Website Design
  • Insurance eMarketing Campaigns
  • Insurance Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
  • Insurance SEO (Insurance Agency Search Engine Optimization)
  • Pay Per Click (Google PPC, LinkedIn PPC, etc.)
  • Social Media Marketing (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, StumbleUpon)
  • Insurance Agency Telemarketing (augments web marketing)

Arguably, insurance agency web marketing always begins with a comprehensive insurance website redesign, unless the agency website was recently completed and is up to date. An insurance agency website must be graphically attractive, it should have current and compelling content, a blog (and vlog if possible), and industry news to mention a few important elements. Video is becoming increasingly more important as it provides a medium for the quick conveyance of information in a compelling and personal manner. Website video can also be leveraged on YouTube to further increase insurance agency internet presence. Vlogs, which are video blogs, can be very helpful to a website. Vlogs can be a talking head video, recorded PowerPoint presentation or even voice over photographs. They integrate the contextual power of a blog with the enhanced impact of a video or PowerPoint.

Content is king on the internet, and insurance agents should take great care in the creation of their website content. A graphically attractive website, short on content, will result in a sub-optimized insurance search engine marketing result, adversely impacting insurance agency SEO efforts and mitigating website stickiness and efficacy. These days, a key aspect of any insurance agency web marketing plan should include an annual review of website content. Further, the content should be of interest to both prospects and clients alike.

Social media marketing incorporates Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and StumbleUpon to mention just a few of the major opportunities, allowing agencies to dramatically expand their marketing reach. Social media marketing offers insurance agencies the ability to expand branding, share content, establish subject matter expertise and participate in discussions. There are many aspects of insurance social media marketing to consider. For example, a simple blog entry can be utilized in many ways to expand reach. A blog can be tweeted, reblogged, ePublished, and incorporated in a newsletter or eMarketing campaign. In this case, one blog is reused five times, though there are methods where one blog can be used ten or more times, dramatically expanding internet reach and enhancing cyber presence and insurance SEO. Why is social media marketing a critical component of an overall insurance agency web marketing plan? Social media marketing creates a cyber foundation for an agency to build upon. Ultimately, social media marketing, if used correctly, can become one of the key drivers for insurance agency leads. For the purposes of this article, we’ll add blogging and ePublishing to the social media marketing category since these are tightly interconnected. Blogs which are repurposed as articles can then be shared on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and StumbleUpon, helping insurance agency SEO.

Social media marketing along with insurance agency SEO help with organic search engine rankings. Another option is paid engine ranking placement otherwise known as PPC or Pay Per Click advertising. At the top and side of the organic SERP (search engine results page) are paid PPC ads. When an internet user clicks on one of these, your agency is charged a fee. These fees can range from under a dollar to $15 or more depending upon the competitiveness of the search term. For example, let’s say that your PPC keyword phrase is New York Business Insurance, and when someone types in that keyword phrase your PPC ad appears. Depending upon your budget and keyword phrase bid, you might appear on the top, and when someone clicks on the ad, you are charge a PPC fee, let’s say five dollars. The great thing about this is that the volume, efficacy and conversion ratio are really easy to track. The negative is, of course, that you are constantly paying out ad fees. Thus the difference between organic and PPC, and predicated on your insurance agency web marketing plan, you may have budget for only one or the other, or perhaps for both.

Web seminar and eMarketing campaigns represent a compelling outbound approach for agents. Agency webinars offer the ability to communicate on a high level with B2B prospects. eMarketing campaigns that offer educational content are much better received than insurance product offers or pitches. A long term approach to agency web seminar marketing can yield significant dividends, though it is important to note that eMarketing and web seminar programs can often take up to 6 months to establish a following.

Lastly, where and how does telemarketing fit in, after all, it is not technically a web marketing solution. Telemarketing, or in this case perhaps appointment setting is a better description, can be an important component of an overall web marketing plan. After all, these web marketing leads need to be followed up upon. If producers are busy with renewals, or if they only have time for warm prospects, the outsourcing an appointment setter can be very helpful to an agency’s overall pipeline building effort. For example, when doing an eMarketing campaign, all prospects who click through to an agency website and all webinar registrants should be called directly after the web seminar to ensure that the agency has taken advantage of their web marketing efforts. If producers don’t have the time to call, the calls should be done with a qualified appointment setter. After all, the primary purpose of any web marketing plan is to drive qualified leads into the pipeline.