March 2011
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Building Online Buzz in 2011
Marketing buzz or simply buzz is a term used in word-of-mouth marketing.

Manny Mandrusiak

Manny Mandrusiak
Managing Creative Consultant,
4 Bravo Marketing

Contributing Editor


The Industry has always had a very unique problem when it comes to taking a product to market, especially when it involves new technologies or innovations. Often new technologies or innovations are remarkable, but do not have the following that is needed for industry wide acceptance.  There are thousands of companies that have some of the greatest talent on the planet producing the most innovative solutions that the world has never known.  No that last sentence was not a typo. It is the same problem that has been plaguing companies since selling was invented – “How do I take my product to market, and now in an online world”? 

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In this article I want to tackle to problem of taking a product to market when the market exists online.  It is no secret that the internet has had a tremendous impact on every aspect of our culture.  We see it every day in everything that we do.  No longer are potential customers inclined to simply call for product information or a demonstration.  Customers search for your product and company on the web, on Google, on YouTube and other social media sites.  They look for online product reviews about your product to see what other users had to say about your product both good, and bad. They look for product demos and videos on YouTube, and they are looking for easy access to your company when they have decided that they want the product. Consumers can no longer just “see and touch” products they rely on the internet to provide them with the supporting collateral to influence their buying decisions.

The previous paragraph presents a very long “to do” list for anyone entering the world of online marketing and can easily look extremely unachievable without spending a considerable amount of money.  The truth is that any company can easily spend thousands of dollars with PR and marketing companies to achieve an online awareness mainly because they do not understand the types of activities that they are engaging in. That is all about to change.  The following contains some tips for how to build your own corporate buzz online.

How to build your own Corporate Buzz

Finding yourself on the Digital Landscape
How do you build corporate buzz for your company?  First you need to understand a little about Buzz Marketing:

Definition of Buzz Marketing:
Marketing buzz or simply buzz is a term used in word-of-mouth marketing. The interaction of consumers and users of a product or service serve to amplify the original marketing message.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buzz_marketing

1.    Determine where to start. 
In land navigation an individual who is lost will never know where they are going unless they know where they are.  Start looking at the online world around your company and your competition.

a.    Google Alerts – These are essential in the marketing toolbox.  It is a subscription based services that is free to set up, and users can set the parameters of what they wish to search for.  Set up Google Alerts (www.google.com/alerts) for your company and your competition.  Then look at who is writing about you and your competitors.   People that are writing about your competition generally have an interest in the types of products or services that they provide.  This data will enable you to build a list of: websites, blogs, Twitter feeds, online magazines who have an interest in your field and are potentially looking for content from you.

2.    Identify the Target Market
The first thing to be understood is that it’s not about you. This is the hardest thing for engineers and developers to understand. The product that you created no matter hardware, or software, is your baby.  Totally understandable, and as the creator you may think that it is the most beautiful product you have ever seen and will solve all the world’s problems including world hunger.  This is the point where engineers and marketers often butt heads.  The question that I will always ask is “What end-user problem does this product solve”? An enhanced GUI or improved connectivity does not constitute news.  Solving a problem from an end-user perspective, now that is news.

Identify the target of your marketing efforts – Brainstorm with your staff and determine what vertical your product will be used in.  Then determine exactly “who” (by title i.e. control engineer) will be using the product.  Who will make the decisions about purchasing the product, and who influences that decision?

3.    Establish the Objective
This is a critical step in the initial planning phase.  Be realistic and specific about what you want the marketing plan to achieve.  Achieving “more sales” is not a specific goal and does contribute to the success of a good online marketing plan.  Determine a specific target and what kind of sales that your company hopes to achieve through online marketing efforts.  It could be a 10% increase in the sales of a new software platform, or a deep penetration of three large targeted companies.  Your company staff needs to decide what this is.

4.    Resources
Before you approach your boss asking for large sums of money for online ads and pay-per-click ads take stock of what resources that you have available to you.  What demos, case studies, papers, social media sites currently exist in your organization?  What out sourced companies do you know who can assist you in achieving your goals?

5.    Create the Plan
One of my favorite Drill Instructors used to love taunting his recruits with the phrase “Fail to plan – plan to fail”.  It is exactly like that with online marketing of a product in this industry.  You may think that there is a plan and strategy, and maybe it only exists in your head.  Put it on paper!  Just like any business plan, an online marketing plan needs to be put on paper.  If it is not, then tasks slip, and no real tangible results can be achieved.

This is the part of the process where some of that initial data about what websites and authors are writing about your competitors comes in to play. Create a list of online publications and topics that your company can submit: articles, case studies, white papers, videos, and blog posts relating to your technology or products. 

Press releases are a part of online media plans that companies take for granted.  They are a very powerful tool in an online marketing arsenal.  Be sure to include them as part of major product announcements or product upgrades.

Control Solutions, Inc 6.    Where do I advertise
This is a topic that brings up a lot a heated discussion between online editors as to which website is the top dog when it comes to advertising.  The data that was collected in point one will come in handy here. Your company needs to select the websites and online magazines which target the customer that you identified as your customer in point two. 

Key considerations for choosing online ads:

  1. Placement- Where will the ad be placed?  Will it be placed above or below the fold? This will often determine the price of an advertisement.
  2. What is the Click-Thru rate per month?
  3. Where is my competitor’s ad in relation to mine on your website?
  4. What is the size of the mailing list that your newsletter is distributed to, and is it my target demographic?
  5. Are you one of the top five websites in the industry vertical where my customer base resides?
  6. Do I get monthly reports about my ads to determine the success of ad positioning?

Ultimately there are a million directions that a company can go with online advertising.  One of the best choices for companies, that do not have extensive resources, is to hire an outside consultant to take care of their PR and online ads.  Chances are that the consultant will already have extensive contacts in the media, and will be able to advise the company about the most cost effective way to market their product or services through online ads.

7.    A little about Social Media Marketing
It is not a truly sensible policy for a company to attempt to build a business solely based on social media.  I do however believe that companies can leverage social media platforms to make their business stronger.   First off let’s look at what Social Media Marketing actually is:

Definition of Social Media Marketing:
Social media marketing is a term that describes use of social networks, online communities, blogs, wikis or any other online collaborative media for marketing, sales, public relations and customer service. ...
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_media_marketing

I suggest blending the elements of social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube) into existing marketing programs. While it may be inexpensive overall, the main focus of all marketing actions is the customer.  The customer is still the main factor when it comes to how you market. Keep customers the focal point of all your decisions; remember it is not about you.

One thing to remember about Social Media Marketing is that it is all about networking.  It is not simply adding friends on Facebook, or followers on Twitter.  It is about building relationships with people. Building buzz about your products and services is about getting the people who are excited most about your products and services to promote you through their social media sites.

Social Media tips:

Note- Social Media may look like it is incredibly easy and inexpensive to establish, but it requires a significant cost in time and personnel to plan, and maintain this online presence.  Many companies will choose to hire an outside firm or consultant to act as an administrator for these tasks. Remember to select carefully if you out source these services as it is your corporate brand on the line. 

8.    What cannot be measured cannot be improved
Select an analytics package like Google Analytics to track your progress.  Most companies have some sort of analytics package already built-in to their corporate website.  If not then Google Analytics is a nice place to start.  This data will enable you to analyze the results of your online marketing plan.

Similarly there are numerous web-based tools that are available to track the success of social media campaigns. 

In Conclusion

Online Marketing Plans can be extremely extensive, or extremely streamlined.  The main things to consider are:

  1. Choose the activities that are right for your company, and set goals to achieve them.
  2. If using an out sourced consultant, ensure that they are committed to your company marketing plan.
  3. Ensure effective placement of online ads and detailed reporting.
  4. Proper identification of the target audience and creating a plan to market to that audience.
  5. Timely and robust content for social media sites.  Consistency is the key.
  6. Good content on online magazines and selected websites with proper positioning is always the key to creating buzz within a customer base.
  7. Above all ensure that brand integrity remains of the utmost importance.

The world is evolving at an exponential rate, and the digital medium is the key to any product or service marketing success. Those companies who do not wish to be left behind must embrace the new technologies and combine them with traditional marketing practices to create hybrid marketing plans that increase both product sales and brand awareness.  Hopefully this article provided some of the building blocks for companies to build flexible online marketing plans that can be easily and effectively maintained throughout the year.

About the Author
Manny Mandrusiak - Managing Creative Consultant, 4 Bravo Marketing
“There is a plan in everything.  Let 4 Bravo Marketing put together your plan for success.  We love it when a plan comes together.”
Manny Mandrusiak entered the field of marketing after retiring from the Canadian Infantry in 2005. He was employed as the Sales and Marketing Manager for the Sherwood Park Chamber of Commerce, and then on to hold the position of Acting Executive Director. Recruited by MatrikonOPC to head up marketing for their OPC line of products, Manny has been responsible for all aspects of marketing standards based software to various industry verticals. He left MatrikonOPC to take a position with the OPC Foundation as Vice President of OPC Marketing. After a two year career organizing and executing technology training events for both organizations, Manny has chosen to return to his roots of Sales and Marketing by creating his own consulting company - 4 Bravo Marketing.  4 Bravo Marketing is not a traditional consulting company.  It is an idea management and execution engine. “We take ideas and make them better and we make them reality”. 4 Bravo Marketing specializes in all areas of Sales & Marketing, Lead Generation, event planning and execution, motivational speaking, print and graphic design.   Interested parties can contact Manny at manny@4bravomarketing.com or at www.4bravomarketing.com







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