Water Conditioning & Purification Magazine

Finding the Right Mix for 2012

By David H. Martin

It’s that time of the year again. You need to start planning your marketing for next year, right now. And you should start by doing your homework.

Don’t be afraid to look back before you go forward
So this year hasn’t been everything you had hoped? Don’t be discouraged—it’s a new year. At the same time, you need to look back to evaluate what happened and what didn’t.

Here’s a checklist of things to consider:

  • How much did you spend on marketing versus a strong local competitor?
  • List all your 2011 marketing expenses by category.
  • How much did you spend on each?
  • Did you put all your eggs in one basket instead of using a thoughtful mix?
  • Have you overlooked marketing techniques that might have worked?
  • Are you willing to explore something new next year?

Intelligent marketing: a mix of new and tried-and-true
Look at marketing as how you support sales, all year long. For many years, the techniques and strategies for promoting the water treatment dealer business hardly changed at all. In the digital age, dealers are no longer restricted to choosing from the same universe of traditional media: newspapers, radio, TV, occasional mailings and a schedule of local event participations, from home shows to mall events to county fairs.

Today there are technology-driven disciplines that promise better targeted marketing, affordable one-on-one opportunities to educate and influence, and better accountability than ever possible with the more familiar mass media. And yet, will continue to use direct mail and advertising as part of the mix. A recent Pitney Bowes study indicated that 58 percent are using digital and traditional channels to create blended campaigns.

Two years ago, Richard Anderson, formerly Vice President of Sales at Aquion, started his independent water treatment business in Denver, CO. Beginning with a limited budget, ClearView Water was founded on a blend of Web marketing techniques. “Social marketing has been an important part of our Web-driven sales and marketing program right from the start,” explains Anderson. The company website (www.clearviewwater.com) features icons linked to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, as well as YouTube. “All of these are interlinked from every page of our website. The same site invites visitors to sign up for future email offers and also to join our blog.” Having everything interlinked has resulted in ClearView enjoying a ’page-one‘ listing on Google in the Denver market, says Anderson.

Social marketing complements search marketing and email Many small- and medium-size businesses
Many small- and medium-size businesses have recently latched onto social networks as the advertising tool of choice to promote products and services. In fact, 48 percent said they use Facebook, 25 percent rely on other social networks, 22 percent use blogs and 19 percent tap Twitter, according to the latest BIA/Kelsey Local Commerce Monitor, an ongoing study of small business advertising spending habits.

Search and social applications will continually blend. The use of Twitter by small- and medium-size businesses more than doubled to 19 percent in the final quarter of 2010—up from nine percent in the year-ago quarter—whereas the use of Yellow Page print directories remained steady at 29 percent.

According to MailerMailer’s latest Email Marketing Metrics Report, despite the booming success of social media marketing, email remains the most reliable and effective tool for marketers today. Many expected that social media would replace email marketing altogether. Instead of replacing email, however, social media has become an ally, joining forces with email marketing to provide consumers with yet another way to engage with businesses.

Email remains the preferred method of communication among social-media users who choose to interact with companies and brands online. Fifty-six percent of US Internet users interact with brands via marketing emails only, compared to 1.3 percent who interact only on Twitter and 0.7 percent who interact on Facebook alone. The report quotes additional sources for study data relating to email considerations.

According to a study conducted by Lyris, 54 percent of online marketers in North America said that combining social media with email marketing led to either somewhat or significantly better results.

MarketingSherpa found that roughly 80 percent of marketers said social-sharing elements in email campaigns “extends the reach of email content to new markets” (81 percent) and “increases brand reputation and awareness” (78 percent). Roughly 70 million mobile users accessed email through their mobile device or smart phone in 2010, with 43.5 million doing so on a nearly daily basis.

In a survey conducted by BtoB Magazine in January 2011, 63 percent of the respondents planned to increase spending on email in 2012.

Social evolution: where’s it all headed?
When asked about the use of video, links, blogs and customer reviews and ratings within the next 12 months, 14 percent of the businesses participating in the BIA/Kelsey survey said they would aggressively use video on other websites (including YouTube) within the next year. Thirty-two percent said they would use video on their own websites, 46 percent would use links and ads on social sites and blogs, and 39 percent would rely on customer ratings and reviews. That compares with seven, 16, 35 and 29 percent, respectively, during the past 12 months.

Yellow Pages publishers saw online revenue continue its double-digit revenue increase to reach $2.33 billion (USD) in 2010, while print revenue declined to $11.24 billion as the industry battled the double punch of a tough economy and an ever strengthening search-engine world led by Google.

What’s next? Mobile marketing, fueled by smart-phone technology, will be worth looking into by the end of 2012. And the newest tool to enter the marketing mix is Quick Response (QR) codes. With mobile phones empowered to scan your custom QR code from a truck display, or even a billboard or business card, you can drive on-the-move users to your website.

Some marketing tips for 2012

  • Determine a monthly budget for consistent efforts, ways you intend to promote all year long, as budget permits.
  • List all the special promotions you can think of. Many of these will necessarily coincide with community events, which afford the opportunity for you to promote quality water and service. These include home shows, health fairs, communityart fairs, races, picnics and other venues that not only provide opportunities to develop sales leads, but create goodwill.
  • Update your email list by soliciting email addresses at every opportunity.
  • Don’t forget to cultivate your reputation as a community water expert by offering to speak on contemporary water problems at fraternal organizations and other meetings.
  • Blend old media and new for an integrated marketing program.
  • Look into paid search ads on Google.
  • Stretch your budget with low-cost promotions at local races and other community events where you can provide quality drinking water for participants and spectators.
  • Contact key suppliers for quality marketing materials and cooperative ad dollars.

Update your website to include social-marketing tools.More than ever, your website is the hub of prospecting for leads and mounting a productive dialogue with existing customers. Make sure your site is optimized to attract organic search-engine traffic. Cast a broader web of opportunity by adding Facebook, Twitter and YouTube links to your website. Consider a blog of our own.

You can do it all yourself or seek outside expertise to juice up your website, or design a more interactive new one. What you add to your 2012 marketing mix is up to you. But odds are, it will be different from 2011.

 About the author
David Martin is President of Lenzi Martin Marketing, Oak Park, IL, a firm specializing in water improvement and environmental marketing that integrates old and new media. He can be reached at (708) 848-8404 or by email, dmartin@lenzimartin.com


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