January 2015
Volume 6, Issue 1

Setting Up Your Virtual Market in the Global Village

Unfettered by geography, the Internet presents boundless possibilities

By Nick Azar

Electronic technology has caused the world to contract into a global village, enabling the movement of information and data to stream instantly and simultaneously from throughout the world. It has broken down the physical and geographic communication barriers once presented by city and state lines and even borders between countries. Businesses are now free to build a coalition of customers from all corners of the earth.

For marketing professionals, the response has been to think locally, but act globally. In practice, this means building your own business community of customers using innovative Internet marketing. A plethora of new Web tools and applications enables us to communicate with clients easier and more effectively than ever before.

Enhanced Marketing

Contrary to appearances, online marketing is not about pitching. What the technological revolution has provided is a new set of tools for creating and nurturing relationships with potential clients and referral sources. By effectively using these devices, you can dramatically expand your marketing capabilities. Incorporated into your marketing program, online marketing can and will help you attract more clients.

Blogging Showcases Your Best

Blogging is both an ideal marketing tool and an excellent vehicle for building your own community. In many respects, it serves much the same purpose as a local newspaper. The difference, of course, is that you have total control over the flow and nature of the content.

Your blog offers the opportunity to showcase your best ideas, insights, observations, and knowledge. It’s your personal communication channel to your community, enabling you to connect directly with potential or active clients, network contacts, and referral sources. Other strengths of blogging include: no or low cost; user-friendliness; do-it-yourself communication that is operated independently, is sharable, and can be integrated; and an online portfolio of your professional writing.

Notwithstanding the rich marketing potential of blogging, the KISS principle (Keep It Short and Simple) still applies. Applying this concept will increase the readability of your posts, which, in turn, will attract a larger readership and provide greater satisfaction. Specific applications include keeping your blog relevant, short, engaging, personal, and alive.

After you publish your blog posts, you may see that someone will share the links to your posts on social media. Like websites, the biggest challenge with blogs is having ideal and potential clients find and read them. Because this is a search-engine issue, ask your SEO-savvy Web designer for help in making your blog posts SEO-friendly.

Remember that as a marketing tool, blogging should be used to connect with potential clients and engage them in conversation. Do not, repeat, do not use your blog to pitch your services.

Innovative Online Marketing

As an online office, your website also serves as a multifunctional marketing platform, helping you connect with your community. Your website and blog content are self-published using the production and distribution capabilities of your online office as a marketing platform. Similarly, uploading an instructional video to YouTube can be another product of your online office as marketing platform.

Membership Has Its Benefits

Most communities generate sub-communities, which offer like-minded individuals the opportunity to pursue shared interests. In many cases, these groups are membership based, which means that members enjoy benefits unavailable to outsiders. Online membership groups can be easily established on Facebook, LinkedIn, and your own website.

A Facebook group allows you to create your own members-only private space within the nation of more than 1 billion Facebook users and then start sharing information, posting updates, and chatting.

LinkedIn groups allow us to join conversations with colleagues and potential clients alike. The marketing activities help showcase your professional competence and personal likeability, both of which are necessary to attract clients.

By setting up a members-only feature on your website, you create the best business situation: a win-win scenario in which you and your members benefit. Members receive exclusive access to fresh content, online training, special resources, and even group coaching sessions. You benefit by building a community of self-identified, potentially ideal clients, enhancing your status as an expert and achieving passive income from a membership fee and the sale of products to members.

In order to attract members, it’s critical to offer benefits that are several steps above what is otherwise available. Strategically and financially, it is a good idea to charge a membership fee, preferably a low one such as $10 a month. A fee dramatically increases the perceived value of your services in general and enhances the perceived value of membership on your site.

In planning your members-only feature, use the following criteria as minimum standards to be met. Even better, treat them as starting points upon which you can build the best possible membership benefits.

1. Solve Specific Problems: In addition to your professional training and experience, draw upon your problem-solving skills to help clients, and in return, have clients pay for that help. Part of marketing dental laboratory services involves demonstrating the ability to help clients and their patients. Frequently, this process involves suggesting solutions to common client problems.

The best problem-solving content for your members-only feature is midway between your best fee-for-service help for clients and your marketing content. Ideal vehicles for this content include frequently asked questions and case studies.

2. Community Oriented: As dental laboratory service professionals, we are also facilitators and consolidators. We help clients identify issues and develop solutions to these problems. Then we add this experience to our collected know-how. Ideally, your members-only feature will be a vehicle for you and your members to discuss issues and share solutions to common problems.

3. Continuous Changes: Instead of ranting about rapid and constant change, re-frame the issue as an opportunity to enhance your profile. Monitor new developments and changes in the dental industry and then be the first to post and explain them in your members-only area.

The most member-friendly content is fresh news and up-to-date information. The least member-friendly content is the same-old stuff, endlessly regurgitated.

4. Potential for Ongoing Learning: All of these factors lead to perhaps the most important consideration: the potential for ongoing learning. Like laboratory professionals helping clients and patients with their transformations, members-only features help members move from where they are to where they want to be. Just as client-patient transformations continue to evolve, members continue to grow and flourish. As a result, they will need and benefit from resources that continue to help them learn and grow as dental professionals.

Nick Azar is a DAMAS consultant, business strategist, executive coach, and founder of Azar & Associates.

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