Do you always get out what you put in?

Is the reward always worth the effort?

There is a saying in business (and in life) that you get out what you put in. But is this really true? As the economy lurches from recession to depression and back again, businesses are working harder and harder not to achieve growth but to stand still. And marketers are having to stretch reduced budgets to achieve the same outcomes.

Techniques like Internet based content marketing assume that the creation and distribution of useful, usable information to specific audiences will over time develop their trust, reliance and eventually spend with you are in vogue.

But there are huge barriers to entry for businesses. How can you work around them?

First off, listen. Understand what is happening online, monitor the discussions, obtain insight and establish who the big voices are before doing anything.

Second, you need a fully functioning website capable of providing information quickly and channelling visitors to the lead capture devices that have built in.

Third, develop optimised material that they will be interested in and will click to obtain – accepting that by offering an email address and a phone number, they are opting in to future dialogue with your business.

Finally, promote this material widely on the Internet in order to capture the attendance of your audience where they graze. This means considering an investment in paid and earned media on media sites, industry portals, discussion forums and social networking sites to stimulate interest.

There is a clear in-cost involved in this. But there is also the ‘time’ cost which is often not calculated by businesses that are not time/service oriented.

Positioning yourself as an expert in order to drive inbound lead generation isn’t easy, quick or cheap. But by implementing a measured approach over the long term (and avoiding the distracting overtures of certain social media tools and games), you will build trust in your products and services regardless of budget or resource.

Image: Howstuffworks

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New Year, Same Old Approach?

Everyone makes resolutions at this time of year. We wait until January because that’s what we’re conditioned to do. Lofty promises to do things different, better, cheaper, quicker. Waiting for tomorrow, when tomorrow never actually comes.

What about today? Today is here, today is now. Today is live. What if you made one resolution today to change, improve or do something different from the way you’ve always done it or the way things have always been.

What if today you offered your prized customers a refund or rebate based on last year’s business or this year’s? Or rewarded prompt payment? Why don’t you announce a recession busting price freeze, or offer something new or free as a value add? Why not create a recommend a friend CRM programme so your best and most trusted customers do some of your hard work for you? Commit to writing a blog or a regular customer newsletter.

Embrace the digital environment and ensure your business is represented on platforms like Linkedin, Twitter and FaceBook if relevant. Create a ‘wiki’ or share content

A better approach in what is going to be a very difficult year, must surely to be constantly change, try, experiment and not just wait for tomorrow.

So, what’s your approach to the new year?