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According to a Pew Research Center report from last year, women and minority-owned firms have begun to build up substantial positions as business owners across multiple sectors. However they do not earn a proportionate share of industry revenues. For instance, women owned about 36% of the nation’s 27.6 million firms in 2012, but earned only 11.3% of all combined sales. And while minority-owned businesses made up 41% of firms, their sales totaled only 10.9% of all classifiable revenues. This disproportion in revenue makes it all the more essential for MBEs and WBEs to leverage any and every marketing advantage that they can, to increase awareness and connect to more potential customers.
Enter convergence marketing.
What Is Convergence Marketing?
Convergence marketing describes the strategic combination of these three different kinds of marketing.
Paid Media – marketing that your company purchases, such as Google Adwords, search and display advertising, SEO and PPC etc.
Owned Media – content your business produces: blogs, whitepapers, eBooks, and anything shared by your company on social media.
Earned Media – the ultimate word-of-mouth marketing with a modern twist, loyal customers become brand advocates and influencers, sharing their positive experiences on various social media sites, through reviews, and recommendations.
I cannot overstate the importance of creating a well-balanced mix of these marketing approaches, as this blended approach makes for a highly effective strategy, moving your agenda forward more quickly than would be possible with a single tactic alone.
What’s wonderful about the current digital marketing stage is that it allows you to tell your own story and distribute it according to what is best for your business, rather than hoping that third parties will get the message right. Owned media is the main vessel for telling that story in your own words; paid media gets that message in front of more people; earned media is the stamp of approval from your customers’ peers. Together they create a system of information and endorsement of your brand.
As your business begins to apply this approach, be sure to integrate these key principles.
A strong content marketing strategy is directed at buyers and prospects, fulfilling their desire for content that is original, consultative, and highly pertinent to whatever stage of the decision-making process they are in. By developing strategies based on real consumer habits rather than abstract assumptions, you can engage consumers on multiple platforms where they most need reinforcement.
One report, surveying more than 400 business buyers across a wide range of global industries and disciplines, revealed that 67% of respondents trusted and valued research and white papers from professional organizations most out of all online content. And the most valued characteristics in content were “breadth and depth of information, ease of access and understanding, originality of thinking, and timeliness of content.”
Stop thinking of your business in terms of sales, and start focusing on the ways you fulfill customer needs. If you can immerse users in your company’s innovation, you can create new products, apps, and accessible ecosystems that continue to keep a customer connected rather than limiting the interaction to a few sales.
IT and marketing must be willing to improve collaboration, combining ideas with practical applications. Marketing managers must increase their understanding of technology, its limits and possibilities and how to incorporate it into proposed strategies.
For the most meaningful changes in your approach to marketing, it may be necessary to return to the experimental practices you used when you first began your business. Experiment with new tools, be accountable for aspects of the consumer experiences, and employ agile methodology and rapid prototype. Uproot the assumptions you have collected over the years and think like a startup, like a newer, leaner company with opportunities to learn and perfect its behaviors.
The more perspectives and expertise that can be brought together from various fields, disciplines, personalities, and cultures, the better. With contributions from many different sources you can improve the quality of your marketing strategies and hone a team that can check in regularly and make adjustments as needed.
The cycle of convergence marketing depends on all three types of media. Engaging, customer-oriented, informative, and problem-solving content of owned media draws customers in, and paid efforts strategically place content where it can be better seen. Once you earn your audience’s loyalty, brand advocates will take your message and spread it.
It’s crucial that your strategy be well thought out and well executed, with compelling call-to-actions driven foremost by customer benefits. Once, digital marketing was synonymous with paid media, but not anymore. Now marketing must be about more, creating ways for customers to build relationships with you as a trusted brand, and seeking customer involvement as much as possible.
As always, should you like to discuss how these convergence marketing strategies can be applied to your business, please get in touch.
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