Marketing in the Digital World

Here�s how to craft a smart online strategy

For many entrepreneurs and small business owners, the term “social media” conjures up the image of a daunting Tower of Babel. Adopting digital as part of an overall marketing, sales, and branding strategy can be intimidating at best and a disaster at worst if implemented incorrectly. But simply ignoring social media tools can be costly. According to an Arbitron Inc. and Edison Research report, 48% of all Americans 12 and older have a social networking profile. This means millions of potential clients, listeners, and viewers are waiting to do business with you.

The Right Tool for the Right Job
Still you have questions: How do I find an audience? Which tools should I use? More importantly, how do I make money? “When clients come to me, that’s usually the first question they ask,” notes Alandis K. Brassel, 25, founder of Go Forth Music. His New York City-based company develops digital marketing and branding strategies for independent musicians.

Brassel says that entrepreneurs need to first understand their target audience and should assess their online presence before jumping onto multiple platforms. Once Brassel establishes a digital home for a client, typically a WordPress site, he uses e-mail and text messaging campaigns and social networking to establish brand consistency. “It’s about picking the right tools,” he says. “You don’t have to be on everything—Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, or the new thing coming out next month.”

Better, Not Bigger
A plethora of tools, the prevalence of “experts,” and too much “noise” in the marketplace can lead to anxiety for entrepreneurs who think that in order to reach clients, they must be everywhere. “Clients often come to me and want to know, ‘Can you get me a lot of followers?’ But the followers have to be in your target market, and you have to build a relationship,” says Tasha “TC” Cooper Coleman, Esq., CEO of Upward Action L.L.C., a brand development, social media, and digital marketing agency in Caldwell, New Jersey. Coleman, 35, has a client roster that includes NASA, United Negro College Fund Special Programs Corp., and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers Inc.

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