What anyone above 30 needs to know about online marketing
Catholic preacher and author Bo Sanchez is oddly out of place among the entertainers, politicians and brands that fall among the top 100 most popular Filipinos in the top-ranking social media platform Facebook.
But with a total of 261,995, total fans or followers, he garnered the number 84 slot – just above Monster Radio, and several places ahead of Kris Aquino but far behind Vice Ganda, the comedian who placed number one in the mid-August ranking of Famecount.com. with 3.5 million total fans.
Online marketing specialist Jomar Hilario likes to hold up Sanchez’s Facebook (FB) fame as proof that to reach audiences below 35 years of age, online savvy more than limitless resources is what counts.
Hilario, who is responsible for increasing Sanchez’s FB following, is among the best known Filipinos in the digital space populated by global and local entrepreneurs. Through seminars, mostly held in Manila but now increasingly conducted in Cebu and Cagayan de Oro, he trains Filipinos to be virtual assistants (VAs) to business owners in the US, Europe and elsewhere.
Without ever seeing the faces of their assistants, the employers outsource work to a growing segment of 20-somethings from Pasay as well as Cebu and wherever there is a reliable digital connection. Living out a dream to be their own bosses, they own their time and work from home. Thanks to Jomar who has trained over 500 to be VAs, Filipino workers now have the reputation for being “the best”, “dedicated and professional,” according to their happy employers on outsourceretreat.com.
Hilario is also an avid teacher of online marketing to small and medium business owners in the Philippines – 2,000 and counting have gone to his seminars usually held in the condominium complex where he stays in Taguig, Metro Manila. Another 700 have downloaded his seminars from 2008 and 2011 in the hopes of maximizing what the Internet and other social platforms have to offer at this time.
Following are a number of pointers for would-be internet marketers directed to those above 35 years from the engaging Hilario (Those under 35 would already have realized these):
Accept that the medium changes everything. When selling on Facebook or the Internet, Hilario recommends first selling a vision desired by the target audience. Only after you have engaged the target audience, do you introduce your product or service as a means to attain the vision. When he markets his VA seminars, for example, a typical Hilario message will devote 90 percent to the joys of working at home and being free of the shackles of corporate life and only 10 percent – by way of a PS – to his workshop. “It’s a process of courtship. You always start by selling a promise,” says Hilario.
Another Hilario corollary is that hardselling doesn’t work online. What you communicate online is not what you would communicate on a billboard or poster.
A well-known coffee brand, for instance, has a lot of followers on Facebook and Twitter largely because of the weather updates it sends out with appropriate advices such as bring an umbrella to work today. Think of online media as a mall. You want your potential clients to perceive your page or website as a good place to hang out. Once you have their attention, they are more prone to act on your subtle selling messages.
Always give your potential clients a reason to like you on Facebook. It’s unrealistic to expect people seeing your billboard on the South Luzon Expressway to “like” you on FB just because you have the FB icon on it. Offer discounts and special offers on your FB page to motivate them to hit the Like button. Always keep in mind that there has to be something in your fanpage for them. They will keep going back to your fanpage or keep receiving your e-mail messages for that matter only because they find something useful there.
Don’t even think of spamming. The most inefficient and dangerous way to sell something is by writing your sales pitch and e-mailing it to everyone on your address book and those on the address books of everyone else you know.
The Anti-Spam Law of the US (officially the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act) may not be in effect in the Philippines but it does give Yahoo, Google and Hotmail a reason to ban you from their services. Catch the ire of these big boys online and you become a digital mute. Nobody will hear your message.
In his Internet Marketing seminar which can be downloaded at http://www.jomarhilario.com, the digital expert constantly reminds participants: “Online you need to get the consent of your potential client to keep receiving your messages – whether the permission is expressed or just inferred,” says Hilario. You also need to include an unsubscribe link to your messages so your audience can quickly opt not to hear from you any longer.
Last, you need to put your contact information on commercial e-mails. Or risk penalties of $16,000 per violation. Yes, Hilario knows of spammers who have been hit by the Anti Spam “police.”
Don’t be afraid of bloggers. Online and off, someone who has been displeased by your company is more likely to be vocal than someone you have “wowed” with great service. To counteract negative comments especially by bloggers, address complaints immediately – online. Your online responses backed up with practical actions will prove to your potential audience that you value what clients say about you and make them more prone to be forgiving of your errors.
Get to know your customers through your FAQs. Your most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and their appropriate answers should be on your website and your fanpage. “Consider your FAQs as a live document that should always be updated,” says Hilario. You constantly update the top 10 complaints and inquiries of your clients to get insights on how they perceive you. You also do that as a service to them.
Hang on to your customer’s e-mail addresses. By its own admission, Facebook traffic in the US and Canada is already declining as of this writing. It may not be the platform to focus on in a few years time, according to Hilario. In contrast, everyone uses and hangs on to his e-mail address. Your clients’ e-mail addresses will thus remain useful to you for a long time to come –
but must be treated like a fire extinguisher. In other words, it is good to have handy in extreme cases but must always be used judicially.
But don’t count Facebook out – not just yet. As old Nokia phones get phased out, smart phones like the Windows-powered Nokia will give more people access to Facebook in the Philippines.
“Once those Windows-powered Nokias hit the secondhand market, we are likely to see a boom in local Facebook usage as more consumers gain easy access to it,” Hilario predicts. However, this does not mean that the tech-savvy and more affluent will want to stay on Facebook when that happens.
The lesson we will have to learn here is that ultimately, there will be more channels and platforms serving various segments and markets.
The trick for the online marketer is to know where to reach his potential customers – online, for anyone below 30 years old as of today. On both traditional and online media, for those above 30 with the median age rising as the generation of the heaviest online users today gain control of marketing budgets.
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