Chasing Tail

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In business, we’re all chasing after something, or should I say, someone…

Whatever your business is, whether it’s real estate or racquetballs, swimming pools or politics, it relies on the consumer- the customers and clients. And whether or not your company puts most of its resources into marketing or none at all, what the public thinks of your organization is important to its survival and growth. And this is where the act of marketing comes in.

Magazine spreads, radio, television, Internet banners, pay-per-click, pay-per-call, pay-per-Digg, pay-per-view, pay-per-text, pay-per-blog, pay-per-lead, word of mouth, direct mail, billboard and outdoor signs, bus wraps and benches, public relations, newspaper, movie theatre, packaging, cross-promotion, point-of-sale, airplanes writing messages in the sky, balloons, and every other type of marketing can have an impact on your business. Some marketing is purchased and some is earned, but it all has an effect.

Different types of marketing have different advantages and challenges. Cost, reach, frequency, impressions, interaction, static, image, targeting, timing, etc. When deciding on a marketing campaign it’s important to look at the different factors and what you are trying to accomplish. I’ll give an example…

When launching BlueRoof.com in July, I decided that long-term branding was just as important to me as achieving fast results. I wanted to get business, but I also wanted to build a brand identity. So I invested in different types of marketing to accomplish different types of results.

I ran some television commercials on Fox News (targeting the highly Republican population in Utah) and HGTV (targeting women) to get me reach, I paid for three billboards, and now we have four (two along I-15, the main freeway, one on Highway 201, or 21st South freeway, and one on 3300 S off Redwood Road) to build long-term brand awareness, a half-page color ad in City Weekly newspaper (targeting the young, liberal, and urban demographic), newspaper ads (targeting the older demographic), and every month I pay a substantial amount toward Internet advertising in the form of PPC, banners, and sponsorships of Zillow.com and KSL.com. We are also a major sponsor of the Utah Jazz basketball team for the upcoming season, which is important to us because we feel pride in the community’s only professional sports team, and it also reaches a demographic that is mostly families. The Internet marketing I do brings me instant traffic to my site, while having billboards on the freeway helps people remember who we are. Sponsoring the Utah Jazz helps me get my message out to families, while the City Weekly ads are more risque and edgy.

So far, it seems that our marketing has been effective. Our brand awareness has grown very rapidly and our website traffic continues to grow very fast. But for all the facts and figures about cost-per-thousand and demographics, one of the most important pieces of our marketing is long-tail marketing efforts. or efforts that may not make as big an impact up front, but over time will cumulatively impact our business.

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Basically, Long Tail describes how smaller amounts of a lot can equal larger amounts of less. If you go to a supermarket you’ll notice that most of them sell tens or hundreds of thousands of items. They probably sell a lot of bread, milk and butter. Those are a few of the big sellers. But they probably make as much money selling at least one of every other item in the store every month.

Amazon and Ebay are classic examples of the power of long-tail efforts. Amazon says that about a third of their business comes from uncommon and less-known book and movie titles and eBay grew into it’s success by marketing millions of people’s “junk”. Of course both of these companies sell popular things as well, but neither would not be as strong, or reach nearly as many people if not for their long-tail sales efforts.

Long-Tail can also apply to marketing efforts.

Blogging is a long-tail marketing effort. Each time I post a new entry it will be seen by a few hundred people during it’s first few days, but over time it may be seen by tens of thousands of people via search engines, discussions, comments, links and archive searching. Some posts are even picked up and submitted to news sites, which can lead to even more longevity.

Going to conferences, such as Inman Connect and various Board and Association conferences are a long-tail effort for us, as Realtors. The initial benefit of introducing ourselves are not nearly as important as the lasting impressions and relationships we can make that can affect our business for years. A perfect example of this is the last Connect we attended, this last summer, which caused a stir and got us attention that continues to bring up our name in discussions.

This is also why we use controversy and humor in marketing. The affects of the ads can last much longer than the ads themselves. Even if the ad has nothing to do with what it is selling, if you remember the ad, and the ad ties together with the product, you’ll remember the product (or service). And that lasting affect doesn’t cost you any more. You pay for the ad space, air-time, or function, regardless of whether or not the ad causes discussion. Sometimes the resulting discussion markets your business more than the ad did.

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When mapping out your marketing plan and deciding on your strategy, consider the shelf- life of your marketing and how you can incorporate long-tail efforts into your upcoming campaigns. The pay-off may be more than you think.

Creating inertia for a business, image, or brand can be tough. It can be costly and time-consuming and happens easiest with some luck. But it can happen for anyone with the right planning, focus and effort. It begins with something great and then continues with momentum caused by the effects of our work and marketing. And one of the best ways to keep momentum going is through long-tail efforts.

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