At least three-fourths of the marketing battle these days is being visible to consumers currently in the market for your products and services. In fact a recent B-to-B study indicated that 80% of companies found their current vendors, as opposed to the other way around. This is why businesses from mom & pop retailers to Fortune 500 manufacturers are obtaining competitive edge through proper activation of their Web presence. Key to effectively activating a 2012 Web presence is recognizing that the Web has evolved into 3 levels of interaction:
- Consumption Level: This is the original level of the Web. The hallmark of this level is company-controlled information about products and services (a.k.a. company websites). The consumption level allows companies to facilitate interaction through contact forms, information requests, or ecommerce. It has evolved into a final level of Web interaction that users utilize when they are ready to proceed with a final purchase or consumption decision.
- Credibility Level: The Credibility Level of the web has evolved because users recognize that the content generated on the Consumption Level is company controlled. In order to get beyond contrived marketing-speak, users demand technologies such as YouTube, the blog-o-sphere, directories with rating systems, and consumer-generated satisfaction surveys. These tools on the credibility level allow users to form their product or service consideration set based on more transparent content such as video demonstrations, blog posts, consumer feedback, and satisfaction ratings.
- Conversation Level: The advent and popularity of social media has led to the development of the conversation level of the Web. This level of the Web features content that is completely user-generated and, in fact, facilitates real-time questions, answers and critique with regard to products and services. The nature of the social media tools allows this conversation to get exponentially beyond one-to-one interaction – opening the floodgates of many-to-many communication. Consumers rely on this level of the Web for forming their opinions and brand perceptions – often prior to seeking information on the Credibility Level or Consumption Level.
A key component of your 2012 marketing plan should be a sound visibility strategy. It is possible for businesses to effectively participate on all 3 levels of the Web. And it’s possible to do so in a way that enhances company brand, improves customer service, and maximizes entrance into consumer consideration set.