The top 3 strategies for your business to survive and thrive in the new digital economy.

Note: This was published on another website that is now defunct, so I’m putting it up here. I’ve left the original opening intact, which suited the original audience but is not to my current taste.

The way business is conducted in almost every market has changed fundamentally, and on a global scale, in just the past few years. Jobs – and profits – are lost to competitors overseas, entire industries have been disrupted and the economy is crumbling around our ears. The business world has gone digital, and those that haven’t moved with it are just gone, period.

But it’s not all doom and gloom – those that will survive and thrive in this changed and changing environment will do so, ironically, by embracing some of the oldest, most fundamental business practices. The tools have changed, but the principles remain the same.

A sound marketing strategy, a systematic process for converting visitors to customers and a reliable way to continue marketing to your best clients are the base of any successful business. Here are the three top strategies to make that happen, today:

1. Get customers into YOUR marketing system – not just “fans” on someone else’s:

Part of the problem with the shift to digital marketing is that many people, including some very smart people, throw away the tried and true goals and methods of business when presented with a new medium or platform. Make sure that your marketing process drives fans from places like Facebook into a marketing sequence that you control – like an email marketing auto-responder for prospects, then one for your customer list. This is so cheap as to almost be free, and yet could easily become the most profitable place to make offers on your product or service. The goal isn’t to get as many “likes” as possible – it’s to get as many customers as possible.

2. Make regular offers to your existing customers:

Jane just bought your mid-range widget; what will you do now? For most businesses, sadly, their answer is… nothing! This is not what successful businesses do! A successful business owner might: find out what Jane and customers like her want that widget for; craft a short sales piece educating Jane about why a related product or service is perfect for solving her problem or goal, and; send out that piece, selling her that product or service! A customer is the most valuable asset a business has – not finding what else you can offer them is a near-criminal waste of business resources and disservice for your clients, particularly when the whole process of providing value and making a profit can be automated via an email list.

3. Automate the followup:

You’ve made the sale, got the customer on an email list… now use it! A simple sequence of emails educating your customer on a product or service that would complement their purchase is one of the most effective ways of making a sale – and they only have to be written once. If you’re concerned it won’t work, keep in mind many businesses do no followup marketing, and suffer for it. Getting something up and running puts you way ahead of the pack.

The principles have been the same for decades, but applying them effectively to new technologies and platforms is how businesses will successfully navigate the choppy waters of digital marketing.

If you start with your audience, the rest is easy.

The more I work with clients, finish successful writing projects and run training webinars, the more I realise how important it is to start with your audience. Not only do you make a bigger impact, but you make your life much easier.

Here are 3 things I try to keep in mind when focusing on an audience:

1. Where are they now?

What stage of the purchase process if you are selling, what entertainment are they immersed in if you are writing fiction. In selling, people generally jump to far forward in the “plot” driving a customer to make a sale – how can someone know they need to buy new tyres from you if they haven’t noticed that their old ones are flat? In fiction, most writers usually start too early in the piece – cut to the action and save everyone some heartache.

2. What do they expect?

If you are preparing a commercial message, you want it to stand out from the usual messaging your audience sees from the market. In fiction, it’s always a good idea to know what your audience is likely to expect from the narrative, so you can provide a satisfying conclusion – or shock twist!

3. What do you want them to do?

Usually, on a page-by-page, line-by-line this is “keep reading until the next bit”, but as you start to look at the work as a whole it’s usually to feel a certain way or take a certain action. Like buy your product or enjoy reading your book and have the desire to read more!

Three simple questions, but if answered rigorously and honestly, you can take a massive leap forward in the quality and ease of communicating effectively with your audience.

Note: You can probably see that this post is a little schizophrenic – talking to folks who want to write copy and tell stories (though you should really do both). It’s because as I write this article I haven’t got a clear picture of the audience in mind. So which side of the coin do you think you’re on, selling or storytelling?