Owning a business is one of many ways of earning an income, if not the most sought-after. In this new age, people have shifted from an employee mindset to an entrepreneurial one. What with the perks of being an entrepreneur – owning your own time, working at home or a hole-in-the-wall café, and creating your own opportunity – more and more people are giving it a try and starting a business. Even in the Philippines, the number of entrepreneurs is rising with the Philippines placing 10th out of 73 countries as the most entrepreneurial according to research by Approved Index, a B2B marketplace.
Business owners and entrepreneurs know that starting a business is an uphill battle. If you look at successful businesses, none of them happened overnight. There are many challenges to overcome and one of which is getting your business out there. How to raise awareness and acquire a following to produce sales are common concerns entrepreneurs face. This is the role of marketing.
MoneyMax.ph interviewed James Ryan Jonas to get some insights on maximizing online marketing for businesses. He is a UP-Diliman professor who serves as a mentor and coach to student teams in various local and international competitions. One of the teams he mentored won the top prize in the 2013 Google Online Marketing Challenge (GOMC), besting 2,500 teams in the world.
Why You Need to Take Your Business Online
“Online marketing plays a pivotal role especially now that we are becoming more connected to the internet,” James Ryan Jonas says when asked the importance of online marketing for businesses nowadays. “We need to reach our target market, and online marketing is one way to reach them cheaply and more effectively.”
Furthermore, online marketing, to be used alongside offline marketing (e.g. TV and radio advertisements), benefits business owners through the following:
Just a quick look at your Facebook newsfeed and you can see the importance of online marketing for businesses. If your post, be it a video, an article or an infographic, becomes viral; then your marketing is effective. Virality results to raising awareness for your brand and growing your audience. The more people are aware of your business, the greater the likelihood for sales and generating income. This is the strength of online marketing, reaching your target audience cheaply and effectively.
2. Definitive measurement
The presence of online metric tools such as Google Analytics allows entrepreneurs with online businesses numerical proof of where their sales originate from. For traditional media (e.g. TV and radio advertisements), “there is no direct correlation yet that their usage deliver sales. They have been proven to increase reach and awareness, but companies now are looking at other metrics to determine whether their advertisements are effective or not,” says Jonas.
As for online, using platforms such as Google Analytics allow you to see where your sales come from. These can come from advertisements in blogs, online publications, and Facebook among others. If you have 100 sales in a day, Google Analytics can show you that 50 sales came from Facebook, 30 from online publications, and the rest from blog links.
3. On-demand information
Online metric platforms “produce real-time, instant information and analytics, so you can see if what you’re doing is profitable.” There is no need to wait for end-of-month or even end-of-day data because these tools give you the numbers in real-time. You can see the exact number of people looking at your website at this exact moment. This allows you to efficiently and simultaneously test different marketing channels (Facebook ads, Google AdWords, etc.).
Maximizing Online Marketing
“If you want to reach more people, then Facebook is the social media platform to use,” James Ryan Jonas says. However, “Facebook marketing is just one of the multiple ways to do online marketing. In the Philippines, online marketing is still in its infancy stage. There is still a lot of room for growth.” Jonas highlights the 3 ways to maximize different online marketing channels:
1. Content Marketing
Content marketing is the creation of content and information to reach, acquire, and retain customers. This includes but is not limited to articles, video logs, infographics, pictures, and the list goes on. Jonas says that the key for this form of marketing is to “produce relevant, unique, and timely content.”
See below for a specific example of how relevance, timeliness, and uniqueness can be applied:
- Relevance: If you’re writing a write-up for a restaurant, include the address, numbers, menu prices of the restaurant and pictures of all your meals rather than describing how the meal was sans photographs and other information
- Timeliness: An example of this is providing livestreaming or live tweet updates of an anticipated UAAP game. Not everyone can watch the game in the arena or has premium cable, so these people will be looking for the above-mentioned
- Uniqueness: if you are a travel writer, you can create a monopoly of information by targeting less-traveled destinations (e.g. write-up of an Antarctic cruise versus the most common cruises taken)
2. Search Marketing
This is the marketing of gaining traction and increasing your business’ visibility in the worldwide web. This includes keyword research (what people are most likely to type on the search bar), link building (the more links to your website, the greater the visibility), and re-marketing (re-displaying ads for visitors who have already visited your site) among others. This goes hand-in-hand with content marketing and information that is relevant, timely, and unique.
3. Social Media Marketing
“You need to use the appropriate social media for your message and target market,” James Ryan Jonas explains. “If you are targeting businessmen and professionals, Linkedin is more effective than Facebook.” Align the social media platforms to your target market and the business’ brand.
Taking the Leap
Marketing and growing your business is no easy feat. You need to come up with a plan and strategy and continuously improve it. 15 years ago, Facebook didn’t exist yet; now, it’s one of the most effective tools for marketing.
When asked the future of online marketing, Jonas says, “the trend is people are going mobile. Your website and business should be mobile-responsive. Furthermore, you have to provide on-demand information. With Wi-Fi now offered in-flight, business never stops.”
In the near future, Google, through Project Loon, aims to provide internet access in the most rural and remotest areas of the globe through the use of a traveling network of balloons equipped with Wi-Fi. You can just imagine the repercussions on this for online marketing.
To end the interview, Jonas advises: “You have to use your online platform to engage and delight your consumers. Your consumers can also be the number one promoters of your brand or business, so you have to cultivate a long-lasting relationship with them, so that in the end, these people start to talk positively about your company and your brand. That’s the best form of advertising.”
Professor James Ryan Jonas’ experience in marketing and entrepreneurship spans numerous platforms. Aside from mentoring student teams in competitions such as the Google Online Marketing Challenge and HSBC Business Case Competition, he is the founder of Pinoy Money Talk, a finance-oriented community, and Pinoy Investor, an online resource for investors.