Are you building out your business plan? Perhaps you’ve been tasked with creating a marketing plan at the office for that new product or service?
There are a lot of obvious things you’re going to address: PR; conferences/exhibitions; SEM/SEO; email; print; direct mail; catalogs; CD/DVD; word-of-mouth; point of purchase; paid placement; end caps; packaging; etc.
I want to challenge you to think about some of the not-so-obvious stealth marketing techniques.
One in particular – The Intranet. My most recent jobs have required me to think a GREAT DEAL about customer acquisition and customer retention for the web sites I’ve managed. Some were highly vertical publishing web sites (trade magazines), a car rental dot com, or an international not-for-profit serving the energy exploration sector. IN EACH CASE INTRANETS HAVE BEEN EXCELLENT DEFENSIBLE SOURCES OF PAYING TRAFFIC. If I was dropped into an enterprise or consumer dot com play tomorrow this is among the first things I would assess… What’s our intranet marketing program look like? (It has that high an ROI).
Think about submarine warfare for a moment. These things have a distinct strategic advantage over just about every other delivery method there is. Competitors can’t easily detect them. They’re wildly effective for what they do. You might detect one but not the other one next door. They’re easily underestimated. They scale really well. Had to throw that in there :)
I’ve likened marketing via intranets to submarine warfare at a number of talks. Each time I get a few follow-ups afterwards… “I never thought of that. Clever.” Why more people don’t do this… I’ll never know. Beware: This strategy is beginning to get expensive though. The enterprise is becoming a contested battle ground now thanks to efforts like the Google Appliance and enterprise search. Intranet managers are just now beginning to realize what they have is highly valuable virgin real estate. Savvy managers are charging placement fees (and getting them) for those same outbound links we used to ask for and get for free. So, go into these waters with a bit of knowledge and know-how. In many cases the manager has no clue what that footprint is worth to you. And, you might not either. This implies you need to figure out your customer acquisition cost. This is a necessary exercise anyway. Don’t go above that baserate out of ignorance. At least go into it with your eyes open. I’m certain in most cases you’ll see appreciable and sustainable gains in your corporate sources of traffic and corresponding incremental sales gains. If you have a compelling reason for management to place you on their intranet you’re one step ahead. Perhaps corporate policy dictates use of your product/service. Great! If you’re in this situation RUN do not walk to that company’s intranet manager. NOW! In the link you provide to the intranet manager make sure you’re prepopulating form fields for their employees’ convenience (company name, corp id, address, etc). Perhaps you offer a sizable discount to that company’s employees. Things like this could obviate the charges discussed earlier. Point is, if you’re Joe Schmoe wanting a link to your car wash down the street… you’re probably not getting onto the intranet at all. If you come with some proprietary value. Well, that’s another matter. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS – Let the intranet manager know they have access to your site analytics as part of the deal. 75% of them won’t know what the hell you’re talking about (or care). The balance will say, “No shit!? No one else does that! At least not consistently.” And… they’ll bias more than a few times in your favor. This turns into affinity. Work it for all it’s worth! Especially if you’re helping them make their case back to upper management they are providing value to the mothership. It’s cheap. It’s underhanded. It’s submarine warfare baby! Always ask if there are internal email marketing opportunities. Text links in THOSE messages aren’t stellar on conversion… But, they do solidify your brand’s mindshare in that particular corporate environment (yet more submarine warfare).
I’ll share a truism based on my experience (not saying when or where). In a nine-month period over one-third of the traffic to a site I managed had 30+% of its traffic attributed to INTRANETS! And, guess what… Those sources produced more loyalty (repeat visits) than all search engine refered traffic. Now, you’re probably paying for trial through the search engines (most are) and that’s a necessary component of your overall program. But, if you’re seeing abnormally high loyalty spikes from free sources of traffic (particularly ones your competitor doesn’t know to emulate)… Why wouldn’t you do this? Emphasize it even!
Some other things you need to factor (and I’ll blog about these at some later date): Affiliate programs can be monster big for you; Thumb drives (yes, everyone has a few… go high end and put YOUR links on the media); SMS is an emerging method to increase reach/intimacy; RSS; Blogging (obvious but underutilized); Widgets; Facebook; MySpace; Twitter, Pownce; LinkedIn… Basically, all the social media out there warrants some kind of trial program. Collectively this adds up to incremental business. In some case you may just hit the Mother Lode and luck into a niche market. Stumbling into a good situation still counts.
Who was it said, “I’d rather be lucky than smart.” Yeah, me too.