“Listening is a key that will open a door of opportunities.  Collaboration can build a strong foundation.  Giving closes the deal.”  -Maricel Custodio

This is my marketing mantra.  Something I acquired from my years of negotiating when I was in the real estate industry. Notably, it transcends all cultural barriers since I used to deal with a lot of foreign investors.  My clients were very multicultural; from Asians, Europeans, Americans and Australians too.  Most of them are either CEO’s, Country Managers, Presidents or Business Owners.  They were the ones who taught me the art of listening.

Due to their position in the company, time is very important to them.

After a brief introduction, I always start our meeting by asking them what their real estate requirements are. Then I listen.  This gives me the leverage to present the properties that would best suit their needs. Then, I collaborate with them giving them the upper hand to shortlist their choice. This allows me to learn a little bit more about their wants. Then, I close the deal by giving to them what best suits their needs and make them happy too… because I’ve delivered something that they want.

It’s been awhile since I last practiced in the real estate industry. But, the same applies to online marketing.

Listen to what your target market needs. Are they price sensitive? Are they after quantity or quality? What do they like about your website?  What irritates them?  Once you listen to what they have to say, then you can collaborate with your consumers on how to make the customer experience better.  In the end, you both give…you deliver the product and your customer gives you a sale.

The same applies to SEM, SEO and Social Media. You listen and research what your consumer wants.  What do they search for? Then you build your keywords based on how your product or service can complement these needs and wants.

Moreover, traditionally Search Engine Marketing (SEM) refers to the use of paid placement, contextual advertising, and paid inclusion…but in today’s context these are just some of the tools that you use to achieve your SEM goals.

Here is a good example of an SEM plan:

Through trial and error you will be able to see how SEM drives highly targeted visitors to your online exhibitions. The following are the steps to a successful SEM plan:[21]

  1. Research your target audience.
  2. Set your online goals and key performance indicators.
  3. Build an initial list of important keywords that represent your current and most relevant content and potential content.
  4. Validate your keywords by testing and refining them with your keyword selector tools such as Yahoo Keyword Selector, Google Keyword Selector, Google Trends and Keyword Discovery.
  5. Check your current ranking.
  6. Optimise the website by improving your web design, architecture and web page content.
  7. Pursue link-building and partnerships.
  8. Colonize the Web by publishing and circulating it in wiki, blogs, and video and picture sites(e.g. Flickr and Youtube).
  9. Get in the news such as Google News with RSS feeds.[22]
  10. Install good tracking software, and track and analyze your performance for better results.

(Source: WikipediaFeeny, Daniel. “Your website: greater visibility and return of investment through search engine marketing”.)

To add, would you rather be in the centre of attention (Search Results) or just the sidelines (Adwords)?  PPC and Adwords do drive traffic but SEM plan numbers 6,7,8 and 9 drives repeat traffic and lasts longer.

PPC, Adwords, paid placement, contextual advertising, and paid inclusion are great SEM tools that you should use as part of your SEM plan,  but if you listen to your consumers…you don’t need to be a techie  to realize that what keeps them coming back are the content and customer experience.

In closing, here is a video of why you can’t simply ignore Social Media as part of your Search Engine Marketing.

The example used in the video is something that any ordinary consumer can relate to…who is by the way, who you are trying to sell to.

That is the beauty of social media…it is in a language that your consumer can understand.




Photo: Flickr – Buddawiggi