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The 90/10 Rule for Successful Online Marketing

marketing a business onlineToo many businesses smack readers in the face with their pumped-up sales approach online. Such an approach turns off more potential customers than the business may realize. Potential customers don’t often tell businesses why they left: they simply click “unsubscribe” at the bottom of the newsletter or unfollow the business on social media. Successful online marketing takes more effort than that.


Identify Target Customers’ Needs


When a business looks to market its product or service online, it should first identify its target customer. Secondly, it should identify those customers’ needs and desires.


Too often, though, businesses choose “post a link to a sales page for a product that will meet those needs” as their next step. Yes, there may be a few customers ready to hit the “buy” link. Yet are there others out there who might fall through the cracks—or worse, get turned off by constant posts about products or services for sale? Too often, probably so.


Provide Target Customers with Usable Information 90 Percent of the Time


That’s why smart businesses use the 90/10 rule for successful online marketing. Ninety percent of a business’s posts should offer usable, actionable information to potential customers, not items for sale, to achieve success marketing online.


Many potential customers may only need information to help them solve a problem. They’re not ready to buy just yet. But, if a company provides the information they need—when they need it—that company has just positioned itself as both an authority in the field and a helpful resource. When that potential customer is ready to buy—the company who provides information that has helped her or him solve past problems is more likely to get that customer’s business.


As’s chief marketing officer, Amy Vernon, puts it, “people are not going to come around often to check out what you have to say if you’re talking about yourself all the time.” Instead, Vernon recommends that businesses share content that their potential customers may be able to use to make their lives easier or their work more profitable. At least 90 percent of a business’s social media and blog posts, as well as their emails, should follow these guidelines.


The 90/10 Rule Applies Offline, Too


This goes for offline marketing, too. At trade shows and promotional events, consider offering useful information. Instead of trying to hard-sell the attendees, listen to their needs. Respond accordingly. If the potential customer’s need can be met by one of the company’s products, fine. Yet if all the person needs is information or education, provide that. All they need to remind them about who offered that advice to them is a simple business card attached to a low-cost promotional item: a pen, a sticker, or a bottle of water with the company’s label on it.


If a company hasn’t the time to write informative blog posts and answer potential customers’ questions, it’s time to find someone who can tackle the job. Just think what potential revenue these people can bring into the company as it rises as an authority in its field in the eye of its target customer base. To look at it another way, what about the missing 90 percent? The customers who need that information may just click “unsubscribe” and head off to a company who will provide that information.


In the end, online marketing can make or break a business. Branding a new business, whether online or offline, takes time and planning. Identifying the needs of prospective customers or clients is one piece of the puzzle. Providing useful information is another piece, and even though these are only two pieces to the puzzle, they are important.


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