I am not going to cover social media today, since my purpose is to back track a bit further than the listening stage of developing a social media marketing program; which is the first thing you need to do before stepping your big toe into the social media waters. Really you need to understand your customer and buyers (i.e., prospects).
Today, more than ever before, the customers and buyers are out there using the Internet to find solutions to their problems. They "Google" this phrase, or "Bing" that term. Trouble is do you really know what the phrases and terms they are using actually are? You can guess, but you really are too close to the forest to see the trees. Time after time I see web sites designed around your products and services. Nobody cares about your products and services except you.
Doing the research up front to find out what problems "buyers" are search for is crucial to understanding the "keywords and phrases" they are using. Buyer persona research helps you understand this untapped market, who they are, what they do, where they hang out and how they solve their problems using the Internet.
Two people I can highly recommend are David Meerman Scott and Adele Revella, and their blog posts are: WebInkNow.com and BuyerPersona.com (also noted in my blog roll). Both of whom I have met through Pragmatic Marketing and have great admiration for. I encourage you to read what they have to say and you will be introduced to a new way of thinking. Fortunately I had the pleasure of meeting them both and attending their seminars.
Bottom line is all the marketing strategies and tactics in the world are useless unless you first understand who you are trying to reach. Buyer persona research will help you discover the words, phrases they use and where you can get engaged in conversations with them. The keywords you gather should be used in your web site home page, and in every other electronic and non-electronic marketing vehicle to resonate with your market and increase your sales. Yes, you can still increase your sales even during economic downturns as people and companies are still buying and solving problems. Question is, can your company be found?