|Editor’s note: Skin Inc. magazine has re-introduced its Bulletin Board and will be utilizing many of the practices mentioned in this article throughout the new year. Please stay tuned to www.SkinInc.com for additional content, peer interaction and more!
Just when you think you have it all figured out in terms of marketing your business, some new technologies have come along to revolutionize your spa’s ability to promote itself to prospects and existing clients. And although most people have heard of these technologies by now—namely blogs and podcasts—few are taking full advantage of what these marketing mediums can offer.
Remarkably, as few as two years ago, blogs and podcasts were viewed as nothing more than places for opinionated people to rant and rave, or assert their viewpoints. But today, things have changed, and blogs and podcasts are the most explosive marketing vehicles to emerge since the Internet itself. Consider the facts: BusinessWeek magazine reports that more than 40,000 new blogs are popping up every day. And, in 2006, the number of podcast feeds exceeded the number of radio stations worldwide, according to The World Factbook, published by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
This means that you have several powerful marketing opportunities that require little to no out-of-pocket expenses. Use the following suggestions to make the most of your blogging and podcasting efforts.
The word “blog” is short for “Web log.” They are easy to use and simple to set up, and are a great format for promoting businesses. Think of a blog as a mini Web site on which you post comments regularly. They are a powerful medium for delivering information because, when they’re done correctly, the message comes across as informational and less biased. Consider the following key points.
Blogs enable you to get client feedback through an unfiltered medium. Sure, this can create some challenges, but if you get negative feedback on your blog, at least you can be aware of the issue and address it. So, in a sense, a blog is often like an instant focus group. Being receptive to client feedback on your blog positions your spa as being accessible and interested in client concerns. That’s a great selling point in today’s environment.
Search engines like blogs and display them at the top of the search results. Construct your blog properly by using key words within your entries that search engines will recognize. That way, when someone types a particular term about your business into a search engine, your blog will come up naturally in the results. This not only helps promote your business, but it also positions your spa as an industry leader.
Blogs are almost like an online community. Because of this, they offer a great way to talk about your company, its culture and any industry trends. Blogs provide easy forums for delivering information to clients about new treatments or offers, and for building relationships with clients. Likewise, if there was some sort of crisis occurring in the company, it’s a way to get the facts out there so you can deal with the situation quickly.
Reach out to people who will contribute to your blog. In other words, you can ask people from within your company to post entries, as well as outside experts or clients. Be careful though, because a blog makes it easy for a disgruntled team member to post information that should not be public knowledge, such as proprietary data or trade secrets. Therefore, if you allow employees to post entries, establish some control over the content.
Whatever you do, don’t create fake blog entries. Some companies with blogs may post entries posing as a client or outsider, and say wonderful things about the company. That approach usually backfires because people see through it. Be honest with all of your entries.
You can find a number of inexpensive or free blogging services online that can help you set up and maintain your blog.
A podcast is essentially your own radio show on the Web. It’s an extension of a blog, where you make your entry more personal because you’re actually speaking the words, not just typing them. Before you dismiss podcasts as something only kids listen to, take note: According to a comScore, Inc. study, people between the ages of 35–54 make up about half of podcast listeners, and they are more likely than average to download podcasts. As such, podcasts are a great choice for small businesses because they can help boost the company’s credibility and sales without having to invest much. Consider the following key points.
Think about a unique concept or angle for your show. Because this is essentially a radio show dedicated to your business, you’ll want to give information that relates to your spa or the spa industry that your prospects and listeners will find informative and entertaining. Address the challenges that your clients or prospects have and they will tune into your podcast.
Podcasts allow you to appeal to niche audiences. This is possible because you can discuss certain topics more in depth. A podcast can be any length—30–60 minutes is common—and you can address specific or even obscure topics that you know your clients will find interesting.
All you need are recording/mixing software and a microphone. This is all you need to actually create a podcast. Both of these items are usually installed on your computer, so there is no need to go to a recording studio. With the software, you can edit your podcast and include intro music. You can even put commercials into your podcast to sell your own products, or sell air space to your retail suppliers and include their commercials.
People can listen to your show whenever they want. Listeners only need an MP3 player, and more than 65 million people worldwide have them.
You can quickly become a leader in your industry. Potential and existing clients who listen to your podcast will likely think of you when they are in need of what spa services.
Make it easy for people to find your podcast. You can do that by submitting your podcast to different feed directories, such as FeedBurner.
Your way to profits
When it comes to blogs and podcasts, the key to success is to be informational. Give people a lot of relevant information in order to keep them reading or listening. Yes, maintaining a blog or doing a regular podcast takes time and discipline. But when you consider the amount of credibility and exposure to new clients these technologies provide, no business can afford not to use these tools as vital parts of their online marketing mix.