Four ways to use technology to keep your marketing efforts up to date
When you own your own business, it’s important to stay up to date on trends in your industry. While technology can be used in many ways to help your business, using it to gather news and information has never been easier or more powerful. Here are four ways I keep track of events and gain insight into news that has an impact on me — and on my business. They can easily be adjusted to your industry.
1. Aggregators. I quickly check aggregators of headline stories in my industry each morning. I also use more general aggregators to follow business news. For example, I check the Newseum’s site, which displays the front pages of newspapers from around the world. Search for an industry site first. However, if your line of business does not have a site devoted to industry news, there may be an opening for your firm to start one. Develop and maintain an aggregator on your site and you’ll be recognized as knowledgeable in your field — and you’ll get more traffic to your site.
2. Raw Feeds. So many organizations and individuals now have Twitter feeds. Even if you don’t plan to tweet, setting up an account and building lists of related posters gives you up-to-the-minute information on an industry or subject. You can get an instant read on trends currently surging in interest, and then put that knowledge to use in your marketing efforts.
3. Custom Feeds. Here’s another great alternative if you can’t find an aggregator for the industry or business subjects you need to stay up to date on. Set up a Google Alert, and on a daily or weekly basis you’ll get an e-mail of all the stories and links matching your search terms. For instance, I can get an e-mail when the terms “Wisconsin” and “small business” are both in a story. Using this service means I don’t need to rely on one paper or magazine to keep up. The possibilities are endless, and it’s free and easy to set up.
4. News about News. This is another great way to do market research on current events. It’s especially good if you don’t want to deal with Twitter. I check two sites daily to find trends that might have an impact on my business: Google Trends (the most searched-for terms and news items) and Yahoo! News (most popular and most e-mailed news stories). Sites like these can tell you what people are reading, searching for, and taking the time to e-mail — which is great market intelligence. They are tools you can use to target your marketing efforts at what consumers and the public are doing today.
This may seem like a lot to look at, but I find I can scan these sources for information in less time than it takes to read the local newspaper. It can replace old methods of market research that might give you out-of-date information and cost your firm valuable dollars that could be used for actual marketing efforts. Instead, you can harness technology to do free, real-time market research for your business.