"You Tube? Best marketing tool EVER!"
"If you're in business, you absolutely, positively have to be on MySpace."
"All the best marketers have blogs...or podcasts...or streaming video on their websites..."
Sound familiar? It seems as if a day doesn't go by without some new technological tidbit, guaranteed to transform the business world as we know it, is making all the papers. Blogging is hot one day, passe the next. You Tube is the place you want to be -- unless you don't want to be there, of course!
How is a Nichepreneur to make any sense of it all? How do you identify what tools are best to promote your products and services and which are destined to be no more than a flash in the pan phenomenon, long on promise and short on follow-through?
More importantly, how are you going to find the time to figure it all out? When you're busy running your business, finding the hours needed to learn about a new technology can be challenging enough -- spending all of that time and energy only to discover that something is really not for you is a frustration you don't need!
Save time and minimize frustration by adopting this six step process for approaching new technology. Followed consistently, this process will allow you to identify viable promotion opportunities, discern which ones appear to have sticking power, streamline the learning process, and adopt best practices right from day one!
Step One: Don't Believe the Hype
Enthusiastic, cheerleading-style articles touting the latest tech tool as the solution to all of your marketing challenges are fun to read -- but they seldom provide enough information to make a solid business decision!
Put yourself on a short rein, and don't let enthusiasm for the flavor-of-the-week be your only guide. Do your research. Discover what demographics are adopting the technology being touted: the audience for Twitter-powered microblogs is different than the crowd downloading podcasts onto their cell phones.
Longevity is definitely a relative term in this environment: internet trends move at the speed of light. However, longevity is key in determining when a fad has staying power: blogging has been around for years now, and has proven business applications, while other, newer tech applications have yet to prove themselves. Consider if you want to be on the cutting edge, taking the risk to try out the new tech and benefit by being an early adopter, or if you'd be more comfortable going with a known and proven platform.
Step Two: Seek Out Reputable Resources to Serve as Guides
While you're doing your due diligence and researching this new technological tool, you'll want to pay special attention to where your information is coming from. Not all resources are equally valuable. Look to those individuals who are consistently cited as an Expert by others: it's a good idea to have a rule of three for this. If three disparate sources all reference the same individual or work, there's a better than fair chance that that resource has some real value that you can benefit from.
Remember, you don't have to limit yourself to online research, although that's often the quickest and easiest way to find information. Check print media: if a tool is well established enough to have books devoted to it, chances are it can be used to help you promote your business effectively.
Step Three: Identify What You Want To Accomplish
Set a clear goal for yourself. This goal needs to be specific, quantifiable, and realistic. Rather than saying, "I want to be on You Tube because everybody's there!" consider, "I will post four videos a year to You Tube, each one focused on a different segment of my area of expertise."
Knowing what you want to do is essential. Having an end objective allows you to figure out what skills you need to concentrate on and which ones are irrelevant. For example, if you want to build your business through blogging, you can do so without ever once picking up a book on video podcasting. Instead, you can focus on learning how to write a great blog entry, how to promote your blog, and strategies to raise your blog's visibility.
This step allows you to save time. You only have a limited amount of time to devote to this new tool, so you want to be efficient.
Step Four: Learn the Vocabulary
Make life easy for yourself! Before you start diving into the hows, whys, and how-comes of any new area of study, take an hour to familiarize yourself with the vocabulary you're going to need. Every technology has its own language, specific to what you're working on.
Think of this vocabulary as similar to the professional jargon you use when conversing with colleagues. It's likely that your conversation might be unintelligible to the average listener, unless you took the time to define and explain the terminology you're using.
Chances are you don't have someone there to explain confusing terms or unfamiliar language to you -- and if you try to forge ahead, hoping to pick up the meaning in context, you'll find yourself frustrated and no closer to achieving your goals. It may seem like wasted time to focus on vocabulary early in the process, but language makes comprehension possible!
Step Five: Don't Reinvent the Wheel
No matter what your goal or objective is, there's a better than fair chance that someone else has already done it first. Look for examples that resonate with you: a blog you'd like to emulate, podcasts that inspire you, You Tube videos that have you green with envy.
Study these examples carefully. What about them works'? Make a list of those things you'd like to adopt for your own message. Obviously, you don't want to make a carbon copy of someone else's work, but there's nothing wrong after modeling yourself after people who have done a great job communicating their message effectively!
Step Six: Ask Questions & Embrace Expertise
Nichepreneurs are often convinced that because they're in business for themselves, they have to do everything themselves. As a corollary to this, there's a common misconception that one should know everything possible about running a business from day one and never need any help!
You need to put that attitude behind you! Save time, energy, and effort by asking questions! There are a number of platforms to do this online: entire web communities have sprung up for individuals who want to build a better blog, create great You Tube videos, and more. Find a community you're comfortable with -- this might require a few minutes with Google -- and ask questions. This is often the quickest way to find information and, as an added bonus, start forming relationships with potential colleagues, clients, and peers.
Technology is evolving at light speed. Every day there's something new. There's no way one person can keep up with it all, which means we have to pick and choose which tools are the best to promote our businesses. Be critical, implement this six step process consistently, and you'll find that you can have the best of both worlds: adopting the latest, greatest tools to promote yourself without wasting a lot of time and energy!