As large corporations gain firm footholds in Hawaiʻi, small to medium sized kamaʻāina businesses scramble to compete. Now more than ever, successful Hawaiʻi-based business ventures require diligent marketing strategies. For many kamaʻāina companies, expensive in-house marketing campaigns are entirely out of the question. Consequently, business owners are turning to affordable third-party online marketing companies. While this move can yield long-term sales returns, the question on everybody’s mind is, “which company do I use?”
For starters, consider working with a kamaʻāina marketing firm. Try to avoid using services located in the mainland, because as effective as they might be there, they are unfamiliar with the kamaʻāina client. Personalizing marketing efforts is essential for an effective online marketing strategy in Hawaiʻi, and you need someone who knows the lay of the land. Whether you are located in Oʻahu, the Big Island, Kauaʻi, Maui, Molokaʻi, or Lānaʻi, a kamaʻāina marketing service can better serve your kamaʻāina business.
Do your research. Some online marketings companies are startup ventures, only within the past six months or so, and while many will make it, some will not. The last thing you want is to have a company launch an online marketing campaign for your business, go out of business itself, and leave you dead in the water. Poho. This second part is easier than you might think. Use common sense in determining which companies you think will be around for a while. Visit the company in question’s website. Make sure it is up-to-date. If they have a business blog, scan through the posts see that it is regularly maintained. Find out about the company’s history. If you find a company you like, but your questions are not fully answered, contact them directly. You have nothing to lose by inquiring.
Again, make sure you have done research. Only call a company if you are genuinely interested in the services they list on their website. Remember that the person you speak to is trying very hard to get you to invest in their offer. Be smart, akamai. It will be much easier for them to lure you under questionable pretenses if you have not done your homework. You are a paying customer, and as such, you want to make sure you get the most for your money. The goal here is net profit for your business.
When searching for the right company, make sure that certain services are listed on the company website. For example, content production is a service that is proven to increase sales. Content is any web material that represents your business on the Internet: articles, copywriting, video production, marketing emails, photographs and logos. Most of these will appear on your company’s website, blog, or social media pages, and will ultimately brand your business online. For this reason, consider working with a kamaʻāina marketing service that lists “Content” as one of its primary services. Also be sure to poke around the company website to find out if they offer website hosting, construction and maintenance, especially if you need help building a good website.
Other essential services are Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Social Media Management, Online Advertising, and Online Reputation Management (ORM). An online marketing campaign must be inclusive of SEO and ORM. The former improves your company’s performance on search results, giving it an authoritative presence on the web. The latter polishes your company’s online reputation by highlighting positive feedback, while tactfully responding to negative feedback or wrongful claims about your kamaʻāina business.
Online advertising, particularly through Google AdWords, Email Marketing, and web banners is also an extremely effective method for spreading your company image online, and improving sales. AdWords and email advertising help refine the target audience to a local demographic, which is a huge help to kamaʻāina businesses. Social media management, likewise, helps you narrow down the scope of your marketing efforts to Hawaiʻi clients, while letting you converse back and forth with other prospective consumers. Facebook and Twitter also make it possible to establish a lasting relationship with clients, and create consumer loyalty.
In summary, the online marketing company you choose should contribute to your vision. Working with a kamaʻāina marketing company that understands your business, and its clients, can generate tangible improvements in sales. Always be sure to read up on the services that a particular company offers; SEO, ORM, content production, online advertising, and social media management are particularly effective. Otherwise, do your research, trust your intuition, and over time, the online marketing company you choose will become a valuable hoapili to your kamaʻāina business.