Online Marketing Blog

Web design resources and news for small business owners in Snohomish and around the world.

The evolution of marketing

The evolution of marketing

Marketing is changing for the better. How so? Over the last 20 years or so, marketing has become:

•More targeted

•More scalable

•More cost effective

•More valuable to the customer and to the general public

Marketing is becoming more targeted

It is obvious that a business would want to reach more prospects at a lower cost. To see a strong return on your marketing, you also need to think about what really makes a prospect a prospect. Sure, anybody could theoretically buy your product/service. But not everybody is likely to.

Think about the cost-structure of traditional marketing: you pay for impressions. Billboards & TV/radio ads are priced based on how many people are going to see them. Example: if you’re selling websites, you might be paying money to get the eyeballs of people who don’t own businesses and have no need for a website. Not exactly your target audience, is it?

Over the years, even TV/radio has become more targeted. The number of programs has increased, which means programs are seen by narrower audiences which probably reflect a more specific demographic. Print ads in magazines are another example of targeting. If you can run ads for a shotgun in a duck-hunting magazine instead of Sports Illustrated, you’re speaking to a more qualified audience.

But internet takes it to the next level. You don’t pay for airtime. Everything you add to your website is a fixed cost. You pay for it once and it works as long as you leave it up. And the audience is there because they’re interested, not because they’re being held hostage by the feature program.

Marketing is becoming more scalable

Additionally, internet marketing is scalable. In years of TV/radio/print/billboard, print was the most scalable form of advertising. Local businesses could pay a local magazine/paper to run ads for a local audience. But when it comes to TV/radio, not every business has 1) the resources to justify airtime, or2) a product/service with mass appeal.

But every business can afford a website. With a website (and all of the other resources and strategies that drive traffic to your site), you’re not paying to talk to people who don’t care. You’re also able to do what you can afford, instead of competing for airtime or print space against companies with bigger marketing budgets.

Beyond having a website, you can run Pay-Per-Click and use services like Facebook and Google display ads to reach only qualified leads. The advantage of these options is that you pay to reach to qualified leads, and you only pay for clicks or conversions. You don’t have to pray for a return on the impressions you’re buying. Because it’s scalable and targeted, modern marketing is more cost-effective.

The best marketing provides value for the customer

Modern marketing strategies, specifically online ones, let you provide information that is valuable even if they don’t buy your product/service. An example of this (and there’s more examples below) is running a blog. This is a way to (1) have on going content for SEO and (2) position yourself as a helpful and credible expert in your field. Blogging is, technically, a marketing strategy. But rather than ambush the customer and beg for their attention, it provides value to them. And this is before they’ve given you a dime.

In an almost-sneaky way, blogging informs your customers about how they can improve their lives...while increasing interest in your product. But there’s no pressure to buy. You’re offering your expertise for free. Whether they use your product or not, they’re better informed.

And this also goes a long way for your public image. Customers already understand that you know a lot more about your field than they do. They appreciate you sharing your expertise, and they intuitively understand that it costs you time and money to do so.

Simply put, this is a form of marketing that leads with value. And it ties in nicely with the sales principle of reciprocity, which says that providing value to somebody makes them feel an urge to do business with you. This is well detailed in books on sales and persuasion, such as the works of Dr. Robert Cialdini. And it makes perfect sense. Why wouldn’t you be receptive to somebody who believes in their value proposition enough to provide value for free? With traditional marketing, you pay to brag about your product, which (you believe) will help people improve their lives. With content, you provide valuable info that will help people improve their lives --- and inspire them to do business with you.

The new frontier of advertising

Online marketing changes the competitive landscape. Marketing has always been necessary to earn a living; we just haven’t necessarily always called it that. Even in the days of driving cattle over the trail to eastern markets, major outfits relied on their reputation to get an edge on the small guy.

Marketing can simplified as “making sure the customer knows (1) that your product exists, and (2) why he should buy from you instead of a competitor. ”Now that marketing is customizable, scalable, and targeted, small/local businesses are able to get a strong ROI on their marketing. On Madison Avenue, marketing is a high-dollar investment that offers a stronger ROI to major companies with a massive customer base.

The cost of marketing has been a barrier to entry. Those who could afford and benefit from large scale campaigns had a competitive advantage for consumer dollars. But the internet has changed that.

So here are a few ways you can take advantage of it, by leveraging your greatest asset: your expertise.

Ways to leverage your expertise, online and offline

•Run a blog

•Build resource pages on your website

•Publish E-books or books

•Run a podcast

•Publish social media posts with tips, tricks and expert insights

•Run a paper newsletter (E.g. a handout that you keep on the sales counter)

•Be talkative and helpful, and encourage all of your team members to be

The key to coming up with messaging that provides value is to write out your talking points. This is straightforward. Here are a few prompts to work with:

•Industry news and updates

•Innovations in tech in your field


•Price/value comparisons

For a longer list of blog topics, you can see this post from a while back. Remember, everything that you’ve learned about your field would take a layman years to learn...They don’t know what they need to know, let alone where to look. You can provide big value just by telling them the few specific parts that are relevant to their best interests.


This is marketing in the Information Age. And despite the fact that, 20 years later, everybody has finally accepted that they need a website, not everybody is making the most of it.

Yet consumers are going to the internet first, for one simple reason: it serves their needs better. That means the door is open wide for businesses who are willing to set themselves apart by really investing in online marketing. We believe local businesses should see online marketing not as a necessity, but as an opportunity.