It’s harder to keep a secret these days. Information that used to be inaccessible or hidden can now often be uncovered in a few minutes with a Google search and perhaps some social media connections. We can hide our searches with proxy servers and other devices to disguise who we are, if we don’t want marketers to data-mine our search observations and results. Even systems (based on DNS or IP address restrictions) designed to control access on national boundary grounds can be circumvented. Yesterday, for example, I used tunlr.net to trick a video streaming service provider into thinking I live in the U.S. rather than Canada. The result: (For which I disclosed my true identity and address, and provided my Canadian credit card account information so I can sleep at night knowing I wasn’t fraudulent); a saving of $50 because the service has determined that clients searching for the service from a U.S. IP address should pay $99 rather than $149 in Canada.
The question is how we use this internationalized and deep-research-research environment for our marketing and how it should influence our decisions. Here are some thoughts:
Our websites are important — very important
If our businesses arise on the radar, potential clients will search for us on the web most likely before communicating any further. So we want to make a great first impression. Of course, if we are smart about it, we can also make it easier for clients to discover us through effective search engine optimization (where generally the best thing you can do is provide useful, valuable content.) Great websites don’t need to be expensive and can be designed responsively so they appear well on mobile and tablet devices as well as regular computers. You can also improve access to assisted devices and, if you are comfortable with machine language translation (which isn’t too bad, actually) put a Google Translate link on your site to facilitate multi-language reading.
A few minutes of web and social media searching can help you discover gems of insight about your market and clients
Detective-like digging can provide you with insights and information that might not be totally obvious at first sight. I remember once unmasking “anonymous” scammers by tracking down obscure information through a small city U.S. public library database, and the South African land registry information site. The research tools and methods will vary, but they are a step beyond just searching for the relevant names and organizations in Google or on Facebook.
You don’t need to spend any or much money for these services
You should remember that the free resources won’t have much marketing power behind them. Services purporting to help you for a monthly fee are often relatively over-priced. On the other hand, even if you pay these fees, you’ll probably (if you use the services effectively) achieve far better results for far less money than conventional or traditional practices, such as the now virtually defunct Yellow Pages.