In the first two parts of my introduction to radiant marketing, the metaphor with the sun representing a business and the planets the customer, I've discussed the well-known pieces of online marketing: email and social media. But what happens when a comet (the next big thing) comes swooping through the solar system and disrupts our normal course of business? How are businesses supposed to handle the change the comet brings?
Businesses have enough to keep up with when it comes to their Web site, blog, email newsletters, Facebook Page, and Twitter feed. The barrage of new sites and services such as Foursquare, Gowalla, Yelp, or that yet-to-be-invented network is enough to send businesses ducking for cover. Fortunately, if you have a strong relationship with your customers, they will tell you what the next "big thing" is and guide you to where they want to connect with you online. You just have to make sure you're listening and paying attention to them.
The good news is you don't need to build an equivalent of the Arecibo radio telescope to listen to your customers. There are a number of passive and active ways you can get feedback without having to spend a ton of money or time:
Get regular feedback from your customers through online surveys. You could include a question about social media network usage in a transactional survey sent to customers after each purchase or in a larger "how are we doing?" survey sent quarterly or annually.
Monitor your social media channels to see what customers are saying about your organization, products, services, and trends in your line of business. This might sound like a money or time sink, but it doesn't have to be. Free tools such as HootSuite and NutshellMail allow you to keep tabs on your social media channels without having to sit in front of the computer all day. These services will monitor keywords, search terms, and Twitter mentions for you, delivering them to your inbox or presenting them to you when you log in.
Keep tabs on Web happenings using Google Alerts. It's impossible to keep up with every Web site on the planet looking for news about your line of business. Google Alerts will do the work for you, scouring the Web on a daily basis looking for mentions of the terms you choose. Every day (or at a frequency you choose) you'll get an email with the latest news for reading on your own schedule.
Remember, the goal of radiant marketing is to keep the sun (your business) shining brightly, the planets (your customers) orbiting around you, and new planets (prospects) coming into your gravitational field. Email marketing, social media marketing, and actively listening to your customers are the three keys to a successful radiant marketing strategy.