Aggregates Producers Must Have an Online Presence and Manage it Well.
By Thomas J. Roach
Not long ago having a web presence with connections to social media was a novelty for most business. Then the Internet was seen as a business opportunity to reach tech-savvy publics. In the last five years many industries have seen the majority of their interaction with publics move online, and search engine optimization and an integrated social media presence have become a necessity. The question in 2012 for businesses, including aggregates producers, is not should they have an online presence, but how well can they manage their online presence.
Websites, blogs, Facebook pages, and LinkedIn need to be seen not as the online medium, but rather as separate online media. Each is a channel accessed for different reasons by different publics.
A company looking into the availability of sand and gravel might do a search and come upon a quarry website. Or if bids on a project have been received, a potential client company might check a quarry’s LinkedIn account to gauge the quality and reliability of the service and product. From a marketing perspective, each aspect of the online presence contributes something different to publics with different objectives and leads to or away from a sale.
Because of the limited number of potential clients and the heavy investment in sales teams making personal contacts, the need to bulk up the online presence to enhance marketing and sales may be less pressing in the aggregate industry. Yet there are some good reasons for making this investment now.
Digital marketing services are a bargain. Every major city has a booming online marketing industry with professional services for creating a diverse online presence. They can build websites, and set up and maintain blogs and Facebook and Twitter accounts. They can provide graphics and content, and they can coordinate all these digital elements to the objective of increasing sales.
Also, the rapid advancement of online technology has created a rare anomaly where recent graduates from college may be better prepared to provide these services than some of the marketing veterans who have been steeped in print technology for most of their careers. This means that the graduate looking for a $35,000-a-year salary may be worth as much or more than someone requiring twice the compensation.
Another incentive is that the online footprint is probably less expensive than its print counterpart. It can be adjusted with less effort and more quickly. And, most importantly, online information is interactive and is available 24 hours a day, and this gives it an advantage even over the personal visits from a sales team.
While marketing applications for the Internet are a growing concern for the aggregate industry, the public relations applications are already a necessity. Most community publics are now entrenched in digital networking. Philanthropic business organizations, community clubs and committees, and advocacy groups are all heavily invested in the digital environment.
Accessible and Responsive
Any organization that wants to manage its reputation needs to be accessible and responsive to online communities. The result of a good public relations effort can be reduced resistance if not support for business plans, and less money spent defending business decisions in court.
Many of the public relations strategies and tactics discussed in past columns can now be accomplished without leaving the office.
This is not to say that the need for face-to-face contact with customers and community publics is being eliminated by online communication technology. The point is that face-to-face interaction, printed news, television broadcasts, search engine optimization, blogging, and Facebook posts are all part of the new public sphere.
The successful business in the 21st century will use all these options strategically to access and be accessed by the right public at the opportune time to make connections that create goodwill and result in profits.