Maximizing the tools offered by the Internet to promote your business is hot right now. It’s not surprising: it offers low-cost options and allows you to target your market directly. However, Julie Tañada, a professor specializing in marketing at De La Salle University-Manila, cautions, “Categorizing social or new media is a gray area. Some consider it as mainstream and therefore, part of above-the-line promotions.”
[related|post]She concedes that “the cheapest way to market one’s business is online. You can post on Facebook or Multiply, which is literally free. You can also create your own Web site or sell at sites like sulit.com.” Tañada, however, issues a caveat: “Of course, you rely on your connections when you use social networks. As for websites, you may get false inquiries.”
Arvin Garcia Gray, a lecturer for marketing and entrepreneurship at the Institute of Management, University of the Philippines-Baguio, agrees that new media may be exciting, but they also must be handled with caution. “Social networking sites are just beginning to be used by business owners in the Philippines. Care and creativity should be the rule in using it.” He points out that as of November of 2010, the number of registered Facebook users in the country hit almost 20 million. From a marketing perspective, this figure “represents the ability to reach about a fifth of the Philippines’s population through a single Web site.” And when it comes to Facebook “friends,” quantity may edge out quality because a large social network means an extensive marketing reach.
Relying solely on above-the-line approaches or below-the-line methods may ultimately be ill-advised for startups and small businesses. The former may bust your budget, while the latter may create a quick whimper instead of a steady buzz. Instead, Gray recommends a good mix of options from both systems that could be “to interact and communicate with current and potential customers.” You can mix and match traditional ads with:
• Word-of-mouth referrals;
• Simple flyers and posters;
• Free hosting websites;
• An eBay account;
• A calling card which lists your contact details;
• Having a free and small street-corner kiosk for selling; and
• Doing “free tastes” or product sampling.