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Forums And The Coin Of Marketing

Dec 28, 2007
Many online businesses view forums as a means of marketing goodwill to their customers, and it can do just that. However, forums are equipped with two sides, standard.

If you make a forum available to site visitors you have accepted one side of the coin. You can, in fact, utilize that forum as a means of marketing trust with your customers. Feedback is an important component of a forum and this mechanism allows for the free flow of thought and allows every individual a voice.

This has always been rare in customer relations. Typically it is only the glowing testimonials that are shared with site visitors while any negative feedback is generally inaccessible. Forums allow both, but you may find that others who will champion your product or service may refute a disgruntled comment by one individual.

But negative comments in a forum also allow you to be very public about how you handle customer complaints. This scenario provides the opportunity to turn a potential negative into a highly visible positive experience for consumer and business alike.

The other side to the forum coin is trust marketing on a personal basis. What I mean by that is you may do well to find a select number of industry related forums to participate in. While this idea is not new most business owners who use a forum do not use it in a specific enough way.

Here's what typically happens. A business owner signs up for an industry forum and makes a few posts with a fair amount of marketing information in their signature line. The hope is that this 'free' advertising will convince other forum members to come to the business website. If this simplistic view of forum marketing is how you approach the subject it can often come across as disingenuous or insincere. In fact, on some forums it may even be considered spamming.

If you, as a business owner, use a forum with links back to your website embedded in your signature line you should seriously consider engaging yourself in the forum community as your prime objective. Respond with helpful information when an individual posts a question you are qualified to answer. Include links to helpful articles when appropriate and act like a member of the community instead of that guy that puts sales flyers on car windows - obnoxious and disliked.

Forums are a great way to reach out to existing customers, but the use of peripheral forums can help establish trust with those who may have never heard about you or your company.

In a way similar to a blog you can use these industry specific forums as a means of allowing others to catch a sense of both your personality and expertise. When you actually engage in the community you signed up to be a part of you will get to know many of the personalities on the forum and become a trusted source for information as you encourage those who may need the advice and information you can offer.

Use forums as a means of marketing your site, but don't forget there are TWO powerful ways to get your message out utilizing forums. Make use of both.
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