There seems to be a commonly recurring theme in the blog posts recently about how important it is to talk to and listen to your customers. It really is not all about SEO if you want to win business, market share and higher search engine rankings – it is about adopting a holistic policy to marketing online that hits all of your potential customers and audience’s buttons.

Do they want to talk on the phone or do they prefer email? Do you actually know what your customers prefer? Do they want to see a live person and ask questions or do they want to peruse your FAQ, manuals, How to guides etc online at their leisure? Do you offer all the potential choices so that each customer can interact with you and your company how they choose to, rather than a limited set of choices that may not be to that potential customer’s taste?

Years before Facebook etc, I fell over Cyworld – (this is the link to the US version as the original Korean site is too hard for the average non-Korean speaker to work out!). You can basically create your own virtual existence, there is a fantastic monetization method for Cyworld to generate real world cash from virtual world spending, and bearing in mind that Cyworld is now 10 years old, it was waaaaay ahead of its time.

What fascinated me was the involvement of certain savvy businesses. The site was the world’s first social network, it looks totally bizarre to our eyes – too fanciful and cartoony, and yet here were businesses playing the game.  They had got in there, created mini-hompies (mini homepages) and were engaging their potential customers in live chat, video conferencing, competitions, give aways, discussions about products, you name it. (You need to remember that Korea has one of the best networks in the world so bandwidth for them is not an issue and they take things like video conferencing as a given and have done for years.)

The point is though that most Western businesses just haven’t got this yet. Still. A decade later.

You need real-time interaction with your customers. Most business websites still have an olde worlde contact number on their site. Very few have yet added Live person text chat, let alone webcams etc so customers can see who they are talking to.

So, today’s task is to investigate TinyChat. The potential of this free tool for ANY business is enormous. If you don’t get it immediately for your business, consider these options:

* Run a once a week webinar or chat where consumers can talk to a techie, a sales rep, the CEO of the company, a real live person. Let them voice their concerns, ask their questions, give you feedback on your products, service, website etc. Make it a two way conversation.

* Let existing customers persuade potential ones of the benefits of your product. Tie it in to your affiliate program so your virtual sales reps can earn money from their involvement.

* Struggling to get a focus group together to review a product? Do it online through TinyChat. Who needs to rent a room in a hotel or conference venue when they can all sit in the comfort of their own homes and talk to each other online?

* Hold a conference for your sales reps or affiliates dotted around the country so they can share what they have learnt about selling your product, the competition, difficulties with marketing collateral, strategies that work etc.

* Do you sell information products? Hold a brain storming session and find out what people actually want to know and where this overlaps with your experience. Then get writing!

I could come up with ideas of how to use Tinychat for ever, for any business. And it’s free.Set up a room, tweet to your followers that you will be holding a session on xyz that you know will be of interest, plan it so it is interesting and engaging, and have a pile of links/white papers/coupons/money off offers etc ready to share with them that meet your core goals, and away you go.

If this doesn’t create a buzz amongst your customers and differentiate you from your competition, read the blog tomorrow for another idea for any business! There are hundreds of high tech opportunities for online marketing available to play with ……..

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ClickThrough is a digital marketing agency, providing search engine optimisation, pay per click management, conversion optimisation, web development and content marketing services.