Have you ever seen a manager of a restaurant or retail store walking around the establishment? There are different reasons for this but one of the main reasons business managers and owners do this is to eavesdrop on their customers. They want to know what customers like, what they don’t like and what they wish was being offered. Being active in forums is the Internet marketer’s way to eavesdrop on customers and potential customers. Forums offer a wealth of information for the Internet marketer in much the same way as trolling the aisles of the brick and mortar establishment benefits the owner or manager.
Give and Get Advice
Forums are an ideal place to exchange ideas with other Internet marketers. You’ll learn a lot from the mistakes and successes of others and they’ll learn from you too. Just like business relationships in the brick and mortar world, you can forge relationships in the virtual world that will aid you in your business endeavors.
Internet marketers talk about the problems they’re having with websites, search engines, rankings, SEO, products, and customers. They bounce ideas off of each other when they’re looking for solutions. Most of them are happy to help a fellow marketer who posts a problem and they enjoy sharing their success stories. You can learn a lot from reading and posting in forums that can lead to a boost in your sales.
Your regular presence and posts that are geared toward your site or product will no doubt generate interest from others in the forum. Some will visit your website just to see what you’re talking about. Some of those clicks are bound to turn into sales you might not have had without posting in the forum in the first place.
As long as you’re not breaking any rules, include a link to your site when you post. Then when you intrigue other members of the forum, they can easily click on your link to see what all the fuss is about. If you’re debuting a new site, ask other members to take a look to see what they think. You will undoubtedly receive valuable feedback.
Evaluate the Market
Being an active member of a forum that caters to your niche is an excellent way to evaluate the potential market for your product. You’ll see and hear the problems of other posters and you’ll also get a look at your competition. If someone else in the forum reports little or no success with a particular product, you may gain valuable market information by tuning in.
Being privy to others’ failures will give you valuable information the same way as learning about their successes will. You’ll be able to see what is working as well as what isn’t.
Every forum has its share of lurkers; those that are interested enough to read the posts, but who don’t often contribute to the conversation. Remember these lurkers as you are posting. Realize that every post you make has the potential to be a reflection on your business, and that can be a negative or a positive reflection. Always conduct yourself as if you were walking the floor of your brick and mortar business with customers all around. Have something interesting to say and reply to others, even if it’s just a short congratulatory note to another member. As time goes on, others will recognize you and you’ll build trust as you build your business.