Posted: January 24, 2014
10 Tips To Successful Niche Forum Advertising
Follow these steps to market your company and products to potential customers within a truck or SUV community forum.By Dan Sanchez
Many truck accessory manufacturers and retailers like the idea of marketing directly to niche website forums. Forums specific to a particular make, model truck or SUV, are a great place to promote products and get feedback from actual vehicle owners. But there are some things you should know before trying to approach potential customers in an open online environment like this. Here are ten basic tips to follow, that can ensure you of a successful marketing venture into an online community forum.
1) Advertise with a banner and a sponsored section. Members will appreciate your support of their community. Your sponsored forum will also make it easy for them to post questions directed to your company's products, while also making it easy for you to access all of them from one location.
2) Be the real you. Don't try to pretend you're just another forum member, when you're actually the president or marketing manager of the company you work for. People get very suspicious about posts that lean toward one brand or another. If you're discovered, you will greatly damage your company's credibility as well as your own.
3) Don't always boast about your products. Keep in mind this is a community. Your success in the forum will depend on your participation on a variety of topics. People want to build a relationship with you and your company. So it's important for you to become an actual member of the community, and that you're not there to just try and sell them something.
4) Offer exclusive discounts. The community likes to feel like they're special, so if there's a possibility of offering a discount that's exclusive to the community, they'll most likely want to take advantage of it.
5) Be polite to the product bashers. It happens all the time, a forum member installs your product wrong, or had a bad confrontation with one of your retailers or sales reps. The result is that they'll use the forum to rant about the product. In any event, it's always best to take the high road and be polite. If the bashers still hate your products, even after you've done everything in your power to try to please them, it's always best to apologize for their particular situation and extend an open invitation to seek help from you or someone else in the company. In the end, the community will see that you were professional, polite, and will likely write off that forum member as a jerk.
6) Build confidence with prompt replies. Questions posted to you, or on your sponsored section of the forum, shouldn't take days or weeks to reply. Taking too long to reply will also cause the forum to think you don't care. If you're heading on vacation or will be away at a trade show, indicate that in a post before you leave. This way, they'll realize you're out of reach and can contact them once you return.
7) Ask for input. Getting forum communities to participate in your marketing is a great way to brand and promote products. Involve them in things like helping to name a new product, or offer to let local members come by your place of business on a "special day" to take a tour and get input on new products still under development.
8) Consult with the webmaster. If you're not sure about a particular post or promotion that you want to introduce to the community, contact the webmaster and see what he or she would think would be the best way to approach them.
9) Get members to post images. Ask forum members who use your products, to post photos of their vehicles onto your sponsored section. Forum members love to show off, so this is a great way to build additional branding within the community. It also allows those who are considering purchasing your product, to see what it looks like, and that other members trust and use your products.
10) Dedicate your time wisely. Marketing to a variety of niche communities can be extremely time consuming. So don't get in over your head by participating in multiple forums at once. Try only one first, and dedicate only a certain amount of time each day to the forum. First thing in the morning and last thing before you leave are great ways to not miss posts or comments. Try to be as consistent as possible and work it into your daily schedule among all your other tasks. Soon you'll get the hang of how to manage your time wisely in a niche community, while still trying to run your company.