Marketing columnist Dave Bodle, associate publisher of Leisure Group Travel, gives tips on sorting through the online marketing advice and information that clutters everyone’s inbox

A good friend blames the Golf Channel for everything that’s wrong with his game. From the tee box to the last putt, if it doesn’t go well it’s the fault of that television channel. He claims that with their continuous lessons, it just messes him up. Today they tell him to hit the driver this way. Tomorrow it will be a different message.

Of course, he says this all in jest. Like every golfer, his main interest is game improvement. My friend will keep taking tips from the Golf Channel. So, what does my friend’s story have to do with marketing?

The Golf Channel understands and programs to their viewer’s need for game improvement. For your business there is a plethora of online marketing advice promising to help you advance. The challenge is to sort through the mix of websites, e-newsletters, blogs, social media and tutorials, each promising the game improvement we seek.

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Looking for tips on how to maximize your sales team’s production? No problem, there’s plenty of info available. Need some direction on streamlining your customer service? You’ll be overwhelmed with suggestions. It’s a cluttered “information marketplace,” one that can definitely foster information overload.

Here are two tips for weeding through the clutter

  1. Do not ask me which information source is the best. Frankly, I have no idea. I’d require knowledge and understanding of your specific needs. I don’t have that background, but you do. Here’s where to start. Take an honest inventory. First, look at your defined area of responsibility. Although not politically correct, stay in the box. If your responsibility is social media, stay away from sales tutorials. More about this later. Second, determine where advice could be most helpful. In other words, where do you need game improvement?Allow me to use my destination management company as a case study. We’ve developed a fairly significant list of e-newsletter subscribers from our website. Now, we need to develop a program. Even with my travel writing experience, it was necessary to learn what e-newsletter subscribers wanted to read. A quick Google “enewsletter advice” search returned 1.2 million results. On the first page alone we found insightful articles, examples and free subscriptions to advice columns. Our e-newsletter program will be better for the effort.
  1. Avoid overloading your inbox. We are inquisitive when it comes to looking at ways to improve our business. There’s certainly enough information available to help us. Sources come recommended to us from trusted friends and colleagues. Social media encourages us to join groups that fit our interests and follow the discussions. Aggressive marketers of online advice present captivating offers of their services. That’s exactly where the problem often exists and what we need to avoid.Let me share my own story. I’m not the busiest guy in the world, but what I do for Premier Travel Media, my destination management company and odd projects fills my days. Last December as Christmas approached and things slowed down, I realized how many e-newsletters, blogs and social media posts filled my inbox and cell phone. Some were filling my inbox daily. Obviously my inability to say no had caused this overload. I had emails from four months back and posts I didn’t know how to delete! It was time to clean house and unsubscribe.Were a half dozen social media and blogs and a couple of sales e-newsletters really necessary? The message is simple. Stay focused on your immediate need and purpose. Sales input? Important. Social media input? Important. My short-term need, though, was doing a good e-newsletter for my subscribers. Once I have that under control, I’ll move onto other areas of need.

Both of these tips deal with selecting online resources that provide game improvement for a single business focus. Our suggestion does not imply you can eliminate multi-tasking. Our advice is simply to take a look at where game improvement is needed and use just one or two online resources to avoid information overload.

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