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Arizona companies finding new ways to reach customers

Arizona companies from builders, bakers and beer brewers are using online tools such as YouTube, blogging and text messaging to boost their bottom lines.

Adoption of Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and other social-media applications in the business world is not surprising given the rising number of consumers who flock to the Internet to gather information.

Seven out of every 10 Americans find their news online, said Fionn Downhill, chief executive of Elixir Interactive, a Scottsdale-based digital-marketing agency. “When you use online marketing, you have people’s eyeballs,” she said.

Marketers say such tools, including podcasts, social-networking sites and blogs, are valuable because often they allow consumers to interact directly with a brand. That’s a stark departure from traditional marketing and advertising in which companies present their message to consumers, who have little opportunity to interact with a company’s brand.

Experts also point out that social media has in some ways leveled the playing field between small businesses and their larger competitors. Big firms have big war chests to spend on multi-pronged marketing campaigns.

Many of the most popular social-medial tools are free, allowing smaller companies to command as much of a presence in the online world as bigger firms can afford.

This gives businesses an opportunity to use alternative advertising avenues to track and respond to clients’ needs.

Cachet Homes, founded in 1990 in Scottsdale, recognizes that Gen Y’ers are buying their first homes and are comfortable in all things Internet. President Matt Cody even pitches homes on YouTube.

Diane Bryne, vice president of marketing, said, “It’s not all about baby boomers, and we have to reach out and reach (Gen Y’ers) in a way they like.”

Cachet revamps its Web site as new software allows it to connect with customers in new ways. If someone comes into a sales office and signs in with an e-mail address, Cachet can check and see if the person has been on its Web site and what he or she looked at, allowing sales staff to customize their on-site pitch.

A study by the University Of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research found that 77 percent of the 500 fast-growing private U.S. companies named by Inc. magazine used some form of social media.

Of the respondents, 25 percent said in 2007 that social media were very important to their business or marketing strategy, with the percentage growing to 44 percent a year later.

For the second year, 65 percent of Cachet’s marketing budget is designated for interactive marketing, Bryne said. “We want (potential clients) to find their initial information quickly, and then we want to engage with them.”

Cachet aims to hook buyers through incentives and promotions on the Web, he said.

Slade Grove, owner of Wicked Bakery in north Phoenix, employs the same philosophy through his weekly e-newsletters.

“Social media allows us to immediately convey within a day what we’re doing,” Grove said. “I thoroughly believe in social media. People should leverage the technology there is.”

He blogs and maintains a page on MySpace, too. In a matter of days, Grove said, he plans to get a Facebook account because he saw Anderson Cooper recommend it: “If it’s good enough for CNN, it’s good enough for me. Using social media shows customers that you really care about them.”

What’s more, a survey of 17,000 Internet users in 29 countries conducted by New York City-based communications firm Universal McCann found that almost 83 percent watch online video clips, nearly 73 percent read blogs and 57 percent have a profile on a social-networking site.

Citizen Online Archive, 2006-2009

This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

In 2010, a power surge fried a server that contained all of videos linked to dozens of stories in this archive. Also, a server that contained all of the databases for dozens of stories was accidentally erased, so all of those links are broken as well. However, all of the text and photos that accompanied some stories have been preserved.

For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

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