I’ve been on a mission lately – to educate businesses on what matters to their bottom line.
Do you feel you’re spending too much on conventional advertising (yellow pages, print magazines, etc.) and not seeing a return? Struggling to get to the next level? Sick of being a slave to the stop-start cycle all small businesses go through – when it comes to sales and marketing?
I’ve heard in various circles that social media is the answer – but you’re completely wrong.
Let me explain.
It’s been my experience that you don’t really care about the Internet. It’s flashy, sexy, we all spend too much time distracting ourselves on it – and very little of that time is productive (at least for me :). However, when it comes to your business’ Internet presence there’s a lot of information – too much probably, and a lot of mis-information confusing everyone. You don’t want to worry about the web, you just need it to work for you – or at least I’m trying to convince you it will.
There are some very simple concepts you must understand in order to grow your business like you never thought possible. You want to step your business up to the next level, and the Internet is a perfect place to do that. Just probably not in the way you think.
First, understand your business is your website.
Most people think their business is a part of their advertising/marketing plan – and to some extent I would have to agree. But, what we struggle to educate our potential clients and even current clients on is that as a whole – it’s really not. It is your business. Your website, is akin to your brick-and-mortar storefront. It’s where customers go to learn more about your services, but generally, in-and-of-itself YOUR WEBSITE IS NOT THE WAY YOUR BUSINESS GETS FOUND.
Your business gets found by the marketing/advertising plan you put in place, and all of the supplemental things you do on your website, and on the web – to point people back to your website. This is everything, your content strategy (or search engine optimization), paid online advertising (through pay per click ads, or banner ads on appropriate websites), social media, etc.
And most of you would think social media is important.
Although I’d agree that it needs to be a part of the mix – I would suggest it needs to be much lower on the totem poll of your business’ marketing plan for a couple of reasons:
- Generally Social Media is NOT How You Will Be Found By Your Customers
- Social Media is Expensive (at least in time costs)
Instead I’d recommend the following mix for any business:
- Email Newsletter
- Content Writing Strategy
- Pay Per Click Marketing
- Social Media -and/or- a mix of local review services
This is the most important piece of the puzzle. Everything needs to point back to your website – even those magazine ads. Now-a-days people are going through what Google calls the “ZMOT” or zero moment of truth. It’s that stage where they hear about you, from friends, neighbors, or view an ad – and immediately search for you online – to learn more, read reviews, and investigate.
BECAUSE everything points back to your website, you must nurture it and treat it like a hub. Fill it with helpful information on your business, things your prospective customers need or want to know. Make sure it’s easy to navigate. And keep it up-to-date with timely articles that combine your area of expertise/industry with the concerns of your clientelle.
It’s old, it’s not flashy, and some of us are subscribed to far-too-many newsletters. But, hands-down enewsletters continue to be one of the best converting tools of any marketing mix. Here’s the best part – your website copy (say articles on your blog) can help you fill that email newsletter, and in a best case-scenario you can even have a newsletter that gets taken care of AUTOMATICALLY when you post something new on your site.
This is old-school customer “dripping” for the 21st century (although to be fair email newsletters were very popular in the 20th century).
Content Writing Strategy
Once the above 2 issues are addressed, working properly, and easy to navigate/signup for – the next step is a content writing strategy. Set aside time each week, twice a day, or once a month (whatever it is stick to it) to continually update your website with helpful information. Each event a company representative attends, each update in your industry, is an opportunity for you to be heard and for potential clients and customers to find you.
This is vital because the previous step (email newsletters) and the additional steps I’m about to go through can not only be handled with this one step, but it also is vital to a search engine optimization strategy. I’ll spare you the boring details about why content is important from an SEO perspective (being seen on search engines) but the bottom line is – the more you get on your site – the more you write – the more you’ll be found.
Pay Per Click Marketing
After – and only after – the above steps are complete it’s almost ALWAYS our recommendation to do pay per click marketing. You have the opportunity to get in front of your prospective customers at the exact moment they search for their problem – of which your business provides a solution! Conversion rates for pay per click are amazing and costs are relatively low – and the best part – you ONLY PAY WHEN SOMEONE VISITS YOUR WEBSITE.
With the above considerations in mind (your website = your brick and mortar business) how much would you pay for qualified foot traffic into your business? Each and every person that walks in the door looking for exactly what you have to offer and ready to purchase?
There is no difference between this scenario on-or-off line – except the Internet makes this shortening fo the sales-process possible.
Finally, and only after the above are complete – should social media be considered.
And here’s why – social media means doing much of the above all over again (if you don’t have a great website in place or a content strategy). BUT if you do – then setting these up – and populating them with content is as simple as doing what you’re already doing. For example – you can set up your website to auto fill in a tweet or facebook post EVERY TIME you write!
Also, Social Media is not generally how you’ll be found, it’s an extension to an old school newsletter – which continues to provide a far higher return and far less time to manage – for all of our clients that make it an active part of their marketing mix – as opposed to social media.
To conclude, social media is important, but it’s not usually a vital part of the marketing mix for our clients and should only be considered after you’ve reviewed the above 4 pieces for your business.