“Why An Online Marketing Strategy is a Must For Small Businesses”
At a recent statewide chamber of commerce conference breakout session where I was speaking, I asked the audience if they knew what a “content marketing strategy” was. No hands went up. I then asked if they knew what “content” was. Again, no hands went up.
Now granted, the vast majority of the 40 or so people in the room were “baby boomers” so I half understand why this was foreign to them. However, for a group of people who deal every day with predominantly small businesses, as the owner of a digital marketing company, this was a bit disturbing.
In July I came back to my hometown in a very rural part of Pennsylvania to check on my parents and I inquired, as I always do, about the area’s—mostly “bricks and mortar”— small businesses presence online. I checked with a number of business development organizations as well as the chamber of commerce and the answer was dismal, to say the least. Many either used the internet very little to market their businesses or not at all.
Now, before my rural-living friends start blowing up my inbox, I’d like to say that this is somewhat pervasive with small businesses in general. I’ve lived in Orlando and Phoenix and many small businesses in these metropolitan areas are no different. They either don’t take online marketing seriously or they feel they’re doing fine without it. Some are honest and just simply say they don’t know how to approach it. Ok, now we’re getting somewhere. Honesty.
It’s not unusual for baby boomers to be out of the loop with online marketing because we didn’t grow up with it. My first question is always the same to these ( or any) business owners when they say they’re not really fully online with their business: “Where are your customers?” They usually answer by naming their town and some surrounding towns. I then repeat the question and they name a couple more towns slightly farther away. I then respond, “Your customers are on Facebook.”
My point is that just about everybody is on social media. As of this writing there are over 2 billion active Facebook users. That’s over 25% of the entire world’s population. Over 25%!
That means that in all likelihood most of your customers are on there. So, it would simply make sense to take your business online and have a presence with your business on Facebook at least to expand your business and gain more customers.
If you’re not sure where to start, here are 5 fundamentals for taking your business online if you want to venture there (and you should!):
1. Get a Facebook Business page if you don’t have a website. This is different than a regular FB page and can do more for your business than a regular profile page with various option to showcase your business, advertise on Facebook via Facebook Ads, etc.
2. Get on LinkedIn and use it if you’re a B2B business. LinkedIn is still an under-utilized social media platform that is much more than just a resume or hiring site. It’s real value is in connecting with your ideal business customer through its search tool.
3. Study other social media platforms. If your target audience is women, learning how to navigate Pinterest would make sense. If you serve a younger demographic with your business, Snapchat is a great way to connect. Twitter is still viable but, in my opinion, is falling behind considerably with behemoths like Facebook and Instagram. Study them all and determine which ones are best for your business.
4. Start building an email list. Email marketing is very effective in building a “tribe” online and selling them from there. And you can get a free account with Mailchimp to collect up to 2000 emails. (Check out www.Mailchimp.com)
5. Continually study what works and what doesn’t online. The online world changes dramatically every 18-36 months so, in order to stay on top of it, invest time every day to study about what’s working and what’s not.
Getting online if you’ve never done it before can be intimidating at first. But it gets easier the more you learn about it and use it. And don’t get bogged down in a lot of bells and whistles either. Since there’s a lot of “noise” online and people fighting for your attention, stick to only one thing at a time, learn it and then move on.
Online marketing is similar to the old question regarding a supposed overwhelming task:
Q: How do you eat an elephant?
A: One bite at a time.
Until next time….
P.S. MarketPitch Digital Marketing Consultants works with small businesses to help them go online. We can teach you how to market online or we have a number of “done-for-you” services so you don’t have to do it yourself. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a FREE consult call to discuss your needs.