We speak to and deal with lots of small businesses over the course of a twelve-month period and one thing that has become clear is the lack of a coherent and cohesive strategy.
This is often not the fault of the small business owner as they have their own businesses to run and rarely have the resource to look at their marketing and particular online marketing in a holistic way.
The other problem is the industry itself with new platforms, software, products and services appearing every day all promising untold wealth and success. As small business owners, we are often looking for “quick wins” and can very easily become distracted by something “shiny”. This means that small business marketing becomes an endless trail of bolt-ons, cobbled together products and services without one big plan.
My challenge has always been how do we get this message across to a busy small business owner? If they are working with us or a company like us the problem becomes less (although often still a challenge) because we see it as our job to look holistically and identify products that will work within a small business owners budget and market environment.
What became clear during this session is that the views of the people there were as follows:
Web Site – need a web site because our competitors have one and to act as a brochure for our business and products
Google – need to get to the top of Google in order to find new customers
Social Media – new fad but need it because clients expect it and competitors have it (didn’t really have a view as to how to generate leads and sales from it)
Video – expensive luxury
Article Marketing – time-consuming and non-productive for lead generation
Blog – most couldn’t see the benefit
Email Marketing – only did this occasionally when they had the time
Most of the companies we speak with build their web site and only ever make changes when forced too i.e. new product needs adding, old product out of date, price changes etc.. The most sophisticated had some kind of streaming news feeds because they were aware that content needs to be updated for SEO.
This leads me to the conclusion that we are missing the point. We need to change our approach to Online Marketing in two fundamental ways. I would also like to compare this to the “Old Offline World” we are familiar with.
Online Collateral or Building Blocks
If we see our Web Site, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, YouTube, Blog, LinkedIn as advertising platforms. The comparison for this in the Offline World would be National Newspaper, Billboard at Euston Station, Radio, Regional Press, Exhibitions, Seminars etc..
Therefore the first thing you need to do is make sure you have all these things, and ensure they are branded and portray your business in the best light and you get them in the best places you can for your budget.
Once you have your building blocks in place decide every day or every week what marketing message you want to send and use all these platforms to deliver it. Some weeks your message might be delivered better vis Social Media, other weeks it might be email, other weeks it might be your web site or in fact a combination of all of them.
Do not fall into the trap of building these things and then leaving them to gather dust. You wouldn’t pay for space in a National Newspaper and not place an advert, you wouldn’t pay for Billboard advertising and not put up a message or leave the same message their for years getting tattier and tattier.
Use your online collateral today to increase leads, increase sales and develop your brand!