Online Marketing Strategies for Small Business
Nearly a month back I posted this poll on how business managers are using online marketing to drive their business.
The results are far from scientific but tell us something. 44% of contributors, with a fairly stable combo of men and women and almost all over the age of thirty, not business amateurs, either don’t know, don’t use any or see mixed success. Blogging and creating good subject matter seems to have advanced the needle in second. Due to the number of participants the quality of Social Media Marketing, PPC and Video as answers is statistically suspicious.
So basically, most business owners don’t know what works or haven’t yet found the key to that vault of internet gold. Almost half of people responding are just unsure what the heck to invest in, if they should at all. Here are some pointers.
Make a Plan
This sounds condescending but it truly isn’t. I had a chat with a couple of small business colleagues a few weeks ago on the PPC (pay per click) technique, and they were arguing about where to put their energies. These were two successful brothers who have done tons of traffic to their site with conversions to sales not being what they desired them. I share their problem. One brother disputed that they should pull all their PPC and stop blogging efforts and bore into revising their site around conversions. The other feared that stopping content production was not a great concept, that a void would open up and it would be two times as hard to garner up that traffic again.
My response? Exactly!
Just keep this in mind. Any monkey can purchase PPC on Google Adwords and bounce their traffic, and if traffic were the end game, that monkey would be in fat city. For most of us, it isn’t, traffic is a means to an end, and that usually means more profits or some advance in the selling procedure (meaning they register for your mailing list). Respond to the question, “What specifically do I want to happen because of my online marketing efforts?”, and be extremely particular. Get a reality check from those qualified in the art, as in mastermind group partners who are flourishing with online marketing plans. Now you have a point of focus to start from.
Determine Who’s Doing the Work
Contracting consultants can be expensive for sure, but understand this. None of the techniques in the survey above are worth doing poorly. Each needs a lot of work. If you would like to do them all on your own, you’re kidding yourself. As a business CEO, you don’t have the time to do them all yourself, so if you prefer to start small and go it alone, just select one area, one technique within that category to excel in, and a second tool to learn and do OK. That’s the choice you should make.
What am I trying to say? Well, let’s look at Social Media. That’s all the rage lately. There are so many social media sites out there you cannot possibly keep up with all of them. Websites like YouTube, by the way, are social media sites, along with a ton of Social Bookmarking outlets like Digg, etc.
For my company, consulting and professional services, it made sense to me to concentrate on LinkedIn and study it to the maximum. So I did, and have become professional enough that business individuals hire me to get their traffic to their pages up and the inquiries coming in. Since I blog a lot, Twitter made sense as a tool to at the very least market the blog, so I am studying and getting better at that. My strategy looks like this:
- Classification: Social Media
- Master: LinkedIn
- Study: Twitter
But Karl, there’s 600 million users on Facebook? Yep! I know little about Facebook. Oh, I do have a page and post my tweets to it using some automated gadgets, but I suck eggs at it as a tool for my small business. In fact, an associate of mine after seeing 3 consecutive postings on my professional page commented that he didn’t think it was possible to take the fun out of social media, but I found a way to do it. Facebook is mainly about pictures and true socializing, joking, personal content for me to see a way through it for B2B results (note that Facebook is getting utilized first in the B2C arena). I’m not saying provided sufficient time I couldn’t master and utilize Facebook for business strategy and economic gain; I just have decided to allocate my energies in other places.
You can undoubtedly influence your time with selective outsourcing.
Outsource but Qualify
If you are going to outsource, there are plenty of folks out there you can outsource too who are better than you, but valuable few who will truly move the needle on your company Geiger counter. Look at this article I read and shared on LinkedIn by Zach Weiner on exactly that. This applies to more than Social Media; it applies to virtually any marketing strategy. Check people out, check out their references and work samplings where they have been productive elsewhere. LinkedIn is terrific for this, because LinkedIn recommendations are at least genuine with links to those people (see my strategy for getting Great Recommendations on LinkedIn).
The advantage to outsourcing your advertising efforts for your small business is that you can take a balanced attack given ample resources, meaning money. You can receive some results making use of web video, make a social media explosion, increase traffic with PPC and even outsource your blog for great content. Most advertising folks of any sort, including traditional print, radio, TV types, will tell you that a mix is important to cover the bases of how consumers desire to be marketed to. Providing, certainly, that you don’t suck at any of the devices you use, else better to drop it.
A word to the wise: Much like you don’t have the time to be great at every little thing, be a bit wary of the person who declares to be a professional in every bloody thing, whether it is web design or social media or anything else. It’s tough to be fantastic at everything. I do LinkedIn well, but wouldn’t expect to hawk my services on anything else I am not a specialist at besides technique on which tools to utilize. I do web video, but a specific kind of web video called Executive Video Interviews that maximizes my vocal talent and lack of technical acumen with high-priced video. If someone you are considering to outsource to is pitching as an A to Z specialist (what you really want), be sure there is a firm with multiple staff members who niche themselves in the distinct tools of the trade.
Keep Track of Results and Adjust Accordingly
The interesting thing about online advertising is that it is much easier to keep track of outcomes than other methods, which have constantly had a problem incorporating tangible perks and have promoted the reasoning that if it spreads your name out, it must be doing ok. Everything that you get by means of the internet has stats you can check out (translating them could be a challenge) and make modifications. For instance, I just reduced on and revised my Google Adwords campaign based on what I saw that was working and getting clicked on, AND what pages on my blog were receiving visitors without the final results I wanted. In just a few months I can determine where the sore spot is and take action to remedy that.
Just don’t forget to keep your goal in mind. For instance, most internet advertising landing pages will have an assortment of pages that the individual has to click on to forge ahead in the process. This is done for no small cause to be able to keep track of engagement level of the sales process that is taking place. Statistics show that every successive page has its share of attrition, yet those who run the gauntlet are now extremely certified customers that are very likely to switch to sales. Internet marketers can tell who got to the page, who requested the free report, who got the video, and ultimately, who added something to the shopping cart. This assists you as an entrepreneur know that of your traffic to the page, a specific portion take the next step in the sales process. If you want that to be greater, alter the landing page.
What are Your Methods to Navigate the Internet Marketing Seas?
Post your comments on what you’ve done to get the most out of your marketing, what instruments you have decided on to become specialists or familiar with, and if you have been confused to this point, what you want to do as your next step. You’ll get a link back to your blog and might just get highlighted in a future article.
About the Author:
Karl Walinskas is the CEO of Smart Company Growth, a business development firm that helps small to mid-size professional service firms builds competitive advantage in an online world of sameness. He is author of numerous articles and the Smart Blog on leadership, business communication, sales & service, public speaking and virtual business, and Getting Connected Through Exceptional Leadership, available in the SmartShop. Get your FREE LinkedIn Profile Optimization eBook & Video Course, Video Marketing video and course, or Mastermind Groups e-course & video now.