I was driving home yesterday going past hundreds of small companies that are all in the same economic boat right now. They need to drive traffic, sales, and business. And you can best believe that they are willing to try any and all things that can possibly do that. And that includes utilizing social media. I mean we can find plenty of blog posts and articles about whether large companies can succeed using social media, and my answer would be “uhhh… yea!”
So one of the questions I would have as a small business owner and even a medium sized in some cases would be:
1) How can I drive sales, traffic and business to my click and mortar site using any online means available? Wow that’s a broad question. But wouldn’t you ask the same thing? Tell me what’s out there and I will use it, if it helps.
Let’s assume that you have a website and you use email. If you don’t, you can stop here because the rest won’t matter. But unless you’re reading this post at the library or you’re over at your Aunt Evelyn’s, I’m going to assume that you at least have a computer. And since you are a small to medium size business owner, you damn well better have a website! NO MATTER WHAT KIND OF BUSINESS YOU HAVE, YOU BETTER HAVE A WEBSITE.
Lets get to it, Lets go over this checklist and see if there is room in the social media marketing space for the small players.
2) Do customers use your website? If they don’t maybe it’s because they don’t know you have one. What efforts have you employed to market or optiimize your current site?
3) Do you give them any reason to go to your website? If you are not letting people know your site is out there and what it has to offer, then you can answer that question pretty easily. But is your site a marketing tool. Can customers get a better deal on a service or a product if they go there?
4) What do they do when they are there? Whats the bounce? What do your analytics tell you? You do use some type of stats package right? If you don’t what your customer does on your website, it’s the same as if you stayed in your office all day and never came out to see what was going on in your business or store. In order to understand the customer you have to see their tendencies. You have to know where they are coming from and how they found you.
5) How well do you utilize your URL on other marketing materials? You have signage, billboards, print ads, business cards, letterhead, email, Is your web address there?
6) What is your presence like locally? How well are you branded locally? Do they know you, who knows where you are locally? What efforts do you make to brand you and your company locally? The “if you build it, they will come business model”, doesn’t work too often.
7) What are your current marketing initatives like? Do you support them online? Do you have a budget? What do you use it on? Is it a print ad? Do you do anything that can drive business on a consistent basis?
8) With a limited marketing budget, what would you do with it? What DO you do with it? Is that something that even is on your mind or lips? Are the economics of what is happening right now preclude you from even thinking about budgeting for marketing? Wouldn’t this be the most opportune time to be spending?
9) Do you do any type of digital marketing now? i.e. email, seo, sem? If you don’t then that will explain your lack of any traffic on your website, along with the design you have to let people know you have a web presence.
10) Do you know what social media is?
11) Do you understand it? Do you know what the essential elements are of social media?
Before I go any further, lets throw something out there right now and that’s lets assume that you have answered all of these questions the “right” way. Let’s assume that you are ready to do this, you are ready to “try” some element of social media marketing. And lets hope that you’re not fighting or resisitng to try social media You’re next set of questions are going to be:
1) Is there a company or someone out there who can help me?
2) Do they have experience working with my type of company, my type of customer?
3) What guarantees do I have that this will work?
4) What will it cost? What can I expect?
5) Will it fail? What is the downside?
6) What is the upside? What, after all is said and done, will be the net result?
7) How long will it take?
8) Is it a process?
9) Is it measurable?
10) What do I look for in my results?
11) How do I pay for something like this?
13) Now what do we do?
Ok so we now have 23 talking points to get the conversation going. There are questions that small to medium sized business owners need to ask of themselves in regards to their current marketing efforts and the general state of of their advertisng efforts and there is the next set of questions that these same owners need to ask of any individual or company that comes knocking that is going to pitch them on social media marketing.
The point is this, there are so many “conversations” going on right now in regards to how corporations are wrestling with implementing social media into their marketing efforts. In fact Jeremiah Owyang recently wrote a post about the 5 questions that companies ask about social media, but it concerns large outfits and not the little guys. I think the small players are being ignored. It’s not that it can’t be done, it just needs to be very focused. Why can’t everyone participate in the conversation?
To your question, I want to answer YES. Indeed social media is a great way to market a small/medium size business by finding/listening/engaging in the right conversations and building relationship with the right people. Prospects/influencers are all online now and blogging. The trick is to find them and have a good product/attitude to get them to listen to you. I manage a small start-up and most of our effort focus on social media marketing because we believe it’s the way it’s going. We monitor 600+ blogs on social media marketing (kind of the sweet spot of our offering) and it brings good results.