I’ve spent over 15 years pursuing small business owners as potential clients for my digital marketing business and can tell you undoubtedly, I’ve heard many variations of the following statement: “I know we need to be found online but I don't know how to get there.” Most small business owners have at least made the concession of attaining a website. When it comes to search engine optimization, blogging, or engaging on social media it can be challenging for a small business owner to understand why digital marketing is the right path for success.
To the “traditional” business owner, digital marketing is viewed as a waste of time, using their own personal experience to influence their business decisions."I don’t use social media so why would my clients?” As a professional marketer, the benefits seem obvious. To a small business owner who has followed traditional methods of marketing such as passing around business cards at networking events or cold calling, the benefits can seem foreign. Below are a couple of other statements I've heard from previous clients.
My customers would prefer to be called.
This is the usual complaint of businesses that find customers through offline marketing methods or through existing partnerships and networking. There’s nothing wrong with this, but it’s a representation of biased thinking—you’ll only attract customers offline if you’re only marketing offline! There are 5 billion Google searches every day and over 1 billion active Facebook users; don’t you think at least some of those users might be interested in your business?
Social media doesn't work for our company.
If you’ve tried social media before and have seen little to no success, that doesn’t mean social media is inherently flawed—it means there is a flaw in your social media marketing plan. It happens, even to the industry’s best but the corrective action is to make improvements to your plan by finding the right social channels where your clients “hang out”. Engaging with your followers, analyzing your data, and consistently posting will also make a huge difference in your marketing plan. Many of the leading social media platforms are prioritizing post feeds based solely on high engagement. If you aren’t engaging with your followers, your posts may not show up in the news feed and get lost in the cloud.
Let's take a look at three areas where digital marketing is making a significant impact on small business owners.
Almost every person has access to and regularly uses the internet. When we hear of a business for the first time, most of us immediately look for a website, a social media page, or a Google review where we can learn more. Think about it. Would you stop into a business for a visit without first researching information about the business? People expect you to have a website, and more importantly, one that is up to date - they may doubt your legitimacy or discard you as a potential option altogether if the content on your website has not been updated.
Perhaps you’ve been reluctant to adopt an online marketing strategy but that doesn’t mean your competitors haven’t. They could be conquering the digital landscape, poaching your potential customers, and offering a better first impression to anyone searching for businesses like yours. To make matters worse, every day they continue to follow these strategies – the further ahead they will be from you.
With the increased usage of mobile devices, we are finding that customers are relying more on their devices to search, engage, and purchase. This means that acquiring a digital marketing strategy is imperative for survival. If you are not following a digital marketing strategy it may be time to adopt one. As the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus once said, “Change is the only constant in life.” And so it is in business.
Your digital marketing strategy may not start out perfectly and that's okay. Over time you will learn what works for your business and how to measure its success so that you can determine a budget for future marketing initiatives. The most important key is to start somewhere – start small and grow big over time. Capture the success stories and learn from what doesn’t work. If you don’t take the first step, you’ll always be in the same place.