The Pew Internet and American Life Project just released another study indicating that social media is not where most people find local businesses.
It continues to baffle me that so many small businesses are taken in by the hype of social media to the extent that they are starting to lose focus on the big picture. Social media is important yes, people use social media for both personal communication and getting information, but it’s not the ONLY method they use. And different demographic groups use it in different ways and for different purposes.
The study indicates a strong tendency for people to get information about local community events, services, establishments, and news in multiple ways. TV, newspaper, radio, Internet, word of mouth (phone, text, email, chat, face-to-face) are all still important channels of communication in peoples’ lives when it comes to local information. People make judgements about the strength and validity of the information based both on who stated it and how they came across it.
So when it comes to your marketing, don’t bet the farm on Facebook, you need to create a variety of mechanisms to consistently communicate your brand message. You need to understand your audience and how each communication channel “fits” your company’s culture and your products and services. This is why I tout a strategic approach to Internet marketing.
The Pew organization is highly trustworthy and their research is widely valued. It’s worth your time to read the study if you can. It’s long so if you don’t have time to read the whole thing, at least read Part 5: The Role of the Internet.
Earlier this week I told you about our new “E-Connect Your Business” program and why I developed it. Now I will explain it in more detail, and how it might benefit you.
First of all, this is clearly a service that businesses need. The first week after I announced it I had two businesses sign up. I’m almost afraid to send out the mailing I had planned for fear we’ll get overrun with phone calls! Sounds like a good thing, but it’s a new program and I want to do it right.
E-Connect Your Business uses a collaborative approach to implementing a company’s e-marketing programs. Nobody knows the business better than the business’s owner and its key staff. Blindly handing over your marketing to somebody without having input into the detail activities is not likely to succeed. That’s why an important part of our program is that the business client needs to commit to a certain level of involvement in not only the strategic direction of their e-marketing program, but also in the creation of the content that will get distributed throughout the various channels.
The business needs to assign internal resources to work with us in several key roles:
The real underlying success factor here is that the business resources have a stake in the program, but our staff takes care of all the technical details and manages the entire program. This takes all the hassle out of it for the business! We do the work, and you get the results.
It’s really a beautiful model. Everybody does what they like to do best. You run your business, we do your e-marketing. You get the results (more business for you), and we get another happy customer (more business for us). Everyone wins!
Yesterday morning I did a presentation to the local Chamber of Commerce. The topic of the presentation was “Debunking the Myths of E-Mail Marketing: It’s Really Not SPAM.”
Despite the fact that it’s the hottest month of the year in Virginia and everybody is at the Outer Banks on vacation, it was a full house.
Clearly this is a topic of interest.
E-Mail Marketing has a bad rap. There is so much misunderstanding and misinformation about e-mail marketing. Encouraging my clients to do an e-mail marketing campaign generally meets with either disdain or chagrin or sometimes even disbelief (“Seriously?!?”).
As I was giving this presentation I looked around the room to see if people were falling asleep or reading their email on their smart phones. They were all just staring at me. Hopefully I didn’t have food in my teeth. I’m guessing they were just rapt with attention.
I doubt it’s because I’m a charismatic speaker.
E-mail marketing works. Done correctly, i.e. ethically and with clear goals, e-mail marketing is the most successful internet marketing channel there is. Period.
Next week I am going to start a series, which will reveal to you the eight myths I debunked during my presentation yesterday, one at a time.
I am looking forward to it! I hope it does the same for you as it did for my audience yesterday.
I’m reading Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich” again, and so the principle of persistence is on my mind.
Mr. Hill states that persistence is one of the most critical qualities that a successful person must have. As I was listening to this chapter (ch. 9) on my iPod, I was thinking about how persistent I am, as an individual. I am almost tenacious in my persistence. I have been called a “bulldog” because I won’t let a problem go until I have solved it.
Even so, the persistence required for success, according to T&GR (Think and Grow Rich) seems to require far more than even my own well-developed abilities have provided me. The book mentions several times that Thomas Edison failed 10,000 times before he invented the electric light bulb. I don’t know if Mr. Edison actually counted the number of failures he had, but I believe the takeway we are supposed to get from this is that it’s a LOT.
I have heard experts say that most major breakthroughs happen right after the person was about to give up. This means that if the person HAD given up, he would have lost his opportunity!
It is very easy to give up. It’s easier to give up than to do anything else. Being a small business owner is hard work, as well all know. Marketing is just one of the variety of activities we need to do to have a successful business.
Internet marketing can be particularly challenging because many of us are new to it. It is foreign and strange and uncomfortable. This makes it very easy to procrastinate, in favor of activities that are more familiar and comfortable. Recognize this for what it is, and make a promise to yourself that you will try it again and again and again, until you see results.
And with your dogged persistence you will see results. I promise you.
In the last post I talked about how every business owner’s primary task is to market her business, not simply to create good products. Traditional marketing is slowly giving way to a mix of both offline and online methods. Let’s look at an example of how one business owner tried to use the Internet to promote her jewelry business.
The jewelry industry is highly fragmented with thousands of artisans competing for sales. Jade’s Jewelry Shop offers uniquely-designed pieces, created by Jade herself. Jade possesses the skills, the passion and the creative flair to create a potentially thriving jewelry business. She makes a wide range of beautiful handmade necklaces, bracelets, rings, and earrings using different materials.
Jade has a small store space in a local mall, and also goes to weekend fairs and art shows. Jade wanted to expand her reach and use the Internet to start selling her pieces, so she decided to launch a web site. She hired a professional web designer and bought an e-commerce application. She had hundreds of lovely pieces in her inventory, and her web site showcased them well. But even with beautiful products that customers want, and a professional web site, people are still not buying from her online site.
What seems to be missing here?
Jade failed to reach her audience. What she missed was the marketing. While a web site is part of a marketing plan, she also needs to promote, advertise and generate traffic to her web site.
No matter what kind of online presence you have for your business, whether it’s your own web site, an eBay or Etsy store, or a custom Facebook page, businesses still need to follow the marketing process in order to have success with online marketing.
In Jade’s case, she can make use of social networking sites to promote her online shop. She can use search engine optimization techniques to help expand her online search engine exposure. She can also ask journalists to write stories about her business and products to get publicity in online (or offline) magazines and newspapers. She could use print advertisements and direct mail to target her most likely customers. Online, she should interact more with her customers by joining online auction sites, discussion groups and relevant directories. Her business card, brochures, and sales fliers should all contain her web address.
Marketing your business in a variety of ways is the key to success. The number of ways to generate interest in, and traffic to, your website are nearly endless. By engaging in a just a few strategic marketing activities, both online and offline, business owners are almost guaranteed to see a significant increase in quality traffic and turn that into higher profits.
Without a well-planned marketing “process” it is nearly impossible to create and maintain product awareness. Every business therefore, is in the business of marketing their products, not simply making them.
EMarketingConnection.com is the place to go for support, community, and resources for your internet marketing programs.
Focusing completely on small businesses, EMarketingConnection.com is a membership site exclusively for those of us who understand the power of the internet and want to successfully leverage it to promote our business and boost sales.
With three membership levels (starting at free!) there is something for everyone at EMarketingConnection.com.
See you there!