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.
I think a lot about my sales funnel these days. I have a tall metal filing cabinet, to which I have attached about 30 post-it notes, each representing some channel or other method of marketing.
It loosely resembles a hub-and-spoke model, with my main product in the middle, and the channels emanating around it. Some of the channels also have supporting post-its to emphasize details or other assets.
This is a crude model, but it’s very effective in helping me visualize the importance of certain activities I may be engaged in. It’s also easy to manage. I can move things around, write in details, add highlights or asterisks, add and remove items at will.
Normally a sales funnel is pictured as an actual funnel, where all undifferentiated potential business comes in at the top, and only the final qualified sales come out the bottom. This is fine as a general illustration, but it doesn’t say enough about the actual process you have to go through to weed out the tire-kickers and freebie seekers and price shoppers, not to mention everyone else your message reached who just isn’t interested in your solution.
The hub and spoke model that I use is still only a part of the puzzle, but I like it because it helps me stay focused. Given that my schedule is generally so frantic, and my To Do list is a mile long, I often find myself at a loss for what to do next. When this happens I just look at my Sales Funnel Post-it Diagram, identify which item is highest priority, and focus on that.
Here’s how to make your own Sales Funnel Post-it Diagram (SFPD for the acronym-addicted).
1. Put one product (or service) in the center. Even if you have several you offer, pick one. Ideally you will choose the one that is most important to your business, or simply will provide the highest revenue stream the fastest. Put this one in a color that’s different from all the rest.
2. Write down a list of all the different ways you could attract potential business to this product. Don’t include things you have no intention of implementing. For example if you are terrified of public speaking, don’t put down “Free Seminars” as one of your channels. Pick those you are likely and able to do right away, if given the chance. Write these down on a different colored post-it, one per sheet.
3. Arrange all your channels in a loose, but somewhat equally-spaced, circle around the product sheet in the middle.
4. On a separate sheet, compile a list of your current assets that support these channels. For example if you’ve written a free eBook, this is an asset that might support a channel called “my e-mail list.” A blogger account supports your blogging channel, and a Chamber of Commerce directory supports a direct mail campaign. These assets are written in a different color (I use smaller sized sheets for these too), and are placed near the channels they support.
5. Look at your creation, in big-picture style. Take in the whole thing at once. Start thinking about which channels have the most supporting assets. Which ones might be easier or quicker, or have a better chance to produce fast results. Use a highlighter to add stars or arrows or boxes or whatever will help shed more or less emphasis on different activities.
6. Move the sheets around as you notice relationships and patterns. Does one channel have lots of support while others have none? Maybe you can move those closer to the center.
Leave your diagram alone for a day or two and let it simmer in your subconscious. Then look at it again with fresh eyes and make further adjustments.
When it’s time to sit down and focus on your marketing, look at your SFPD and use it to help you leap forward with your marketing efforts.
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