Whoa, Nelly. All this talk we’ve been doing about social media and content marketing is exciting and maybe even a little mysterious. But let’s take a step back and talk about the fundamentals for a moment. Let’s talk about marketing in general: Your marketing.
What are you doing to promote your business?
You took out an ad in the phone book, you say? Put up a website? Advertise occasionally in the local paper or industry publications?
How’s that working for you?
Such “passive” marketing — where you place your advertising and wait for the sales to come — is becoming less effective by the minute. And besides, it’s becoming rarer for people to pick up a phone book (when was the last time you did?); a static website no longer fares well in search engine rankings; and sporadic ad placements have never really been enough to build the number of impressions needed for prospective customers to take action and call you.
Unfortunately, if this is the kind of basic marketing you are relying on to drive customers to your business, you are virtually guaranteeing reduced profit, sales and market share. On the flip side, putting into place a consistent, strategic marketing plan that involves customer interactions boosts the probability that you will be able to compete better in today’s environment.
But — so many businesses say — if business isn’t thriving, who has the money to invest in marketing?
So often, when business isn’t good, the first budget line items to be cut are promotional activities. But this is the wrong path to take. An astute man whose business it was to get hundreds of thousands of people through the door every week, once put it this way:
“When business is good it pays to advertise; when it is bad you have got to advertise.”
— Red Auerbach
In other words: If your marketing needs work, you can’t wait for business to get better before you do something about it! The ways that people find businesses, how they interact with them, and what they expect from them are changing in a very fundamental way. Traditional forms of media are so fragmented that they are now less effective. You need to be where your customers are before another business earns their loyalty — and as it happens, your customers most likely are on social media now. Nearly 70 percent of American adults are, according to Pew Research Center.
So let’s talk about what social media marketing can do instead of these tired old marketing methods you may be using.
- Having a robust Yelp presence, with plenty of (positive) customer recommendations, will probably do more for you than that Yellow Pages ad. After all, people today are more likely to go online and search for a business, product or service. And studies show that they are more likely to take customer reviews into account than advertising messages.
- Having strategic, well-executed social media presences, with rich and plentiful content to feed them, will boost your search engine rankings so that your website can actually be found in web searches. After all, what good is a website if your potential customers must already know about you in order to find it?
- Advertising on social channels, or simply utilizing them properly, will not only be more inexpensive, but also likely more effective. And the best part? By using social/content marketing to its best advantage, you will also be engaging with prospects and customers before, during and following their transactions with you, laying the ground for better retention efforts.
It can be a lot of work, granted. The good news is that you can hire social media marketers, like SocialProse, for about the same amount that you pay for decent ad space. And instead of those static ads, you’ll be taking advantage of the opportunities that exist to grow your business through the effective use of social media and useful content. You’ll be proactively nurturing relationships with prospects and customers. You’ll have more control over how you are found online. You’ll have an insider’s view of what people are thinking and saying about you and your business.
Instead of passively marketing, you’ll be actively engaging — reaching out and inviting people through your door.
Isn’t that better than sitting by the phone, hoping it will ring?
Lynn Christiansen Esquer is a principal at SocialProse Media. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.