Month: May 2013

Poll Says SMBs Should Try Online Marketing

As the final installment in our five week series on the results from our online poll published on April 15th, we asked what the best piece of advice a SMB owner needs to help them grow their business and the last piece of advice was “Try online marketing”.

To answer this question, I wanted to share with you a fantastic article entitled
3 Internet Marketing Tips by Debra Murphy of Masterful Marketing, in which she interviews Susanne Morreale Leeber, the President of the Marlborough Regional Chamber of Commerce. The article outlines a few Internet marketing tips for small businesses that I think provides a great starting point for SMB owners:

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1. Internet marketing is not a business model or a replacement for marketing basics

There’s a certain amount of confusion around this what Internet marketing really is. For some, Internet marketing is a business model – i.e. you have built an Internet based business. But for most small businesses, the Internet is a new media channel that can be used to reach your target market.

If you view Internet Marketing as another tool in your toolbox, then your mindset changes and you can apply basic marketing concepts to your efforts – that is who is my target audience, where can I find them and why would they want to connect and do business with my company?

2. Internet marketing is not a quest for the most likes, followers and friends

social-network-followers

Internet marketing is about building relationships and gaining visibility within your target market. Unfortunately there is something inherently important about fan counts, and it is human nature for people to check out your company profile on Facebook or Twitter and instantly judge them based on the metric of followers, friends or fans. But having many fake or uninterested followers does not help your business. So although growing your Facebook fans or Twitter followers organically seems tedious, those who follow you may actually care about and support your business. Using a service to quickly add 2000 fans only hurts you in the long run if you plan to do anything to market to these fans or followers.

3. Internet marketing is not about chasing the next new shiny object

Internet marketing is about creating a solid marketing plan, staying the course, evaluating your results and then modifying your activities as needed. I advise small business owners to create a marketing plan that’s flexible, can adapt to changes as the Internet evolves and fits your specific needs and overall marketing strategy. Not every new and improved online tool will be right for your business.

How does a small business owner effectively market their business online when they are trying to run their business on a day-to-day basis?

For many small businesses, it may seem that marketing gets more complicated and more confusing by the day, with constant changes to the technology and new platforms claiming help your business become more visible in the search engines.

The good news is that Internet marketing has transformed into a more sensible activity for small businesses, incorporating content marketing, search engine marketing including local search and social media marketing as the primary activities. The key is to find someone who you can work with who is knowledgeable about marketing and keeps up with the latest in this space. Doing so can help you focus on your base business, which is what you do best as a local business owner.

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With all of the pieces of advice we covered in our poll, I hope that you have a better understanding of what tools you need to get your marketing in order. Were these poll results useful to you? Did they provide the advice needed to grow your business? I look forward to engaging with you in the comments.

#4 Piece of Advice for SMBs is Tracking Marketing Tactics

measurementContinuing in our series on the results from our online poll a few weeks ago, we asked what the best piece of advice a SMB owner needs to help them grow their business and the fourth highest response was “”track your marketing results”.

Even though it ranked fourth in our poll, I want to highlight just how important this point really is. As a marketer, tracking marketing results is key, and it helps us determine the success of a campaign and also can indicate what decisions we should make in terms of further investment, making tweaks to a campaign and setting the expected return on investment (ROI).

Many SMB owners have produced brochures, one page ads, sell sheets, flyers, and even websites, but when asked for the ROI on each of these marketing tactics they are hard pressed to produce the results.  With analytics available on everything these days from emails and websites to webkeys and radio ads, SMB owners need to know that they can ask for and expect results. I have outlined below what I feel are the top marketing tactics that SMB’s need to be measuring.

  1. Do you have Google Analytics on your site? If not, why not? Google Analytics is free and lets you measure your advertising ROI as well as track your Flash, video, and social networking sites and applications.  At a minimum, you should receive a regular report about your site from your marketing agency or internal resource. If you have extra time, ask you marketing agency not just for a report, but also to give you access to your Google Analytics account.  You need to be looking at this report and make sure you understand what it means. If it doesn’t make sense to you… then work with them until you can clearly see the value.
  2. If you are using print in your marketing, make sure the print pieces can be tracked.  One way to do this is to add a code to each piece and have the recipient quote that code when they contact you. Another way is to add a QR code to your print materials and then you can measure the success of the “visits” on the site you have entered into the code.
  3. Online marketing should all be measurable via its own application, a landing page or links to your site.
  4. E-blast vendors all offer analytics – open rates, click through rates, etc.  Make sure you get a report once you send out the email so you can assess the results to determine if it met your campaign objectives.

Before you launch any marketing tactic, make sure it’s tied to your marketing strategy, has clear objectives with clearly defined goals and ensure you have a measurement system in place that will help you meet your objectives and achieve your results.

Have you ever launched a tactic without using measurement?  How did you decide if it was successful or not?  How important is the measurement of your tactics? I’m looking forward to hearing your opinions on tracking your marketing results.

#3 Piece of Advice For SMBs is Hire a Professional Marketing Agency

In our online poll of a few weeks ago, we asked what the best piece of advice a SMB owner needs to help them grow their business and the third highest response was “hire a professional marketing agency”.

As the owner of a professional marketing agency, I feel a little biased writing an article about this topic from my perspective, so I decided to let a third party address this week’s topic and found this fantastic article from Brianna Smith at Fpweb.net. 

In this article entitled “The Modern Marketer”, she outlines, in what I feel is a humourous way, just exactly what it takes to be successful marketer today:

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Want to be a marketer? Well, make sure you know what it truly means. To become a successful marketer it is no longer about developing a catchy ad campaign that you will shout from the roof tops. Marketing has evolved into a combination of artistry and science. The modern marketer must have a strategic and analytical mind dedicated to measurable metrics but that is always craving a creative outlet.

Take a look at what you need to be a successful modern marketer in the infographic below. A marketer must:

  • Be a creative writer
  • Have an eye for great visual content
  • Understand the power of social media for engaging with consumers
  • Live by the rules and best practices of email marketing
  • Be Dedicated to tracking and measuring all marketing efforts
  • Enjoy using analytics tools to understand data and visualize trends
  • Be a budgeting maven
  • Never stop looking for new tools and resources to understand consumers

But, even though being a modern marketer means not thinking like the advertising minds of the Mad Men characters, it does not mean you can’t dress like them!

6a00e54ee3905b8833017d428025a6970c With all that is involved in being a successful marketer today, it is no wonder why hiring a professional agency is top of mind and solid advice for SMB owners.

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Do you have a marketing agency working for you?  Would you ever consider hiring one and if so, what aspects of your marketing do you feel an agency could help you with?  I look forward to hearing from you in the comments below.

#2 Piece of Advice For SMBs is Social Media – Also Most Frustrating

roi-social-mediaIn our online poll we conducted a couple of weeks ago, we asked what the best piece of advice a SMB owner needs to help them grow their business and the second highest response was “engage in social media”.

Despite the fact that SMBs’ continue to increase their spending on social media, the reality is that thousands and thousands of SMB owners are frustrated and disappointed in the results they receive from social media. However, it should be noted that most SMBs’ implement social media with the wrong expectations. Ted Rubin, Chief Social Marketing Officer of Collective Bias, says that social media isn’t about sales generation, it’s about trust. “If people trust you they’re going to be loyal. If they’re loyal, their average order will be higher, the frequency of their purchases will be higher and the life expectancy of them as a customer will be longer.”

Based on my experience in providing social media to SMBs’, I’d like to share a few absolutely critical items you’ll need to accept when your business begins engaging in social media:

  1. Setting up a few social media sites and hoping the sales will pour in is unrealistic
  2. Social media is not direct marketing and you cannot expect the same results
  3. Social media is “social”, so you need to have a dedicated person or agency spend the time to listen, track, and engage with potential customers
  4. Social media requires a lot of patience to build loyalty and trust
  5. Think return on relationship, not return on investment: It takes time to nurture relationships online, time worth investing.
  6. Social media is not primarily a lead generation tool, it’s a place to build loyalty, answer customer service questions and build community
  7. Building trust and loyalty takes time and commitment, which will result in an increase in revenue.

We all know that loyal customers who trust us are customers for life!  So set your priorities and accept the long-term commitment of social media and your labour will result in increased revenue.

Do you engage in social media for your SMB? Have you run a business without using social media and if so, why?  I look forward to hearing from you in the comments below.