Saturday, March 5, 2011

Social Media for Local Small Businesses - Does it work?

YES - when used properly. Everyone can spend a lot of time on social media accounts with no results. Many local small businesses don't believe their customers use social media. Others don't want to 'bother' people on social media sites with their sales tactics. Some are scared to use social media. Once you have answered all their questions - which is easy to do - now figure out what strategy is appropriate for their business. I have two different social media strategies I recommend for my clients: 1) Sales and Deals and 2) Help and Education.

Sales and Deals is for mainly retailers that have walk-in and/or ecommerce traffic. The  main objective is to attract customers to come into the store and make a purchase. This can be obtained by offering sales, deals, contests and events. To determine what gets the greatest response - test different offers and track what customers saw it on the social network. This enables you to improve your effectiveness of each post.

Help and Education is for businesses that require a sales force - usually B2B - however - it can be some B2C. The main objective is to provide meaningful information to your prospective and current customers that will assist them in making a decision about your products/services or helps them improve their business. Do not sale your products and services - provide solutions for your customers issues. This can be in the form of tips, articles, research, etc. Remember you are helping and educating - not selling.

One other use of social media is to utilize a local social media page to post your sales/deals or just advertise your business. Sites such as Hall County Hot Spot on Facebook is a great example.

Social media is a great inexpensive tool for small businesses. How are you using social media for your business?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

What is the most important marketing tool in your proposal?

Every time I present a marketing strategy proposal, I get the question 'which one of these marketing tools is the most important?'  I know that you are not suppose to answer a question with a question - however - my response is 'what are your goals?'.  I cannot answer their question without knowing what is their most important goal for their business.  Adding new customers? Bringing back old customers? Increasing sales to existing customers? Just increase the bottom line?

I was actually asked that exact question today during a presentation today.  My answer for this particular company was a new website and SEO.  The website is the foundation to all their marketing strategies.  It has the greatest potential for generating leads and providing the most information for potential customers.  If you are an ecommerce site - then I don't have to explain that one.

I know what many of you thought when you saw SEO. I am not talking about just keyword phrases. I include inbound marketing and blogging in my SEO package. You cannot provide a successful SEO program without including inbound marketing and blogging. Call-to-actions, landing pages, links and social media are all a part of an inbound marketing plan. Blogging can increase traffic to your site by up to 50%.

Don't get me wrong - other traditional advertising, email marketing, internet marketing and traditional media can all be important components of a successful marketing plan. However, small businesses many times need to start slow and a little at a time. Know what a small businesses goals are and match the appropriate marketing strategies to their goals.

What are your goals for your business in 2011 and does your marketing plan match those goals?