In conversations with small business owners, I have realized that my conversation with them takes the following structure.
- Business owner: I want to add viral marketing / social media / Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn (pick your favorite platform) to my marketing efforts.
- Me: Of course, great idea but first who are your ideal customers as that will determine which platform may make the most sense?
- Business owner: I just want to add social media to the marketing activities.
- Me: Great, but what are you trying to accomplish so we can determine the type of results you will get?
- Business owner: I’ve heard that social media marketing gets great results for very little money!
- Me: Yes, it can, however, although it may not cost dollars, you do need to budget time to ensure you are consistent with your social media effort.
For the most part, the conversation is usually engaging and the business owner and I discuss the various options. Based on the type of business and the target market, we can determine whether social media is an appropriate strategy now, later or never.
Having this same conversation with different small business owners got me thinking about how many small businesses get distracted by the hype around the next shiny new marketing thing because they were told they should, when in fact they need to understand the marketing fundamentals for their business, determine their strategy, stay on course and measure their results. Look to add new activities when you have the time and resources to do so.
As a small business owner, make sure you know the following 5 things about your business so you can determine the most effective marketing activities.
- Know what you are trying to accomplish in your business – In other words, set goals. Aiming at a clear target will help you make decisions about what to do, when and where in your marketing efforts and keep moving towards the final outcome you have set.
- Know your ideal client intimately – Not only do you need to know what they want, you also need to understand how they purchase your product or services. If they would not think of searching the Internet for the solution you provide, then incorporating social media may not be the right marketing activity for your business.
- Know what makes you different – Understanding what you do best and exploiting it will help you stand out and be noticed, no matter which channel you use to do so.
- Know what value you offer – Your target audience will have different issues, goals and needs and will be looking for a solution that works for them. If you can’t clearly explain why someone should utilize your solution, it doesn’t matter which media you use. No one will listen.
- Know how much time and money you have to realistically spend on marketing – There’s plenty of options available. We just need to be selective and spend our precious resources on what will get us the best return on our investment. Once you have decided on the best activities for your business, be disciplined about how you spend your time and money on marketing activities. It’s easy to get enticed by empty promises and activities that don’t pay off for you.
Before you jump onto the next new social media “thing”, be sure you know these 5 pieces of information about your business and are comfortable with the answers. Then you can put a plan together that utilizes all of the marketing channels that are available today in the most effective manner.
How well do you know the answers to these for your business?