About 15 years ago, or as we like to refer to it, BG (Before Google) the marketing choices local businesses had to make were very limited and straightforward.
It generally consisted of the yearly decision regarding the placement and ad type in the Yellow Pages listing, the budget and ad planning for advertisements in local newspapers, and perhaps distributing flyers in the area. And that, pretty much, was the choice.
It wasn’t very complex or diverse, and in most cases local businesses could make these decisions and put them into action themselves very easily.
How Times Have Changed
Google came along and it was the death knell for Yellow Pages. It made things so much easier for potential customers to search for what products they wanted and which businesses they wanted to buy from. They no longer had to use a book that was delivered once a year and was already out of date the second it was printed.
While it was much easier for the consumer, it presented challenges for business owners and very soon they were asking questions such as:
“How do we ‘show up’ in the Google search rankings when people are looking for our products and services?”
“Can you pay for an ad like you did with the Yellow Pages?”
“Should you do that or focus on search engine optimization to show up for free?”
“Should you do both?”
“What the heck is search engine optimization anyway?”
Suddenly small business owners had to become experts in new technology just to compete and ultimately survive.
Google Tried to Make it Easier For Businesses
In order to make it easier for business to be found, Google implemented local listings where companies could be shown on a map right in the search listings, but this too brought fresh challenges. How do you show up there? Is it the same as normal search engine optimization? (It’s not)
What This Means for your Business
The bottom line is this; when a potential customer types in a search phrase that relates to your business in Google, there are at least 3 different paths you need to understand and plan for. These are:
- Paid Ads
- Google Local Listings
- And the regular free organic listing
Each one of these marketing options comes with its own set of skills, knowledge, and techniques if you want them to have a positive impact on your business.
Then Along Came Social Media
After the Google revolution changed marketing forever, along came another game changer; social media with the amazing popularity of Facebook.
Perhaps learning from their Google experiences, most small business owners knew that they needed to act fast and get on Facebook.
Just like Google before it, ‘getting on Facebook’ presented yet more questions and conundrums for local businesses. After all the hype that they had read and hear about they were asking:
“Is Facebook really an effective means of advertising and getting new customers?”
“Is simply having a Facebook page enough or is more involved?”
“What should we do exactly?”
Yes, Facebook can represent a whole new and exciting way to engage and connect with your customers but it also represents yet another marketing medium that needs to be learned and mastered.
An even then, Facebook is just one social media platform. Hot on its heels are the likes of Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+. Social media is growing and constantly evolving. It is showing no sign of slowing down and the general public (your customers) have embraced it and made it part of their everyday lives.
The time involved and the choice of social media platforms can be too overwhelming for most local businesses.
And let’s not forget about good old-fashioned email. It is an overused phrase, but true nonetheless; ‘the money really is in the list’ as many local businesses have discovered to their delight. Having an up to date and accurate mailing list so that you can keep in contact with your potential and actual customers is a huge asset.
However, why do some businesses have great success with email marketing while others end up undelivered, unread, and unopened?
Even though virtually everybody has the ability to send an email, it seems that there is yet another science behind the marketing science of maintaining a profitable mailing list and encouraging new buyers every time you send an email out.
The Evolution Continues with the Birth of the Smartphone
The popularity of Smartphones is growing every single year and most people now use their mobile devices to access the Internet and take part in social media.
They are also using it to locate businesses who can provide the product or service that they are looking for.
On one hand this can perfect for your business and give you another string to your bow. On the other it can destroy your business. How? Even if you have successfully optimized your site so that you can be found on the search engines, if the customers are viewing your traditional desktop site, it will look horrible on their small smartphone and mobile devices.
It will make the whole experience frustrating for them and they will simply log off your site and visit another site (your competitor) and buy from them instead. It is much easier and cost-effective to have a mobile version of your site that looks great on a smartphone with easy navigation and calls to action. Again, this presents more challenges and questions for small businesses when they already have enough to deal with running their business.
So where Does Your Business Go From Here?
Because of the evolution of Internet marketing, essentially local businesses have three choices.
1. They can decide not to get too heavily involved with online marketing.
2. They can go it alone and invest the time and effort in it takes to become an expert in all aspects of online marketing.
3. They can partner with a company that only focuses and specializes in Internet marketing and helping small businesses. A company that will guide them through the whole online marketing minefield and manage a profitable marketing strategy for them.
Most small business owners will agree that online marketing is an absolute must these days. In fact, it is hard to imagine a business being successful if it doesn’t have some kind of online presence.
If a small business wants to try doing everything themselves, they need to be prepared to invest a lot of time and effort. At the very least they must:
1. Completely understand the options open to them regarding online marketing strategies for their business. They need to understand the concepts, the way it all works, and why you need to focus on specific strategies to get the right results.
2. Know their business and its marketing needs, then choose the right methods to employ. It is unlikely that any business would dive headfirst and employ every single online marketing available. That would just be a waste of time and money. Rather, they need to understand that it is critical to only choose the right marketing strategies and prioritize which methods will give their business the most effective results in the shortest time.
3. For each method they choose, they must become an expert on the strategies and tools necessary to achieve the best results. This can be challenging because online marketing is evolving and changing all of the time and it is a constant learning curve which can be too time consuming if they are busy running their brick and mortar business too.
4. Develop a plan for each marketing strategy they decide to use. This would include research, purchasing and learning how to use new tools, setting up budgets for each individual marketing campaign, writing irresistible ad copy that will engage with potential buyers, and even learning how to do a lot of these tasks themselves.
5. Develop a tracking system to ensure that the marketing methods they have chosen are actually bringing in the right results and giving the appropriate return on investment.
The Internet is evolving all of the time, so small business owners must also find a way to stay on top of new developments and adapt where necessary. A marketing strategy that might have worked well yesterday might suddenly stop working today.
No wonder it is so overwhelming for most small business owners, especially when they are busy running their normal business.
That is why we set up our company. We want to work with you and help your business to achieve online success. In the midst of the whole minefield of online marketing we want to be the ones that you can turn to and not have to worry about being an expert in all of these areas.
We work constantly with businesses such as yours and are online marketing experts who you can trust to run your online campaigns.
After talking to you we will be able to understand your business and your marketing needs and put together a comprehensive marketing plan for you.
We guarantee to be able to get you new customers, keep your existing customers, and increase your revenue.
Call us today or visit our website to make arrangements for a free, no obligation consultation.