The Changing Landscape of Modern Marketing
by Shannon Kinney
It’s no wonder so many small businesses struggle today to connect their brands, products and services to the right people.
Ten years ago, when I sold print advertising for my local newspaper, small-business marketing was less complex. Business owners bought ads in the newspaper, commercials on local radio, a Yellow Pages listing, and a nice sign to hang above the shop door.
My clients’ biggest concern was deciding what special or offer to put in each week’s ad. It was so critical that we actually visited their place of business every week just to figure that out. If you were a sales rep who was really on top of your game, you would already have a speculative ad layout prepared, to dazzle them with your creativity – for an ad that had already been sold.
Ahhh, those were the good ol’ days, when people and households were our metrics, rather than likes, comments and click-through rates. With the arrival of social media marketing and search marketing, those days are gone.
Today’s Business Owner
The average local business owner is besieged with phone calls, emails, and a multitude of sales reps walking through the door: an average of 39 sales reps a month. That fun conversation goes a little like this:
Do you have a website you are happy with? Great, well I hope it has search-engine friendly URLs and optimized content to be indexed by Google. AND speaking of Google – you realize that you need to claim, verify, and post regularly on that Google+ page of yours to actually SHOW UP in organic search too, right? ALSO, that Facebook page of yours is claimed, but really no one cares about your cat memes and political beliefs (ouch!). But that is OK because at least you have been at the same physical location for all of digital time, so your business directory listings are accurate and consistent. Do you have a mobile site? Because local search traffic on mobile devices now exceeds desktop traffic. BY THE WAY, who is your target market and how are you reaching them? AND would you like some SEO with that?
Seriously, people. This is all too much. If I were the owner of a small retail business, even with my digital marketing background, I would be overwhelmed trying to keep up with all of this on my own while still running my business.
Businesses that “Get It”
Trying to be everywhere your customers need you to be in this hyper-connected world is a challenge. So how do people do it? More importantly, how do they focus on the right prospective customers? Well, businesses that “get it“ know two things: first, this digital stuff is vitally important to their success, and second, they cannot do it in the five minutes or so they can devote to it every day.
To make this even more perplexing, rarely do these digital initiatives work without having an actual plan. I’m sorry. I know this is terrible of me. But yes, doing all of the right digital stuff without a strategy is going to leave you wanting and waiting for RESULTS. We are not talking about unique impressions, or new followers: we are talking real dollars, actual money in your pocket.
So, Where Can You Begin?
First, find a trustworthy marketing professional who can walk you through what is important for your business. Ask for a free evaluation of your digital visibility and that of your local competitors. I provide this all the time, and any marketing person worth their fee will do it too.
Start to pay attention to the conversations happening on social media among your own friends. Notice the examples of word of mouth “advertising” happening in front of hundreds or even thousands of people.
Determine which of your products or services contribute the most dollars to your bottom line. Then figure out who is buying those products or services specifically. That is a great place to start when deciding how to target your advertising and other marketing efforts. These are the people you would PAY to have as your customers. But don’t spend a penny on any of this without understanding WHY you are trying to reach them, WHERE you are going to find them, and WHAT results you want to achieve.
Purposeful marketing with a strategy is what you need to achieve actual results – again, real money in your pocket — in this brave new digital world. And no one expects you to go it alone.
Do you know who your customers really are? We’ve developed a guide to help you determine your ideal customer. Click the button below to download.