Advertising a small business online is the Wild, Wild West. Too many choices, not enough time, and it all sounds like it will work, right? Here’s a way to wade through the nonsense and preserve your peace of mind while finding payoffs in internet advertising strategy.
Approximately a month back I posted this poll on how small business owners are using internet marketing to drive their company.
The conclusions are far from scientific but tell us something. 44% of contributors, with a pretty stable mix of men and women and almost all over the age of thirty, not business novices, either don’t know, don’t use any or see mixed success. Blogging and creating good subject matter seems to have advanced the needle in second. As a result of the number of participants the credibility of Social Media Marketing, PPC and Video as answers is statistically suspicious.
In other words, most small business owners don’t know what works best or haven’t yet identified the key to that treasure chest of online gold. Nearly half of individuals responding are just uncertain what the heck to invest in, if they should at all. Here are some suggestions.
Determine Your Goals
This sounds condescending but it really isn’t. I had a discussion with a couple of small business colleagues of mine a few weeks ago on the PPC (pay per click) technique, and they were arguing about where to focus their endeavors. These were two powerful brothers who have done boatloads of traffic to their site with conversions to sales not being exactly where they would like them. I also have their problem. One brother disputed that they should yank all their PPC and discontinues blogging efforts and burrow into revising their website around conversions. The other worried that stopping content generation was not a great concept, that a void would open up and it would be twice as hard to gin up that movement again.
My answer? Right!
Just remember this. Any baboon can get PPC on Google Adwords and bounce their traffic, and if traffic were the end game, that monkey would be in success city. For the majority of us, it isn’t, traffic is a means to an end, and that usually means more sales or some progress in the selling procedure (like they register for your mailing list). Answer the question, “What precisely do I want to occur as a result of my online marketing efforts?,” and be very particular. Get a wakeup call from those experienced in the craft, as in mastermind group partners who are prospering with internet marketing strategy. Now you have an apex of focus to work against.
Decide Who Does What, and Where
Employing specialists can be pricey for sure, yet understand this. None of the methods in the poll above are worth doing poorly. Each requires a lot of work. If you prefer to do them all yourself, you’re fooling yourself. As a small business CEO, you do not have the time to accomplish them all on your own, so if you want to start small and go it by yourself, just choose one area, one technique within that category to pick up, and a second gadget to learn and do OK. That’s the decision you ought to make.
What do I mean? Well, let’s look at Social Media. That’s in vogue these days. There are so many social media sites out there you cannot possibly keep up with all of them. Websites like YouTube, incidentally, are social media sites, along with a lot of social Bookmarking avenues like Digg, etc.
For my business, consulting and professional services, it made sense to me to focus on LinkedIn and study it to the maximum. So I did, and have become skilled enough that other business people hire me to get their traffic to their pages up and the inquiries coming. Considering that I blog a lot, Twitter fell into place as a tool to, at the very least, market the blog, so I am learning and getting better at that. My strategy looks like this:
· Category: Social Media
· Master: LinkedIn
· Learn: Twitter
But Karl, there’s 600 million individuals on Facebook? Yep! I know little about Facebook. Oh, I have a profile and post my tweets to it using some automated gadgets, but I am not the best at it as an instrument for my company. In fact, an associate of mine after seeing 3 continuous postings on my business wall remarked that he didn’t believe it was possible to take the fun out of Facebook, but I found a way to do it. Facebook is too much about pictures and true socializing, bantering, personal stuff for me to see a way through it for B2B results (mind that Facebook is getting manipulated initially in the B2C arena). I’m not saying given more time I couldn’t master and utilize Facebook for business strategy and economic gain; I just have chosen to focus my energies elsewhere.
You can certainly leverage your time with selective outsourcing.
If you’re going to outsource, there are lots of folks available you can outsource too who are better than you, but precious few who will really move the needle on your company Geiger counter. Look at this post I read and shared on LinkedIn by Zach Weiner on exactly that. This hits on more than Social Media; it applies to virtually any marketing technique. Check people out, consider their references and work portfolios where they have been productive elsewhere. LinkedIn is great for this, because LinkedIn recommendations are at least legitimate with links to those people (see my technique for getting Great Recommendations on LinkedIn).
The benefit to outsourcing your advertising energies for your small company is that you can take a well balanced assault given ample resources, meaning money. You can obtain some results using web video, make a social media splash, increase traffic with PPC and even outsource your blog for fantastic material. Most advertising folks of any type, including standard print, radio, TV types, will tell you that a mix is important to cover the bases of how users desire to be advertised to. Given, that you don’t suck at any of the devices you use, else better to drop it.
A recommendation: Just like you don’t have the time to be perfect at everything, be a bit wary of the guy who claims to be a professional in every dang thing, whether it is web design or social media or anything else. It’s difficult to be fantastic at everything. I do LinkedIn effectively, but wouldn’t think to promote my services on anything else I am not an expert at besides technique on which instruments to utilize. I do web video, but a certain type of web video called Executive Video Interviews that maximizes my vocal talent and lack of technical acumen with high-priced video. If an individual you are interviewing is pitching as an A to Z expert (what you really want), be sure there is a firm with several staff members who niche themselves in the distinct tools of the trade.
Monitor Results and Adjust
The interesting thing about online advertising is that it is much simpler to track outcomes than other means, which have constantly had a problem tying in tangible benefits and have promoted the logic that if it spreads your name out there, it must be working. Everything that you get by means of the internet has data you can evaluate (translating them may be a challenge) and make corrections. For example, I just reduced on and changed my Google Adwords campaign based upon what I saw that was working and getting clicked on, AND what pages on my site were getting traffic without the outcomes I wanted. In only a few months I can determine where the weak spot is and take action to correct it.
Just don’t forget to keep your target in mind. For instance, many internet marketing landing pages will have an assortment of pages that the individual must click onto forge ahead in the process. This is done for no small reason to be able to keep track of involvement level of the sales process that is taking place. Data show that every successive page has its percentage of attrition; however those who run the gauntlet are now extremely certified prospects that are very likely to convert to sales. Online marketers can tell who got to the page, who requested the free report, who downloaded the video, and ultimately, who added a product to the shopping cart. This helps you as an entrepreneur know that of your traffic to the website, a certain portion take the next step in the sales process. If you want that to be greater, adjust the landing page.
What are Your Methods to Navigate the Internet Marketing Seas?
Post your comments on what you’ve done to get the most out of your advertising, what gadgets you have settled onto become experts or familiar with, and if you have been befuddled to this point, what you plan to do as your next step. You’ll get a link back to your website and may get highlighted in a future article.
Karl Walinskas is the CEO of Smart Company Growth, a business development firm that helps small to mid-size professional service firms builds competitive advantage in an online world of sameness. He is the author of numerous articles and the Smart Blog on leadership, business communication, sales & service, public speaking and virtual business, and Getting Connected Through Exceptional Leadership, available in the SmartShop. Get your FREE LinkedIn Profile Optimization eBook & Video Course, Video Marketing video and course, or Mastermind Groups e-course & video now.