Posts Tagged ‘ email ’

Is all that tweeting, facebooking and blogging worth it?

 

“So, should I be tweeting every day?”

The question was aimed at Jonathan Huth, a partner in a new Toronto-based marketing firm called Conversion. He was leaving work and got into a conversation with one of his new neighbours, another small business owner – who was clearly hoping for a little free advice.

Huth’s short answer: “Well, if you’re doing it just to be doing it, it’s probably not worth doing!”

That little exchange says a lot, it seems to me.

First, plenty of entrepreneurs are eager to harness the power of social marketing and cash in on what appears to be free promotion. But many of them are also completely unsure of how to exploit it properly.

Huth’s response points out that social media need to be used strategically. If you haven’t thought about the goal you intend to achieve and the way in which you’ll achieve it, all that tweeting and facebooking and blogging could be a giant waste of time and energy.

“Making noise on the internet can be like standing in a bar waving your arms and yelling,” Huth tells me. “You can attract attention – it doesn’t mean you’re going to build a relationship.”

Of course, the relationship business people want to build through social media is that of buyer and seller. For entrepreneurs hustling to pay the bills and see their company generate revenue, the ultimate goal of any type of marketing is to make more sales.

“We called our company Conversion because that’s what we’re trying to do for our clients,” explains Huth. “Convert clicks into customers.”

But not all entrepreneurs can afford to hire an agency to assist them. It’s tempting to tap into the free marketing resources on the web itself, such as Duct Tape Marketing. You can also find sites offering strategies to help you raise your company’s Google ranking.

But as always, anything that’s do-it-yourself is time-consuming and, as they say in the drug commercials, results may vary (i.e., they may suck). Considering the heavy workloads so many small business owners carry, is it worth the time and energy required to figure out an effective way to use social media?

Well, there are plenty of encouraging case studies out there.

At Roy Foss Motors, a GM dealer in Toronto, the vice-president of business development (and the founder’s 24-year-old grandson) has taken a big interest in social marketing. He says that while the strategy isn’t especially effective for big-ticket purchases like cars, the dealership sees potential.

“We recently offered e-coupons on Facebook,” says James Ricci. “We offered a 10 per cent discount off a service visit and it generated 140 appointments and $13,000 in sales.”

Hard numbers aren’t always easy to find, though.

Victoria’s Renaat Marchand (who got an investment deal on the first episode of CBC-TV’s Dragons’ Den last week) is a 48-year-old carpenter turned waffle-seller turned Twitter devotee. He can’t say exactly how much his tweeting has increased his sales but adds that “I’m 100 per cent sure it’s doing good things for my business.”

A good thing

He’s like several small business operators I spoke to for this column — unsure of exactly what they’ve spent on their social marketing program in terms of time, not clear on what it’s done for their bottom line, but convinced it’s a good thing to do.

Then again, isn’t it often a challenge to measure the effectiveness of marketing and advertising? It seems to me that social media are still at the stage where they require a leap of faith.

Traditional Advertising Still Works

It is obvious and undeniable that marketing over the past 20 years has made huge shifts towards tech-based methods. Email, banners, pay per click and social marketing are increasingly more popular each year. However, what is often overlooked is the fact that traditional advertising still accounts for the lions share of the market. Unfortunately, many marketers overlook this fact and focus most of their efforts on web-based strategies. This alienates a huge portion of your potential market.

So what is “traditional marketing”?  By traditional marketing I have referring to everything other than web-based.  This would include things like newspaper ads, fliers, snail mail, radio ads, television and virtually any other non-tech method you can think of.  These are tried and proven techniques used for over 100 years!  It would be wise to implement a good mix of these into your overall marketing strategy.

Newspapers ads can be very effective as they are read by many many users.  Small classified ads in newspapers are innexpensive and affordable.  But don’t limit yourself to just newspapers.  Their are many niche magazines, zines and other local publications where you can advertise in for very cheap.  You can even research online for companies that will post your ad in many different publications for one fee.  You would be surprised to see how cost effective this can be.  Keep your target audience in mind when choosing which publications to advertise in.  Try to choose an audience that you think would be receptive to your offering.

If you are on a shoe string budget, you can try what I call guerrilla techniques such as fliers, signs and even swap marts.  You can make your own fliers with your pc and distribute them locally.  Just be sure to distribute them in lawful ways and that you are sensitive to the type of audience you are targeting.  If you will be promoting your products to the “general” public, you may want to make sure your website is “G-rated”.  You can easily choose only to add appropriate non-vulgar products to your site such as lotions and lingerie.  The same strategy would work well if you set up a booth at a local swap mart.  Simply showcase the items that are appropriate for that type of audience.

Snail mail is another often overlooked method of getting the word out there about your store.  This could be used as a way to target your previous customers or people who have signed up for your newsletters.  Again, keep the material g-rated so as not to offend anyone.

For those that have deeper pockets, radio ads and television is obviously king.  However, its probably alot less expensive than most people think it is.  If you choose to try these methods, focus on niche markets and networks.  It doesnt have to be prime time on ABC.  There are many smaller cable networks where the cost is quite affordable yet they still reach a sizable audience.  There is a ton of information online about these types of marketing campaigns.

Ultimately, the optimal marketing strategy will include a little bit of everything.  We have all heard the expression, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” and this is true for marketing as well.  A combination of many different techniques both online and offline will assure you a constant stream of traffic to your website and hopefully more sales too!