EXECUTIVE SUMMARY OF PART 3: In the first two parts of this series, it was demonstrated that most small businesses don't have an adequate basic web presence in the first place, nor does the average small business person have the time or ability to fix this problem. As if this Catch-22 wasn't enough, the situation only gets worse. Social media, in all it's forms, is only growing in significance and impact. But this is not the end, either. Mobile marketing ups the ante further. What is a poor business owner to do? Fortunately, there is a solution.
The ground truth and facts, as they are today, is that the vast majority of small businesses are not using social media at all (according to research by Network Solutions, less than 20% at the time of this writing). They are in denial about it's efficacy, usefulness and power – to their own detriment.
Further, of those firms that “do social media,” most are not doing it right. But this should come as no surprise, because as noted above, most small business websites are what I call “dead sites” anyway.
Despite this, the majority of marketing experts would agree that you simply must have a social media presence today. The problem is you’ve got to be a expert at it to do it right (not to mention allocating the necessary time and resources). There’s another Catch-22 for you.
We’re now witnessing the rise of mobile and mobile marketing. The increasing importance of smart phones with graphical interfaces and 4G surfing capability, as well as iPads, tablets and the like, means that small businesses need more than a just website – they need a mobile-ready website. And yes, this means further effort.
Don't assume your website works right on mobile, because if it was built a few years ago (or longer), it probably doesn't. And if it's a Flash-based site (all the rage once upon a time), it simply won't work on a vast swath of mobile devices!
More and more people are searching for what they want to buy online, even if they would prefer to buy locally (and most do). 1 in 3 of those searches are taking place on mobile devices, and that ratio is only going to shift further towards mobile. But if searchers and surfers can’t find a business – or worse yet, can’t access the site even if they can find it – that’s lost business that's probably going to the competition.
Then there’s SMS (texting), which has an 85%+ open rate and gives small businesses the power to reach customers instantly, in real time. SMS can be a business owner’s best friend. But you’ve got to capture that precious cell phone number first, and that requires smart marketing on the front end and careful follow-thru on the back.
A Catch-22 is a paradox. A double bind. A no-win situation. The Small Business Marketing Catch-22 is now a nested one – a series of of Catch-22s, one hidden inside the next, in turn hiding yet another. Daunting, isn't it?
The hard, ugly reality is that most small business owners do not have the time to embark on the very, very steep learning curve to get up to speed with happening in marketing today – much less to try tackling it on their own. Nor do they have the desire or the time. After all, most are already working a more-than-fulltime gig. Which effectively means that most small businesses will either have no marketing at all, or a half-assed hodge-podge at best.
Vertical Response did research on this subject in 2012 and found that:
“Small businesses spend more time on social media, but may struggle with the added workload…. [they] realize the value of content, but again, time is an issue.”
In today's business environment and increasingly competitive local web marketing space, not having a strong online presence is roughly akin to committing business suicide. But having the knowledge and capability to “do it yourself” is a near impossibility, too. Remember the Catch-22s?
Unless your business is a special exception and/or you are exceptionally gifted and/or have more hours in the day than the rest of us have – you are going to need expert help.
You don't try to do your own taxes, do you? For all the same reasons – and many more – it's not a good idea to try and do your own small business marketing these days either. The solution to these modern small business marketing Catch-22s is simple: find and retain a competent and professional marketing firm!
And if you're worried about the costs, don't be. First, modern inbound marketing techniques are far less expensive than traditional marketing – and far more trackable. Second, modern web-based marketing should pay for itself in fairly short order. If it doesn't, it's not working.
In conclusion, a properly implemented small business marketing campaign is far more than just a necessary evil. It should help you expand your business, improve your brand, increase your market share/presence and… of course… make more money!