The Small Business Marketing Catch-22 (2)

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY OF PART 2: In the first part of this series, the dilemma facing the most small business owners – in relation to their web marketing – was made clear. Some continue to make use of traditional media – at least to some degree – while others rely on world of mouth and having a business in the right location. But in the age of the internet, social media and mobile marketing, this is no longer sufficient for those that wish to be prominent in their local marketplace, or which wish to grow consistently and rapidly. Effective small business marketing techniques have changed dramatically in recent years. Unfortunately, the environment grows only more complicated and confusing with every passing day – yet harried business owners and entrepreneurs have less time and attention for keeping up, much less “doing their marketing.” This is a terrible Catch-22 for most businesses… but not the only one.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

small business marketing catch 22 - "You're telling me we have to do what now online?" by
In Catch-22, The Boss (a general, if I remember correctly) is an out-of-touch, self-satisfied nincompoop, surrounded by toadies and yes men (oh, and hookers). When ugly reality comes uncomfortably close to home, he goes into denial until there is no more denying it, then into incredulity phase at realizing he must – finally, really – do something. This is much like most business owners and entrepreneurs today, dealing with the nearly endless complications of small business marketing.

Today, it’s all about the web. Tomorrow (and I don’t mean a distant tomorrow, either) it’s about mobile. Let’s deal with “today’s” Catch-22, before dealing with tomorrow’s.

Ever since the rise of the internet, the ground has been shifting beneath the feet of the vast majority of small business owners, and most are only vaguely aware of it – despite the accompanying upheavals! Case in point: according to research, about 50% of small businesses don’t have a website at all, or have one which is out of date, busted or hasn’t been touched in years.

In the year 2013!

Do you find this shocking? You should. And it's a shame. Because the web can be a small business' best friend. And it's a cheap date, too! So if it's your business (and website) that fall into the above category, then I humbly submit that you need to make some changes – right quick!

Small businesses need to appear on page one of Google (which still gets 70%+ of all search traffic) for the keywords people are searching for. This is done through a combination of great onsite content and proper offsite promotion and linking. Proper SEO (search engine optimization), in other words. If Google Places/Maps are present in the search results (which is not always the case), businesses need to be showing up there, too.

Why? Most web surfers never go past page one, and about 70% of the clicks go to the top three listings. If the Google Places/Google Maps boxes are present, many consumers never look beyond them – which is exactly what Google intends. That's great for you, of course, if you're “on the map” – and not so great if you're not!

NOTE: The Small Business Marketing Infographic Series posted on this site has three free tests you can take to evaluate your web presence and assess just how well your online marketing is doing. Or not, as the case may be. We recommend you check it out!

Whereas the Yellow Pages can print as many pages as is needed for a section, there are only a very limited number of slots on page one of any particular category. The good news is that in many markets, page one is wide open and ripe for the taking. The bad news is that this will not obtain forever, and permanent victory will most likely go to those who “seize the high ground” now.

Wait a while, and it will be really, really hard to break into page one. Wait long enough, and it will be nigh-on to impossible!

So even as small business owners struggle to adapt to the critical need for a strong basic web presence in order to “rank” on page one – using their site, Google Places/Maps, various listing directories, articles/blog posts and videos and SEO (search engine optimization) – it’s not nearly enough anymore, either.

Email remains one of the most effective and powerful means of reaching prospects and customers. There are so many ways to monetize email lists, it's actually astonishing. Serious internet marketers have been doing this for years. But most small businesses do not collect email addresses from site visitors or customers or build a list at all. This represents not only lost traffic, potential and revenue, but a missed opportunity for long-term relationship building as well.

The advent of social media – Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google Plus One, etc. – has entirely changed the small business marketing game. Again. It’s no longer sufficient to have just a website and call it a day (not that it really ever was). Google is now looking at social activity (“social proof” in the trade) as a prime indicator of the value of your site and other web properties.

According to the Search Engine Journal:

“Social Media has become a critical piece of the overall SEO puzzle. Shares, likes, follows, and +1′s are all known to positively impact overall ranking for a website.”

Get lots of social activity and you'll be rewarded with better search engine results. Get little or no social activity, and you'll be penalized. Period. End of story.

In Part 3, you'll see why new media marketing is not just an “should do,” but a must do!

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