Regardless of business size, the one commodity business owners don’t seem to have enough of is time. This is the principal reason many small business owners are not as effective at marketing as they would like to be. Their customers are all over the internet, and they know it. The tools available to communicate with potential customers are plenty and the knowledge is out there. The question is, what exactly is the small business owner missing out on?
1) Not Going To Them
Today’s consumer is spending more and more time receiving “a deep monitor tan” and studies show that the trend is increasing with no sign of retreat. These same studies show that brands that effectively market to their customers online have a higher level of engagement than through traditional mediums (TV & Print).
Most business owners today have no clue where to put their advertising dollars online, and for those who do the process of targeting their customers effectively usually falls short of expectations. The web provides us with an almost limitless amount of choices, but the obvious options may seem too daunting a challenge. Luckily this is not the case.
The YouTube Option
If you happen to have some good video production in your corner, YouTube’s advertising platform is easy to set up and manage. The power behind the world’s most powerful content network is at your disposal. SO USE IT! The great news now is that the average small & medium sized business isn’t advertising on these channels just yet. Meaning that while there is certainly competition in these markets it isn’t anywhere near saturation – which will unquestionably begin to occur in the years to come. Getting started now will give your company a leg up on the competition.
Facebook, as a product, is more involved than you think. It is more than a collection of your likes and dislikes. For many of us it is the fiber that weaves our social lives and a promotional tool for our passions. No one is going to argue that Facebook isn’t the juggernaut of today’s online landscape, but what is in question is who is using it properly to reach their audience.
Using Facebook as an advertising platform is more than just splashing the right demographics with display ads, it’s about cultivating a community through good social media marketing. Still, as a basic operating action, display ads on facebook are easy to set up and a must have for any business operating today.
2) Not Doing What’s Expected
Taking Online Orders
For most small businesses the ability to take orders online can be a revolution. However, the reality of the situation is most businesses have little to no presence online, costing them sales opportunities and costumer loyalty. If you look at the microcosm of restaurant delivery it becomes easy to see why having the ability to take orders online can be a real benefit.
Every red dot on the map below denotes a restaurant in the neighborhood of Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
Seamlessweb.com is a service for restaurants that allows them to take orders online without having a custom checkout process or even a website. At the moment, there are only 21 restaurants delivering to the 11222 zip code using this service (out of all the little red dots above). To an early adopter such as myself, this means the choices I have for food have now been focused from over a hundred options to just 21, and my business now goes to the easiest way of getting quality pizza into my belly.
The process behind getting set up is simple enough, but the long term benefits can’t be ignored. The demographics that are using sites like seamlessweb obviously tend to lean younger, meaning the habit of ordering online will be with users for life. Right now Alexa.com has noted their users to be between 18-35, female, and college educated. Over the past two years sites like seamlessweb and grubhub have grown at steady paces and all signs point to further penetration of the consumer market.
3) Not Creating Personal Connections
Direct & Immediate Customer Service
One of the most amazing methods of applying the social web is in customer service. Using sites like Twitter and Facebook to address your customers needs and concerns is an easy way to build lasting bonds with your community.
Time Warner Cable is an excellent example of how to use twitter as a customer service tool (@twcablehelp). They use the site to speak with customers directly and on the fly about their cable service, any news regarding field technician status, and anything related to Time Warner in NYC. The instant nature of Twitter gives customers exactly what they want faster and more efficiently than their automated phone service.
So why not the neighborhood grocery store? “Do you have fresh tuna?” Why not the trendy barber shop? “Can you squeeze me in today? I have an emergency!” The larger brands have in house departments that work on their social presence full time but this shouldn’t deter you from adopting these practices. The flow of customer use for any new technology is gradual, and more importantly managed by you. Allowing your customers easier access to your business is always a good practice, and these social media techniques have been put to the test.