Can Internet Marketing Help Your Business, this is something a lot of small business owners ask themselves. To coin a phrase "it sure can". In fact I would hazard to say to will become, sometime in the not to distant future, the primary channel for marketing your business outside of direct contact. Internet marketing has evolved from being the shady, no one knows anything about industry to now being one of the main channels for entertainment and information. In large, partly to the efforts of Google and Facebook. They have helped evolve Internet marketing to were it is today and this can help your business evolve as well. You can apply some of their concepts to your business to get results.
I only have a Small Business, I'm no Google or Facebook
Small, locally run businesses need to reach local customers in order to bring in sales. Technology in social media has evolved so much now that social media channels allow you to drill down, identify potential local customers and target them, targeting your marketing to a distinct audience. This has only been possible due to the amount of information the likes of Google and Facebook have collected about us all. They have the ability to identify where you are from, how old you are, what your favorite foods are, favorite movies, your interests, your friends etc. for your business they can tell who your competition is, how big they are, what sort of markets they are in. Starting to get the picture. Information is king. Because they have such a huge pool of information they can allow you to find those that live local and may enjoy your service or business and target advertising at them. On the flip side, they can also provide info to your competition about you. (And you may not have even provided any information, your customers may have) These same concepts can help you and your local business,
This internet marketing thing is just a fad or just for young people
These few words have been the death call for many businesses and will be the death call for many more. If you don't evolve with changing times and move with the changes, soon enough you will find your business declining. If you have this mind set right now, take a look at this post I did a while back about being fenced in. Basically if we don't evolve, we die. This generation, more than any other, has access to information on the go and use it well all the time. You only have to watch people walking down the street or waiting for a train. Head down looking at their phone or tablet.
Establish a bridge to your local customers
This article is just a primer to introduce you to how internet marketing can help your business. You don't have to be like the big boys to gather and utilize information for your business. It can be done in simple ways quickly with little or no cost.
As an example, lets look at a local pizzeria I have in my home town that has been there for quite a while. With just a small amount of effort and very little cost, they started using the internet to market to their local customers.
They provide the best pizza around and are a local company. They don't do a lot of advertising but are well known and their brand is well know locally. Great but their sales do match and they need to get more people coming through the door to order pizza's to keep their business on the up.
The first thing that needs to be done, is to start collecting information about local customers. Their email addresses and mobile numbers are the key to building a bridge.
Running a customer survey offering a small incentive to fill out the survey is a great way to kick things off. It is all about gathering information. Design the survey to collect information about the types of pizza they like, what other fast foods they like, what do they like with their pizza etc. anything that even remotely relates to your customer. But most importantly, their email address and mobile number. Basically collect as much information that is not invasive to their privacy. You may not use it right now, but may find it handy later. (i.e. Local schools they are associated with) With this survey you can start building a picture about your customer and more importantly, get contact information that will form an ongoing bridge to them. Keep doing this as part of the operation of your business on a daily basis, building up your information base with email addresses and contact details. Put in at the front of the counter so it is visible and encourage customers to fill it out.
Once you have a good amount of email addresses and information, (you decide what number is good) you can start to build a contact list. Checkout this article about Mailchimp. It can help build contact lists which you can then market into.
Regular contact with your customer is essential. You need to ingrain who you are, where you are, what you offer. Basically a good brand and product awareness. A weekly newsletter with a bit of local happenings and information as well as a special of the week is a great way to do this. This is like the old pamphlet drops but instead the pamphlet is emailed. Cool eh. Put some local information in there, maybe sourced from a local news source. It doesn't need to be a flash publication, in fact the flashy publications tend to get over looked. People relate more to down to earth, "honest" things. Value added is the key to keeping them interested. Talk to a local school who may run media classes and maybe willing to do some content for free. (You already know the schools to target as your customers filled it in, in the survey 🙂 ) This shows you have links to the local community and is a big plus. It shows you really are local.
Add specials in there somewhere and all of a sudden you are marketing your products to your local community for a bit of effort and very little cost. Get into the habit of doing this on a weekly basis and your customer will become use to seeing this on a regular basis. Even encourage feedback. Very soon, they are going to become accustom to your newsletter and the specials your offering and expect it to arrive, each time, taking advantage of your specials.
Getting the picture. You can also achieve the same success with using mobile numbers but it will take a bit more work and extra cost.
This is just one way of using the internet to market your business. Social media is another good channel. Checkout this article regarding.
We will explore other ways to use the internet to get across to your customers in later articles. Stay tuned. In the mean time checkout this article about Influencer Marketing.
To finish off, here is a great video from Google which talks about to email lists for small business. It is a bit techo but has some great information.
Want to get started, take a look at this article about getting your business on Google+, Google's social media platform.