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Putting your marketing money where your social media mouth is

Thursday, September 17, 2015 - 07:00
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A great and affordable (free!) starting place for your digital journey would be a partnership between Google and the Small Business Administration (The federal General Services Administration), where they "have partnered to educate local businesses about how to succeed online. Each video describes how a small business owner successfully uses the internet to grow his or her business. It's important to be where your customers!": Tools for Online Success

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Social Media Marketing, by its very nature, is living, breathing and hopefully finds a way to be engaging. Considering how our customers and would-be customers search for goods and services, our very worst action in this environment is to do nothing and to be invisible and to those looking for the services we provide. We have to be where our customers are and seen as a provider of the services they need. Even being a bit off center and seen in a negative light (bad review) is better than being invisible. If nobody is seeing you, you have no chance to grow, you have no chance to prosper, and you have no chance of attracting new customers. If you are not attracting new customers, you have no chance of survival.

What does a shop owner have to do to get started with social media marketing? What does a shop owner have to do to make him or herself more visible? The answer to these questions is both easy and very complex. The easy part is deciding that you want to be part of the conversation and fundamentally change the way you communicate, engage, acquire and retain customers.

As with any marketing, it is best to start with a plan that has a framework, a budget, and clearly defined goals. Since social media marketing will only represent a portion of your total marketing effort, your plan needs to seamlessly integrate with your broad marketing plan and even complement those efforts.

Here are 8 considerations to get you started.

1.      Set reasonable goals and meet them – ROI, Timelines, and Areas of improvement

2.      Create a budget and live by it: Marketing (all forms) should be 4% of total sales

3.      Integrate Social Media marketing efforts with your existing marketing plan:

4.      Measure it so you can manage it- Know where you are and where you want to go  

5.      Know who you are trying to reach and where to reach them - Demographics

6.      Be part of the conversation on Social Media and let it go wherever it goes:

7.      Focus on quality content versus quantity - That saying about first impressions…

8.      Be willing to learn and be willing to try something new – Make some mistakes!

Because most shop owners are very busy and because social media marketing requires time, attention to detail and follow-up, I strongly recommend hiring a professional to develop, implement and oversee a plan unique to your operation. That doesn't let you off the hook. Somebody needs to communicate the vision and values your shop represents (honesty, quality, price, convenience, etc.), and somebody needs to set the expectations and budget and somebody needs to oversee performance. That somebody is you!

It's 8:00 o'clock. Do you know where your customers are?

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