Intro to Online Marketing
So, here I am. I have a business and a great part of my business is about helping your business. Whether you are within my niche of galleries or art, whether you are a specialist, like a coach, an actor/playwright, a restaurant… the marketing game is something that most businesses haven’t focused on because they are busy with their business. No doubt.
And so, I help businesses.
Let’s Start With The Basics: Inbound Vs Outbound
In today’s internet-world, a lot of the help I offer is about inbound marketing. Inbound marketing is a great way of describing the new model of marketing. Ten years ago, marketing and advertising was primarily about television commercials, printed ads or radio. The characteristic of this marketing was out-bound because businesses had to reach out to find prospective clients.
In-bound is about letting prospective clients find you. You don’t try to cross their path, for example in a magazine, but rather you let them come to your business. Today’s marketing offers many online opportunities namely social media, website representation and blogs.
Now We’re Playing Ball
Here’s the thing – today’s marketing probably seems far more confusing for people, but it has several advantages that I’d like to talk about:
- Level Playing Field
- Your Brand
- Your Audience
1 The Leveling of The Playing Field
If you, as an entrepreneur, can embrace the gift of the modern multi-faceted world of online marketing, then you are going to have a great understanding and appreciation for your ability to market. You see, ten and twenty years ago only ‘the big boys’ got to play ball in business because it took so much money to advertise. A television commercial during primetime was more money than your small business was going to earn in a year and for 5 grand you could run your commercial at 2:00 am. Magazine ads were generally within reach but you had to pay a designer for the layout, perhaps a photographer and the cost of the advertisement itself – generally $500 to a couple thousand, depending on the reach or circulation of the periodical.
And that’s just it, they were periods. Traditional marketing had a start and end date or time so that once the commercial was over or the magazine was published again, your business was no longer available to be found.
The level playing field means that small businesses can show up in the same places as companies ten times the size. That is significant because it means you can look equally as professional as a big corporation.
Now, please don’t get me wrong. I’m not bashing traditional advertising at all. We always recommend that clients do as much advertising as they can and be sure to reference their print ads with their Facebook icon or include an update of their printed ad on their Facebook newsfeed.
I am pointing out that your business can be found on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Tumbler- well, the list goes on and on, but you get it- just like Coca-cola, Ford Motor Company or your neighborhood Italian restaurant. Ten years ago that was financially impossible for most small businesses. Now your small business can play ball with the big boys and you can show yourself to be just as great a business because you can be found in the same venues.
2 Your Brand
One of my favorite things to point out to clients and small businesses is that you get TO BE LOUD now! Having an affinity for desktop publishing, I have created many ads and the one thing I always ran into was the limitation of the message an advertisement could get across. After all, how much do you get to say in an ad? Really only one, two or three things like who you are and what special you are offering.
For example, one of our restaurant-clients ran a local printed advertisement for a special Greek Night dinner for which reservations were required. The beautiful ad had a great photo from Greece and had copy announcing the dates, times, and the unique idea behind the food.
We published his advertisement on his Facebook wall, but we also published another ten plus updates about the dinner. We offered people the menu, photos of last quarter’s specialty night, of the live music and the food. We also were able to highlight where to call to make a reservation.
Images are king in the world of communication because, you see, a photo of the restaurant’s exquisite dishes makes your mouth water. If you see several of these via social media, no doubt you’ll be hungry and, at least, curious. So, online marketing isn’t just allowing us to publish the ad for a week, in this case, but it is allowing us to give far more information (the menu, pictures of details about the event such as the music) but it is allowing us to repeat the message and include the sense of taste through the photos. An ambiance is birthed through a small marketing campaign.
Now, for most clients we strongly recommend a blog because it allows far more information. Whether you are selling a five thousand dollar painting, your specialty services or a twenty dollar self-defense tool, people gleam far more of the benefit and gain a greater understanding of your offering when they can read more and see more about it.
So, social media becomes a far stronger salesman for you because it communicates so much more about your offering. Of course, what truly comes across is your brand, as the depth or multi-faceted benefits of your business and its offerings, is the picture that is most painted.
3 Your Audience
Another great advantage of our modern inbound marketing is that, in allowing interested customers to come to you (your Twitter feed, your blog, subscribe to your podcast) and your not having to go out and find them, you get to be more efficient with your marketing. Instead of spending a few thousand dollars on an advertisement that your target audience may or may not see, you can enjoy visibility by your growing community of online followers. After all, there are people who are interested in what you offer. They will want to know when you have a new painting, a new book or the next special dining experience. Instead of having to rely on their seeing your commercial, for example, for far less money you can create your own social media campaign.
Back To 2
These days online inbound marketing allows you to become an expert. No doubt you realize that you know your subject, art or field better than most anyone else you know. You can, undoubtedly, provide a great service or product that helps people in one way or another – the trick is for people to get to know this about you and for this to be your brand. One of our restaurant client-owners travels to the greatest restaurants in the world to add to his recipes; another restaurant specializes in world-class teas and offers unique, delicious and healthy teas (and coffee) that are otherwise difficult to find. We work with art galleries and artists in the third largest art market in the US and they have some of the best art available. We work with a post-graduate school, helping them increase recruitment and make help their program gain visibility.
Yes, every business offers something like no other and there is a world-wide community of people who want to know about your offerings. Online marketing through social media (and more) is a powerful tool that every small business needs to embrace and learn to use well to position themselves for success.
Stay tuned – in the next blog I’ll talk about the different social media platforms and which suites your business most.