Why do some businesses stick around and others don't?
Is it really just a matter of some businesses being born as a good idea and others as a bad idea?
Every day. In fact, according to the SBA, over 50% of small businesses fail in the first five years.
I speak to small business owners and entrepreneurs on a daily basis. I'm often baffled when the discussion of marketing comes up and I ask, because it's my job to ask, what they are doing to promote their work or their business.
I hear over and over again that they don't have a full marketing plan. Now, let's be clear, that's not how they say it. Here are some of the actual responses I get:
- "We advertise in the yellow pages and that seems to work. But not anyplace else, not really."
- "We advertise in the newspaper and put out coupons."
- "We don't really advertise."
- "There isn't a budget for that and we're doing fine without it."
I hear these responses over and over again. Some of these businesses seem to be doing fine. I think. I don't really know. Most of them I had never heard of before but that's because they don't have any marketing or advertising plans in progress online or offline.
It doesn't have to be that way. Don't fail at marketing your business!
When more than half of all small businesses will fail in the first five years is marketing really something you don't think you should be doing?
Now here are some of the things that I hear from more successful companies and entrepreneurs:
- "We have an agency who manages that for us."
- "We use traditional media and have a Facebook page."
- "We advertise on Google."
- "We are in newspapers, phone book, Facebook, Twitter, and we have an in-house person that manages that for us."
Notice that the successful companies are often doing a blend of traditional and social media strategies to get the word out about their businesses.
Blending different strategies is a great idea. You should be blending your online marketing strategies just like you blend your traditional.
Companies that diversify their online marketing efforts win!
When I think of a company that's doing it right one of the top companies I think of in the photography industry is Think Tank Photo. They make great camera bags (I have two) that are rugged and stylish. They have embraced online marketing and social media to create a great brand.
Here's what I've seen them do to increase brand awareness and create a demand for their product.
- They reach out to photography bloggers and offer bags to be reviewed. This is old hat and it still works well. This helps them get the word out about new bags and creates inbound links to wherever their products are sold. They don't ask for favors or good reviews. They ask for honest reviews.
- They are active on Twitter and Facebook. They respond to their community and engage in conversations with influencers in their niche.
- They participate in co-branding efforts like contests and giveaways on websites and blogs. This is so easy for them to do. A photography blogger or website admin contacts them and says "we're looking for prizes for our contest". Think Tank Photo gives them a bag or two and provides a logo for the contest page and now they get highly targeted advertising and probably some more inbound links to their website.
I'm sure that they do much more than this but these just popped in my head. It works. It's a well rounded strategy of online marketing that hits their targeted market at various points.
All of this sends people to their website where they can educate people about their products, get them to sign up for their newsletter, or contact customer service. Various points of entry for the many potential customers in their varying stages of purchase.
You have to do that if you are an entrepreneur or a small business owner. You should have marketing efforts that are popping into people's lives as they naturally work themselves around the web. It shouldn't be intrusive. It can be educational, inviting, and fun.
Having a company Facebook page isn't enough. Not any more. Not that it ever was. Don't fail at this.