“We want to create value for you by sharing marketing tips and timesavers” – O’C&K.
Can your customers find you – online?
No one ever said that change was easy. I referred to the need for established businesses to adapt to the changing environment on a previous blog, but for some SMEs the necessity of having an online presence and using social media for word of mouth referrals, is not being taken seriously.
Unfortunately, the result is that some businesses, having spent years building up their reputation, are beginning to lose out, evidenced by a drop in natural ‘footfall’ or even word-of-mouth referrals. They then approach us, wondering what is happening to their market share and how can they fix it.
We explain that in the main, it is because the general public has more choice available to them with the emergence of ecommerce. In addition, they also now have the means to and are choosing to, block out commercial messages that aren’t relevant to them. If your company is not at least on the online playing field, your chances of being found by prospects are slim.
Let’s face it if I’m in the market for a particular item / service, my first port of call is probably going to be a Google search. Just like years ago, if we needed a tradesman to call to our home, for instance, we looked up the Yellow Pages. Nowadays, even if a friend or a family member do give you a referral, you’re more than likely going to start your research with that referral but will still browse further to see what other comments people might have made about them. So, what happens therefore if I can’t find your website or any mention of your brand on social media? Well, I’m probably going to go with a competitor who is online and whom I can check out. And I can do that, wherever and whenever I want to – on my phone.
This post is not meant to be a technical one so I’m not going to delve into Search Engine Optimisation, (SEO) or mobile responsiveness, but SMEs, in particular, really need to be a bit smarter about managing an online presence. When done right, at least it can help create brand awareness and at the top end, develop brand advocates (people talking about how good you are).
In no way am I suggesting that all the ‘old ways’ are bad (or dead), however I am saying that change is always going to happen. If your customers are changing how they purchase, well then you need to change with them. When you think of it, what being online does is it facilitates your interaction with existing clients and prospects and why would you want to dismiss that.
Integrate your marketing activity.
It is probably worth noting at this stage that being on social media or having a great website is not going to solve all your marketing requirements. It also depends on how you integrate all of your marketing activity and how you use the various online options available. For instance, we have noticed some SMEs that join Twitter, for example, operate it just like they would a direct mailing programme or a regular advertising campaign. This is totally the wrong way to approach your online presence, and it will not work. The only reason, in our opinion, for businesses to use social media marketing is to build relationships by networking. This way, prospects will get to know you, like you and even trust you, over time.
Another error that SMEs appear to make online is that they treat social media activity like a separate marketing campaign. They become distracted by the ‘new tools’ and forget that whatever your brand message is – it should be used consistently across all media, including social. It is still you! Consistency of brand message is a must because everything, when aligned, paints the picture of how you want your brand to be perceived.
You’re probably sick of hearing this, but people don’t buy from brands – they buy / connect with people. If you are not being yourself on social media you will get lost in the melee of brands wasting their time. Let yourself shine through, and people will learn about what you do, because they will be interested to find out. Solve a problem for them and bingo – you have a new customer.
Tips and Timesavers.
Here’s what we suggest you do, right now:
- Don’t treat your business like nothing is changing – be smarter than your competitors.
- Stop making excuses to not have an online presence – start in a small way, at least.
- Don’t worry about having the expertise – up skill a colleague or outsource (to us).
- Plan to include online activity – don’t just repeat last year’s marketing activity.
If you have any other tips or timesavers please leave a reply below. If you’d like to receive similar content, just subscribe by clicking through the pink button, on this page. Of course if you want to get in touch, leave your details and perhaps we might meet for a chat, cheers. Jim – O’C&K