As a marketing consultant working with a lot of small and micro-businesses, I come across many small biz owners that want to drive sales to their company the cheapest and fastest way possible, even if that means taking a few short cuts here and there.
OK, I get it, times are tough and no one wants to waste a penny and everyone I talk to needs more customers. Many folks hear that Social Media Marketing is “Free” or nearly free and therefore, they want in now, quickly and with immediate results (meaning sales). Hey, don’t we all if this option is at all possible? I mean, sheesh, there’s at least a 3 offers a day for a seminar that is going to teach me “the secrets to using social media for FREE and FAST incremental business”. If they offer a class in it, it must be “real”, right? To which I answer, yeah, sort of.
- Have a grasp of marketing fundamentals. Otherwise some of these classes can make you really good at spamming and actually driving people away. If you want to be a good Social Media Marketer, you still need to be a good marketer in general. People that say the “old ways” of marketing are extinct are wrong. Marketing fundamentals still apply – even in this brave new world.
- Have a significant amount of disposable time on your hands (which most of the business owners I talk to do not). I am not saying that if you have a limited amount of time, you can’t do social media marketing, but, you must have enough time to develop a strategy and implement this marketing just like any other marketing. If you don’t have time to plan a marketing campaign “off line”, you won’t have time to plan one online either. If you don’t have time to spend on advertising, you probably don’t have time to build relationships through social networking either.
- Have a realistic expectation that social media is more like farming (you plant the seed, nurture it with sun and water, and reap what you sow) vs. expecting instant high volume results with minimal effort. Can you get some instant traction with social media marketing? Yes. Will it be high-volume and instantly convert to sales? In most cases, especially if you are a professional services company or brick and mortar company, probably not. But, you can definitely increase the leads you generate and the loyalty of your customer base.
Is Social Media Marketing the salvation for cash strapped business owners looking to drive in more business? Maybe, depending on whether your prospects hang out online, how much time you have to invest, how well you build your relationships with them, and whether you engage them and market to them or spam them.