Social Media - The Cost-Effective Key to Attracting New Customers
Have you ever heard the parable of the hot dog cart? The story has been around since the Great Depression and became a staple of business and marketing classes ever since. This version of the famous tale was published in an American newspaper, "The Kentucky New Era" in 1959. Sadly, the original writer's name appears lost in the mists of history. (see the picture at the top of this story or click here to view in a new browser tab.)
This story may resonate with modern readers, especially those in Alberta's battered economy. With daily reports of doom and gloom from the oilpatch and related industries (which, in this province is all of them) life is challenging for business owners. The temptation to react like the hot dog vendor and cut back on marketing is both very strong... and very wrong.
Where Our Hot Dog Magnate Erred
When your traditional customer base erodes due to a struggling economy, the last thing you want to do is nothing. Replacing lost sales is essential and the best way to find new customers is through increased, not reduced, marketing initiatives. When advertising dollars are scarcer than frugal politicians, this may seem counter-intuitive but there is much truth to the old saw that, "you have to spend money to make money".
Marketing in the New Millennium
For some business people, 'marketing' sounds like mumbo-jumbo with only sketchy promises of increased sales. Worse yet, marketing sounds expensive when profits are plunging like a Kardashian neckline. Luckily, though, an impactful marketing campaign doesn't need to be pricey. Having an effective, attractive website and a robust social media presence is an amazingly affordable method of reaching new customers. Compared to traditional marketing measures, a website/social media marketing thrust may be the most cost-effective advertising endeavor a business can make. Consider these alternatives:
- Television - A 15 second ad on CBC with a regional reach, is about $20.000 for an average run. (Source: CBC News report) This may be the most expensive marketing option despite the fact TV is rapidly losing ground to online content such as YouTube, Netflix and Hulu.
- Radio - $20.00 per appearance between 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM or $7300/year for a once/day ad, or just over 90 minutes worth of air time. (Source: quote from a medium-market radio station in central Alberta) - Radio Ads in Edmonton start at $90.00 for each 30 second spot.
- Print: -The smallest display ad offered in a major city daily paper is 1/16 of a page (3" X 2.3/8") and costs $361/day plus $421 Sunday for a total of $2587 for a 1 week run or more than $130,000/year. The audience is limited to those who get the paper, see the ad and actually read it. (Source: Edmonton Sun Rate Card)
You "Gotta Have" Social Media
One of the best reasons to consider the website/social media marketing option is the driving force behind the initiative is a professionally-designed website. This is fortunate since, in today's business world, having an effective website is an absolute must anyway. Today's consumers have embraced the habit of "Googling" companies before dealing with them with gusto. In fact, according to this Social Times report, over 80% of shoppers do online research before making any purchase. If you have no website or have one designed by yourself or amateurs, you are missing a basic necessity of a modern company. A business website nowadays is as essential as a mailing address or business cards. (See this report for more about the dangers of a DIY website.)
Why Social Media Marketing Works
Don't think about advertising on Social Media as running Ads. Think about it as keeping engaged with people. Develop a personality and a reputation on Social Media. Compared to more expensive, traditional marketing methods, using social media to promote your website is far more effective in numerous ways such as:
- The "ad" (AKA your website) is available to potential customers 24/7, 365 days of the year. Some people actually spend this amount of time on Facebook. You should be there too!
- The geographic reach of a website is not limited to a small region such as print, radio and TV ads, but to the entire planet.
- Your central message can be changed quickly and easily for enhanced responsiveness to changing market conditions or new industry realities.
- Unlike all other advertising options, social media marketing can develop a loyal following and enjoy "organic reach". This means your followers help to promote your business site through their own social media channels. It is like an army of volunteers putting up posters of your company in cyberspace. The effectiveness of such word-of-mouth advertising is legendary.
Social Media Marketing Making Sense? Here's Your Next Step
- A Digital Marketing Strategy doesn't just happen. Here's how to build one:
- Make sure your site information is correct, even consulting with industry experts if necessary. One of the advantages which websites provide is to establish your business as an authority in your field and any wrong information can call your expertise into question.
- Don't just create a Facebook page and relax because you "did" social media. A comprehensive strategy relies on including all the Social Media sites your customers frequent, as well as those that may benefit your own business interests.
- Monitor new client interactions quickly and post interesting content daily.
- A value-adding back-linking strategy is essential. These links connect your site with other sites of relevance to your website visitors, (and won't get you banned from search engines as some will).
- It's super-important to develop a website that people can find in the search engines! If people can't find it, the website is just an expensive business card no one will see. Spend time optimizing your website to improve your search engine positioning. This requires an expert who knows the search engine rules, since strategies from even just 5 years ago will get you banned today. Be careful you don't do something that will get you de-listed
- Your home page must speak to the visitor and tell them immediately what you sell and how to get it, plus convey that you are a serious professional business so they will trust you enough to buy your products and services. By-the-way, studies show you have about 3 seconds to deliver these complex messages before your site visitors hit the back button to search again.
- Ensure you have a fast-loading, eye-catching, search engine optimized, expertly-developed website. The web pages must be "mobile responsive" which means they are equally readable on a small smartphone screen as they are on a large CPU monitor. (This article will explain the importance of "mobile responsiveness".) You can contact INM for a free website appraisal to ensure your website meets all those important criteria.
- Bring the world to your website on a daily basis by engaging with social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube and Yelp. If you lack the time, skill or desire, INM can perform social media engagement on your behalf. (Click here for more ideas on promoting your website with social platforms. )
- Continually change up your webpages with new photos and blogs. This will provide content for an informative newsletter and establish your industry bona fides while improving your search rankings and garnering new sales leads. (See this report to learn how a photo gallery can make a huge difference to your website success.)
The Call You Need To Make Today
If you are interested in discussing how social media marketing can increase your company's sales performance, contact Industrial NetMedia for your free marketing appraisal or call us at 780-739-5850. After all, you do not want to be like the hot dog vendor!