Keeping up with what’s new and happening in business is one of the hardest battles for small business owners right now. It’s even more challenging if the business owner is located in isolated or rural areas and has limited contact with other business professionals.
Things are moving very quickly and if you don’t have the means or the ability to attend conferences or rub shoulders with the movers and shakers of industry, it can be really hard to feel on top of things, especially when it comes to marketing. For example, were you aware that the prevailing wisdom is that most company websites will be redundant within 5–7 years and replaced with social media websites?
That’s a scary thought, and annoying to say the least, especially if you have just moved heaven and earth to get yours set up last week! I have experienced this personally in my own consulting work with small business owners. It wasn’t that long ago I was advising my small business clients that the essential ingredients for any marketing toolkit were a hardcopy brochure, a sales letter and a business card. That seems so dated now. And it is.
Even just a few years ago, I was advising my clients that the absolute minimum for their marketing toolkit was a website, a database package and a brochure. But now, my recommendations are very different.
In my opinion, the minimum requirements for any small business marketing toolkit now are a 60-second video introduction on your website, an email sign-up facility with a compelling free offer to incentivise the visitor to leave their details, plus a social media presence.
Pretty different from 10 years ago. Pretty different from just two years ago!
If you are struggling to work out what to pay attention to and what to ignore, here are my top five tips for ensuring your ‘new media’ marketing toolkit is relevant and up to date:
- Create a video introduction for your website
Create a 60-second video and host it on the home page of your website. The video should be of you (or if you are really shy, hire a professional presenter to do it on your behalf) and the script should convey, in a compelling and engaging way, these three key messages:
- Why this? (why does the customer need your product or service?)
- Why you? (why should the customer choose you over all others?)
- Why now? (why should they buy it now and what are the consequences for delaying it?)
- Offer an incentive for web visitors to leave their contact details
You worked hard to get your visitor to your website so go the extra mile and encourage them to leave their details so you can keep in touch with them.
How? Create an eBook or a report for everyone who provides their contact details. The eBook should provide a solution to your customers’ biggest problem. For example, if you sell pools and you know that finding the time to keep the pool clean is one of their biggest headaches, your eBook could be called “How To Keep Your Pool Clean In Less Than 3 Minutes A Day”.
Offer it as a free download if they sign up to your newsletter (oh, yes, you need one of those too and it needs to go out at least every six weeks).
The title of the eBook or report (and the newsletter for that matter) needs to be really catchy. Here’s a quick way to come up with a title: just nominate the key problem, preface it with “How To…” and you’ve got a great title on your hands.
- Start playing with Social Media for fun
Set up a personal Facebook and Twitter account and start playing with them. It’s really wise to get comfortable on Facebook and Twitter personally before you launch your business social media strategy.
- Start now
Social media is still very new for the vast majority so people are really forgiving if you make a mistake or do something dumb. But they won’t be tolerant forever so best to get in now and make your mistakes quickly with minimal collateral damage whilst you can.
- Follow famous people on Twitter
The Dalai Lama, Oprah Winfrey, George Clooney and Richard Branson all have Twitter accounts which means you get access to all their personal thoughts and ideas, uncensored and unfiltered. If you start engaging with content you enjoy, you are more likely to feel inclined to stick around and use the tools more often.
To quote that well-documented phrase by Donald Rumsfeld, sometimes we don’t know we don’t know. Or maybe we do know we don’t know.
Either way, if you are a small business owner it’s imperative you keep abreast of the changes that are going on in the world and take steps to keep up to date with what’s going on. Hopefully these five tips will help make that easier for you.