Your Online Marketing Plans Should be Offline Too

I see it all the time: small business owners who are frustrated that the social media network they’ve been trying for a few months hasn’t really grown or helped them, and so they give up digital marketing altogether.

Yet, when I speak to them personally about it, it turns out they did little more than set up a Facebook page (hopefully not a Facebook profile), a Twitter username, or a LinkedIn account. Then they sent out a few posts—advertising their brand or products—and waited for users to find them.

Guess what? It doesn’t work that way. In past articles I’ve covered what to post (and it’s not advertisements), but now I want to talk about the “waiting for users” problem I see all the time.

The fact is, approximately 48% of small businesses have some type of presence on Facebook. Considering there were 27.5 million small businesses in the US in 2009, there has to be well over 13 million small businesses with presences on Facebook today. And they are all competing for the users’ attention.

Think about it this way, about half of all businesses in Las Cruces and El Paso are on Facebook. If you have any local competitors, they are sure to be there too. You are both, then, competing for the almost 400,000 users in the area. How do you get them to notice you and not your competition?

There are a few things you can do, but the most important thing to remember is to not simply wait for people to find you. You have to be proactive and help them find you.

First of all, put your Facebook address and other usernames on absolutely everything you can, online and off. This seems so simple it almost hurts to state it. If you don’t let customers know that you are on these channels, how do you expect them to find you? Put it on your menu, your receipts, your business cards, your letterhead, your billboards, your print and TV ads—everywhere!

Next, integrate offline promotions with online platforms. Use new technologies—like QR Codes (those square bar-codes that consumers scan with their smart phones)—to power promotions that are based online. You can, for example, put a QR code somewhere in your business, and then announce on Foursquare, Facebook, Twitter or elsewhere that by scanning that code and showing it to an employee the customer will get a coupon or other payoff.

Then ask customers to look you up on these platforms when you interact with them in person (again, such a simple concept that so few actually follow). Whenever you interact with customers, let them know verbally that you are on the platform you most often use. Let them also know what they will get out of connecting with you on that platform—special deals, coupons, etc. Finally ask them to look you up and connect with you on the platform when they get the chance.

Finally, make the promotion of social media an objective of offline traditional media marketing. From printed newspaper ads, to television spots and billboards, you should creatively integrate your usernames and addresses of the various platforms. What’s more, you should actually make your social media platforms the point of these ads. After all, if through traditional advertising you are given permission to engage with someone online and keep your brand in front of them, you’ve been given the chance to create a loyal, perhaps life-long customer.

Social media is one of the most effective forms of communication to come along since perhaps the television, but understanding how to use it is the key to a small businesses’ success. Unlike television-based marketing campaigns social media marketing campaigns never end, and so your promotion of your social media should be never ending as well.

Word One Consulting
575-496-6807
clint @ wordoneconsulting.com
2263 S. Main
Las Cruces, NM 88005