Evolution of Small Business Marketing
by Bob Ogdon
Over the years, many small businesses have begun to incorporate social networking into their marketing practices. At first, it was hard to choose which method to incorporate with so many networking options available. Eventually, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn emerged as the most used, and many would argue the best social networks around. While the information flow was valuable, it proved also to be overwhelming. How could you insure your message was heard above all of the other noise?
In seeking the answer to this question, we were reminded of a simple, yet important truth- most people still use email as their primary method of communication. Social media has not replaced email. In fact, messages generated through social media rely heavily on email for their effective delivery. Just think, how do you know when someone has written you a Facebook message?!
In the effort effectively utilize the social media tools available, you are likely trying to keep your company Facebook page up to snuff and continuing to grow your fan page. You may Tweet throughout the day, looking for new strategies to engage an audience. Perhaps you connect through LinkedIn, initiating discussions and sharing news with your already interested network. And conceivably you send out highly targeted email blasts and collect data that tells you how the recipients interacted with your email. You may even automatically generate a call list of your hottest leads to follow up with a personal conversation and close the deal.
So what’s NEXT?
The next step the small business audience must take is to learn how to market to the audience we do not have yet. We must explore ways to grow business through lead acquisition and lead management. New tools are required. Tools that can automatically deliver the lists we generate to print, to mail, and to the out bound calling process. Tools that will track emails and procure data in one seamless solution.
Unfortunately, we face a dilemma that revolves around one word, “permission”. Even if you have a list of leads, you cannot send email unless you have already acquired permission from each contact. Setting up a direct mail program to drive prospective clients to your website is not targeted enough. And cold calling your prospects to gain “email permission” hardly seems like an effective use of time…
But what if you put it all together into one effective campaign? Gather leads directly from an interface you are familiar with. Set up a direct mail program that points to a dedicated landing page. Include a form on the landing page that calculates and captures a lead’s level of interest. Automatically send out a series of emails based on their interest level. Generate reports that will track and rank the email recipients and create a call list that begins with those most interested in your product. Now that’s a proper call list! Just think how much easier it will be to pick up the phone and dial your very own qualified leads that you already know want your call.
These are just some of the exciting tools that small businesses can take of advantage of in the future.