Dec 30, 2010

Small Business Marketing Insights for 2011

Small Business Trends ran a great article about a survey conducted by GrowBiz Media that was conducted to see what small business' attitude toward marketing is in 2011.
Here are some of the most interesting insights:
  • Only about 1/3 of respondents currently use social media which is consistent with other surveys I've read. That means that 2 out of 3 businesses don't use what is arguably the hottest marketing tool out there. Talk about a competitive advantage.
  • Yet only 13 percent of respondents planned on increasing their social media marketing budgets next year. Beyond their websites, which garnered an increase of 17%, the other big increases are going to more traditional marketing including direct mail (15 percent), email marketing (15 percent) and print ads (10 percent).
  • What's surprising is how 86 percent of respondents said that word-of-mouth is important to their businesses. Really? If that's the case, then they truly don't understand that social media is the new word of mouth! One Tweet on Twitter could be viewed by tens of thousands of people. Get a fraction of those viewers to make the jump to your Facebook Fan Page or website and that's significant exposure that traditional marketing simply can't touch.
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I have to admit that I fully believe in the results of the survey as I encounter similar issues with small businesses all the time.
They're leery of social media and continually revert back to what they're comfortable with. And that includes yellow pages, direct mail, print ads, etc.
I'm all for using marketing vehicles that work including traditional marketing vehicles. But the issue is that most small businesses don't measure the effectiveness of those vehicles.
Here are a couple thoughts on how to make sure you're maximizing your marketing dollars:
Make sure it's measureable so you can count redemptions. Whether it's direct mail, email, or a print ad, always have some type of offer in it or other reason that requires customers to bring in the marketing piece to get the deal. That way, you can see the quantity of redemptions you're getting in order to determine whether it's driving traffic to your store. But don't expect much as direct mail typically has less than a 3% response rate.
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Track it. Counting how many postcards were brought in is just the first step. You also need to track sales. Many POS systems can do this for you simply by entering a specific code attached to the offer. If your system can't do that, simply log it on a spreadsheet. You'll not only want to log the quantity of postcards that are brought in, but you'll want to log the associated sales as well. This is a critical step that many small businesses miss. Let's say you spent $500 on printing and postage for the direct mail postcard, but only three customers brought in the postcard but they spent a combined $2000, then that was a great use of your marketing dollars.

Social media just costs time. So many small businesses are so overwhelmed by social media that they're afraid to dip their toe in, thinking it's going to overtake their lives. Well, it can if you let it. But it doesn't have to. The key is to make sure you're doing it and doing it consistently. That's it. Post once a day on Facebook. Drop a couple Tweets onto Twitter. If you're not on social media, you're going to get left behind. Remember, there's a whole generation of people that don't use email, that don't read newspapers. Their very existence is tied to social media and their phones. If you're not developing a relationship with them in their media of choice, there's no way you'll get them to visit your store. 

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