For decades, most small business relied on advertising in the Yellow Pages, billboards, church bulletins and maybe the occasional TV and radio spots advertising their services. These marketing tactics all relied on brand awareness so when people went to buy a product or service they remembered your name and chose your service over another. However, in the last five years, people have made a remarkable shift to searching online for products and services and are now taking recommendations from Forusquare, Yelp and Facebook friends. Due to this shift, small business owners are beginning to see the power of digital marketing and adjusting their marketing dollars to those fields. According to Management Direct:
Small business will allocate 30% of their marketing budgets to traditional advertising by 2015 (down from 52% in 2010). The remaining 70% being budgeted to:
- Digital/online media such as mobile, social marketing, and online display
- Performance based commerce like Groupon or pay-per-click ads
- Customer Retention solutions like email marketing, websites, event marketing online.
The problem that each small business will need to solve in the next four years will be how do we run digital marketing campaigns? Other campaigns were relatively simple affairs that took a few days to design and place and once those ads were placed, they required no more maintenance. Digital marketing flips that whole concept on its hard. In a few hours, you can be advertising on Google and Facebook and reach a huge audience of people looking for your product or service. However, you can't set it and forget it for three reasons:
- It can be very expensive if you just let it run and don't measure your results
- You can end up ignoring customers when they use Twitter or Facebook to ask you a question or complain about you in a public forum
- Without regular email marketing updates, the customer tends to forget what you guys offer.
So in order to take advantage of digital marketing, small business will need to make a choice between learning and doing it yourself or hiring a firm and having them manage it for you. Both strategies can work, but both require discipline, hard work and most importantly continue measurement of ROI to ensure those dollars are being spent correctly.