Social media must be part of your marketing plan if you want to be successful, plain and simple. In most cases the tools of social media are free and this is a plus to small businesses everywhere looking to save money but reach more people. Everyone understands that social media is huge; they just don’t know how to take advantage of it. To understand the huge impact that social media can have on your business look no further than President Barack Obama, quite possibly a social media genius!
How is that someone that hasn’t been in the political game for such a short period of time land the biggest political position of all, president? It’s simple really, he does what any good marketing professional would do, he takes the time to understand his target audience, listens to what it is they are looking for and then he goes after them where they are. For Barack Obama his target audience was the American people, specifically young adults, more specifically young adults who had lost faith in the government because the government was not in touch with the world they were living in.
Granted there was/is a large portion of society that is not pleased with where our government stands, but the key was reaching the young people. He took the time to see what it was people wanted. They wanted a government that understood the people, one that cared about the same things the people cared about… jobs, health coverage and bringing the troops home. The next step was going to where the people were, getting involved in what they were doing, understanding where they were at and keeping contact with them. Bus tours are great… but social media was the key.
There is one fact that every business needs to understand and that is that people like to do business with people they like and they love doing business with people they trust. The only way to establish that like… that trust… is by building a relationship with the people that you want to do business with. How can you possibly build a relationship with people that don’t know you exist and that aren’t located in close vicinity while working with a limited marketing budget?
Here are few things every small business needs to consider:
- The average business awareness is 7%
- 90% of the market is not ready to buy
- To increase awareness you need to have approximated 7 “touches” with your target audience
- A whopping 80% of all new sales take anywhere from 8 to 15 contacts to get a person interested
- The average salesperson will quit after 1 or 2 attempts
- Half of all leads buy in 6 to 18 months
What does this mean to a small business? It means that they are missing out a large number of opportunities to increase sales/profits. What should a small business with a limited marketing budget do?
Social media is what small businesses need to be taking advantage of. President Obama understood that people weren’t going to jump out of their seats and vote for him or donate to his campaign because he gave eloquent speeches, had a great smile and promised something different.
Barack Obama did a social media marketing blitz. You might not look at it as marketing but that is precisely what it was. He blogged, actually he still a blogs, he posts on a regular basis. Talking to the people and maintaining a connection. He uses Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, he has widgets and does Podcasts. Obama understood from the beginning that they only way to get elected was to let people get to “know” him.
He took the time to build the relationship with the people. He got involved in what was going on in the community (the community being the United States) his head was not on playing the game in Washington, D.C. but on creating a relationship, letting the everyday citizen in the US know that he was no different than they were. He vowed to not play politics as usual and he didn’t.
A small business can do these exact same things, with a little effort and a little guidance. All businesses regardless of size should have a website and they should have a blog. It is highly recommended that the blog be updated on a regular basis, this can be done easily with a combination of content created by customers as well as the employees. Take the time to read the posts and respond. It is also a good idea to do a little research and see what blogs are popular in your industry and comment on those, get involved in the conversations that are taking place there.
There has yet to be a business that there isn’t products or books on the market that relate to it. Doing simple things such as reviews on Amazon or Epinions.com will go a long way in reaching the target audience, building relationships and showing that audience that you know what you are talking about.
Small businesses can take advantage of content they already have such as informative brochures, newsletters, flyers and presentations tweaking them a little to post on sites such as ScribD and Slideshare.net. The goal is to get as much information about the small business out there as possible so the target audience can connect with the business. Learning about the company, the people that operate the business, how long they have been in business or at least the experience they have that make them someone to work with.
There is nothing stopping a small business from taking advantage of social media to blow out the competition. If there was ever any doubt that it could be done take a look at a one man business that went on to connect with a country and become its president. Barack Obama used to social media to:
- Raise more than $250 million dollars from everyday people that all donated small amounts of money
- W`in contests in places like Iowa, North Dakota and Montana (to name a few… from Chicago)
- Beat out the Clintons
Small businesses with small or limited marketing budgets can take advantage of social media to compete with mid to large sized companies in the same industry. Take a lesson from a formerly unkown man that is now known all over the world, Barack Obama.