Here’s Why Your Small Business May Not Need a Social Media Presence

Have you thought about your social media efforts lately? Everybody says you should devote time to building your presence but how much? Your business grows by concentrating your efforts on tasks that generate direct revenue but if you’re not investing time into growing the business, the business will slow to a halt.

You can find more articles about social media for entrepreneurs than you have time to read and most say the same thing: by investing time into likes, retweets, and pins, your business will grow. But the reality appears to be much different. Social media is saturated. Getting noticed is about as easy as standing in a stadium full of business owners and being one of the few that stands out.

Let’s look at a few social media strategies that you won’t find in the bulk of the advice articles.

1) Don’t Use it!- Does it feel like small business blasphemy? It should because if you went to a conference and told your peers that you’re not using social media, they would look at you like you were stuck in the 90s.

As a business owner, you should use the tools that grow your business and some businesses simply don’t need the tool. Does a local plumbing business really need to tweet? What is a logistics company going to do with an Instagram account?

There’s also this angle: What if you aren’t very good at it? What if you don’t even know what Pinterest is? You could pay somebody to help, you could invest time into training yourself, or you could drum up business using the old fashioned networking skills that have served businesses for centuries.

2) Ditch Facebook. Again, blasphemy but consider this: Maybe you can’t get noticed in that big stadium full of business owners but what if you went to a smaller stadium or a local park? You might get noticed there. Smaller sites like medium.com or others might result in better ROI than Facebook or twitter. (And with less time commitment)

3) Go to the Images. Recent studies have shown that social media users are growing tired of text. They wants pictures, videos, infographics, and other forms of media that they don’t have to read. Are people getting lazier? Maybe, but what’s important is that you deliver content in the way your customers want it. Check out Viddy. It allows you to record short, 15 second videos. Think of it as the video version of Twitter.

4) Combine the low tech with the high. If you have a retail location, use a contest or drawing to increase social media engagement. Make up cards to give out to customers advertising the contest. Maybe it’s a free product for the people who post the best picture using your product. Get creative and don’t just use online advertising to gain online traffic. Go offline too.

Finally

Don’t fall into the social media trap. Trying to get noticed in the social media world can take up far too many hours if you let it. If you’re business calls for a big social media presence, hiring somebody to help you may be the best course. If it doesn’t, consider ditching your efforts and concentrate on what drives revenue.

Don’t listen to the noise. You don’t have to have a social media presence. Let your sales figures drive your decisions.

Don Miller is the VP of Marketing and Consumer Advocacy at CreditCardForum, which is a leading card comparison site that is regularly featured in leading business publications and websites. Click here to see Don's favorite cards for small business, like this one.

A Novice's Guide to Email Marketing

If you're in the marketing “biz” and haven't really tried out email marketing yet, the chances are you've at least heard tell of it from co-workers or other peers. It's being talked about for a reason. It's one of the best and most affordable ways to market a product in the 21st century and believe you me – you want in on this ship. As with all new things it can sound a bit daunting at first, but just like first learning how to use email, you will soon realise it's the simplest thing in the world. If you just take a deep breath and look step-by-step at how email marketing works and how you can set yourself up, you'll have a great email campaign up and running in no time.

Probably the first thing you'll want to do as a newcomer to email marketing as a marketing method would be to invest in a subscription to one of the many popular and fantastically useful email marketing services available out in the big, wide web. It's not a necessity for an email marketing campaign, but it may as well be with how handy they are and how much legwork they save. Times is money, right? So it's almost like by subscribing you're actually spending less money? They can offer you some great features like email templates, message builders, help you get subscriber lists together and that sort of thing. It helps you set your campaign up super fast, and in a professional manner.

But even the best email marketing service in the universe can't help you when it comes down to some aspects of building an email marketing campaign. Unless they come up with sentient AI soon that can do whatever you ask, but by that time your job will be pretty much obsolete anyway. One of the things you'll have to think about on your own is where you want your chain of marketing to begin. Your desirable end of the chain will probably be getting someone to perform an action such as “liking” a Facebook page or buying a product, but you need to start that chain off someone and that is by putting emails into the inboxes of people. But what people? Well, that's the question isn't it? What kind of people do you want to market towards? Blanket email marketing hasn't been effective since pretty much the 90s. If you want to build a good email marketing campaign you've got to make it tight – really focus where you're aiming those emails. Then you have to tailor your campaign to appeal to the demographic you're aiming at.

Once you have your demographic sorted out it's just a matter of obtaining a subscriber list from somewhere for the demographic you have chosen. Sometimes email marketing service will be able to help you find these, but you can also just find them being sold online, or you can build one yourself. A subscriber list is just a list of emails who are interested in certain things – usually these are opted into by the email owner – say if they are interested in finding out information about your business specifically or just said somewhere that they were interested in, for instance, “technology deals”.

With this done the major legwork of building the campaign is done. You have an email marketing service to help you actually create your campaign, you have a plan of who you want to be receiving your emails, and you also actually have emails to send it to. The next steps are to build and send. You just have to commit to it. Don't worry if your first email marketing campaign isn't some sort of second coming of Christ. It's not going to be perfect right off the bat. Get some data back from your first wave of emails and tweak and refine it to get more people to pay attention to your emails and to make sure you're making it clear what you're providing whilst also providing what people want. It's a system of refinement, but once it's refined it's a really great tool to add to any marketer's belt. And it's really not that scary after all, is it?

Matt Jenkins is a small business owner with an interest in marketing. His inquisitive nature has led him to try out a every marketing method and 'trick' out there before using his own version; he likes to show others that you don't have to know the jargon to be successful and is tackling it one article at a time!

How a Website Can Benefit New Businesses

So you’ve set up a company and are considering getting a website. A website although somewhat costly to set up and maintain can bring serious benefits to your new business. It is a common misconception that you have to hire an expensive web designer to make your website:

 

Web designer alternatives to save you money

There are two major alternatives depending on your skill level and what you need your website to do. The first is a website template. A website template is an industry premade website that all you need to do is change the text and images to fit your company’s content. However these sometimes take a little bit of coding knowledge to edit in the first place and you need to make sure you’ve got a good one to start with or there could be some serious problems in the background that you wouldn’t notice but could impact on your companies search rankings. There are many websites offering templates but it is far better to spend a bit more and get a quality one rather than some of the free rubbish that will only make your business look poor.

 

The other alternative to a web designer is a website builder. A website builder is similar to a template but is interactive and doesn’t need any prior coding knowledge in order to make your website. Website builders can often come with a hosting plan and a facility to allow you to edit content at will. This is great for new businesses as you are saving money that you would need to spend on getting a web designer to update the website every time.

 

How to use your website to attract new customers

One of the biggest advantages a website can bring to a small company is its ability to attract new customers. Having a good business website properly listed on Google maps along with been linked in with Facebook, Twitter and Google+ can create a real web presence for your business.  Having a strong web presence is really useful for small business as due to Google’s location services you will appear highly in searches ranking around your niche market in geographical local searchers.  However getting visitors to your site is only the first step in getting more customers.

 

Once you are visible on Google and other search engines, people will visit your website. The website visitors then need to be converted into customers to make it all worthwhile. To convert visitors to customers your website needs to be appealing, relevant and professional. No one is going to use a business with a poor website as they will think that the business will operate as poorly. A common misconception is to have as much continent as you possibly can fit on your site. The opposite is true, it is better to have five pages of quality content rather than thirty that the customer has to try and navigate through to find what they want.

 

How a website makes your business more professional

One great thing a website can do for a business is to add an extra level of authority in the customers eye. When you have spent time and money creating an effective website it will show the customers that you are dedicated to your line of business and aim to provide better customer service. Not having a website can make you look like a quick start up company that might not have a proven track record.

 

Having a website a website also allows you to have custom email addresses based on your domain. Having an email @yourcompaniesname.com looks a lot more professional than having a Hotmail or similar public email account. This is important when contacting customers as it reinforces that you are a genuine representative of the company.

 

To conclude: A well-made website can add some genuine benefits to a new company and there are very few industries that wouldn’t benefit in some way or another from having a web presence.

Author Bio:

This was a guest post by Sam Fisher an ex web-designer who now works in online marketing. Seeing both sides of the industry have given him a strong expertise in the advantages and pitfalls a website can bring to new businesses.