I feel your frustrations. You're spending thousands of dollars to get to the top of Google. Then they go and change their algorithm, or some other businesses has found a trick to get ahead of you.
Someone tells you, get onto Facebook. There are a billion people there. So you do that and you spend months posting updates, only to discover that Facebook doesn't actually share your posts with anyone (what!? I have to pay for people to see me?). And all that time and effort has resulted in everyone liking you, but not a lot of business coming your way.
Then someone says. Twitter is the go, or LinkedIn is the go, or, Pinster is the new way to make money these days. You don't understand it, and you fumble around with each new gadget, get confused and lose yourself in the chaos, and …. here you are reading this article. Am I right?
Well, those are my thoughts. Well, I mean, I understand and use all these tools, but the thing that worries me is, why do we continually change our focus. We are led in one direction, then have to change direction, and to be frank, all of this is really a lot of effort. And for how much return?
How much effort and energy are we really putting into this that could otherwise be spent building your business up, in a productive way? Shouldn't every unit of effort we put into our business, result in a unit of result / return?
It started me thinking. Is there a different way? Amongst the hype, confusion, and ever changing technological landscape, it's easy to forget the fundamentals. What would our business marketing look like if we just went back to basics?
I started to walk through the options in my mind and came up with the following suggested alternative.
Step 1. Create a memorable brand name
Don’t create a generic business or product name using a common term so you can rank in Google for that keyword. Let's use one that is different, and recallable. So that if you say it once, people will remember it.
Step 2. Create a really engaging website that tells stories
People connect with people. And people understand things that matter to them. Whatever it is you do, communicate as if you were speaking one to one with them, and do so in a way that makes them stay on your website, and inspires them to come back.
One of the really effective ways of doing this, is to write regular updates using a blog. No, not a blog on the WordPress or Blogger websites that is a separate entity to your website. A blog that sits on your own website. Make your website the centre of your communication strategy. You don't need to post updates on external social media portals to tell your story.
Step 3. Tell all your friends and family
You don't need Facebook to connect to all your contacts. Do you still own an old fashioned address book? Open it up and create a mailing list. Then send an email to your mail list asking them to take a look at your website. And ask them to pass on your details to anyone who might be interested in what you do.
Step 4. Create a mailing list system
Create a mailing list system that integrates with your website. By this I mean, next to each blog add a 'get updates by email' subscription box. And allow people to volunteer for updates for those that get you and want to support you. And allow people to unsubscribe, so you don't put anyone offside.
Step 5. Network to expand your sphere of contact
You don't need LinkedIn or Twitter to network. In fact they can be so noisy these days, that it's hard to make "real" connections. For professionals, there's always networking drinks or events where you can pick up business cards. Every time I go to a networking event I come back with at least 10 business cards.
If you're a local corner store, you can go old school. Create a leaflet with your web address and a compelling message, and hand it out in person to all the other stores, and put it on the windscreens of the cars that park in your street.
If you're a retailer with a broader scope. Find out where online your target market is getting together and chatting about stuff that matters to them. Then join the conversation and softly, advise of your solution when it's appropriate, and let customers become your advocates. There are many more options, when you think outside the box.
So how is all this going to help me?
- Because your communicating directly with your clients and your network, you don't need search engine traffic to get people to your website or repeat purchases
- Because you are using your own website to post updates, you are streamlining your energies and efforts into one site instead of multiple social media portals.
- Because you have your own contact database and mailing list manager, you're not reliant on Facebook or LinkedIn to communicate updates
- Because you are updating and emailing on a regular basis, you are staying front of mind, and word of mouth will organically help expand your reach
- Because you have a unique brand name, people will remember you better, and won't be reliant on search engines to find you (and run the risk of being seen alongside your competitors)
The end result is you no longer worry about what all those social media and online marketing experts are telling us we're missing out on (overcome the 'Fear Of Missing Out').
True. It's never black or white, there are many shades of grey. Certain marketing channels need to be used when you really need to make an impact quickly. And personally, for my business, I use just about all the major online channels.
But what I'm trying to say is, if you break it down, there are options to succeed online outside of Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinster, etc. This is good to know, as these companies start to capitalise on their dominance and make things more challenging for us.
But importantly, let's not lose sight of the fundamentals and stay true to what makes the most sense for our business, before deciding on a course of action that might really not be worth all the fuss.
Tim Vandergriend is an Online Business Strategist at Redalto Communications, which providing a number of different services including web design, web app development, online marketing. For more information, click here to contact Tim.