Question: I know we need digital marketing, but I don’t even know where to begin. Where do I start?
Answer: Consider the phone book.
Earlier this week I asked the students in my Social Media Marketing Workshop how many of them had used a phone book to look up a service within the last year. Only 1 said yes. At one time, if we needed a plumber or a pedicure or a pizza place, we looked in the yellow pages. No more. Now we pull out our tablets or mobile phones to search. We text friends for recommendations. We research local options on Facebook, YP.com, or LinkedIn.
In other words, your new customers are not looking for you in the phone book. They’re looking online. Unless potential customers can find you on their tablets or smartphones, you might as well be invisible. Great for your competition. Not so great for you. So start by making sure you can be found by those potential clients. Start with an up-to-date website.
No matter how simple, your website must be visible to all searchers, so you want a search engine optimized (SEO), responsive website. “Responsive” means your website will look good on screens of all sizes – from desktops to smartphones. An up-to-date, functional website is crucial. Google penalizes websites that don’t work on smartphones by pushing them further down the search result list. Besides, you really want to catch those smartphone users. According to a Forbes.com blog post, “95 percent of smartphone users have used their phone to look up local information. After doing so, 61 percent called. And 59 percent visited.” You may not have a huge marketing budget, but almost all businesses need at least an appealing, informative, responsive website. Call around for quotes. You may be surprised at just how affordable they can be.
Once you’re set with a website, then turn your attention to social media options like Facebook or LinkedIn. According to Social Media Examiner’s Social Media Marketer Industry Report, “Nearly all marketers (93%+) who've been employing social media marketing for one year or longer report it generates exposure for their businesses.”
While I wouldn’t scrap all of your print advertising, I would most definitely pair it with a website and a social media marketing plan. Give your customers a little encouragement to keep up with your business online, and you will see the benefits.