A number of my friends own their own businesses, and it is always interesting to me that, when we start talking about my job, they usually say the same thing: "Oh, email and social media marketing -- that is just for big companies. I don't have time for that stuff." Or, "No one can explain to me how it will help grow my business, so why would I spend my time tweeting?"
I always get a kick out of these types of responses. Sure, it takes time to do any kind of social or email marketing, but does that mean that it isn't worth it for smaller businesses? The short answer? No.
Let me explain how spending just 10 minutes a day on social marketing can enable a small business owner to generate true ROI. This example is actually a very personal one, as it has to do with my wife. See, my wife owns her own business through which she trains and consults companies on legal and human resource matters. My wife was one of those small business owners who told me she didn't have time to spend on Twitter -- let alone Facebook or any other social network -- to promote her business. Being that I believe in email and social marketing so much, I have been working with my wife to get her services more visible by using these services.
Over the past several months, she has made it a goal to spend at least 30 minutes a week on Twitter. As a result, and seemingly out of the blue, a company that follows her tweets reached out to her with a direct message on Twitter and requested a conference call to determine if their respective businesses complemented each other. After exchanging more detailed information on the services that each provides, they discussed ways in which they could market each other's services to their existing clients to offer a more "full-service" menu. After their second conference, which included marketing departments, both businesses realized that a mutual referral agreement would be a win-win for both companies. Both companies can make additional revenue by simply understanding the other's business and suggesting it to their clients. As a result of Twitter, the companies are now entering into a reciprocal referral contract.
So what can you, the small and medium business owner, learn from this example? Consider the following:
- Marketing ROI doesn't always mean a direct sale. By engaging with others through various marketing platforms, your name and brand will be more recognizable, which will turn into more business and more sales.
- By spending just a small amount of time each week, you can grow your network and grow your business.
- Just because something is the new "it" thing for larger companies doesn't mean it can't work well for smaller companies as well.
Is social media just the latest craze in the marketing world? Or will your business actually suffer if you don't embrace it? To determine current trends, I always think it's wise to peek in the rearview mirror.
Let's talk baby boomers. This generation is famous for coining the phrase, "It's not what you know, it's who you know." When there are six equally qualified people for one job opening, your network is invaluable. As businesses became members of the global marketplace, this concept held true -- not just for people on an individual level, but for business-to-business networking.
Historically, how did one grow their network of people and increase their marketing reach? We have gone from a water cooler, country club, and neighborhood society to a global marketplace. No longer is it feasible to rely solely on historical marketing concepts. I have seen some reports that say that word of mouth is the primary factor behind 20 to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions. This word-of-mouth marketing momentum directly correlates to the rise of social networking sites and how people make decisions on what to buy and what businesses to work with.
Building partnerships with other similar businesses through social networking sites can lead to additional revenue for your business. It is these types of possibilities that many businesses are seeing right now, and why I truly believe that social marketing is more than a passing craze. It's important for all marketers to start developing a strategy, even if it means spending less than one hour a week in the beginning.
So if you are one of those people who doesn't believe that they have time to devote to social marketing, I suggest taking an inventory of your marketing efforts and ensuring that, at a minimum, a portion of your efforts are devoted to expanding your network and utilizing the social media avenues that are available to you.
Good luck and good sending.
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