When it comes to online marketing, there are a lot of popular misconceptions as to what one should or shouldn’t do, and whether it’s even necessary. To clear up some of the confusion, here is the skinny on some of the most common myths about marketing your small business online.
1. I Don’t Sell Online, So I Don’t Need Online Marketing
Let’s face it, unless you live in a third world country, just about everybody is searching for your business online. Whether you’re a dry cleaner, hair salon, restaurant, or even a local coin- operated Laundromat, chances are your customers are searching the web to find you. Thus, if you don’t have a web presence, you’re losing business.
2. My Product or Service is So Great it Doesn’t Need to be Marketed
Having a great product or service is essential to your long term success, but you could go broke waiting for word-of-mouth promotion to bring in new customers. Even with a basic internet presence, you’re facing some pretty stiff competition when it comes to getting your customers’ attention, let alone their money. A carefully crafted marketing plan that will appeal to your target customers is an essential step on your pathway to success.
3. I’m Cheaper Than the Competition, So I Don’t Need Marketing
Offering a great price doesn’t guarantee you customers, especially if no one knows about it. To make money while offering lower prices, you need to sell a lot of product; to do that, you need advertising, which costs money, which in turn increases expenses and forces you to raise prices. Be careful about relying on out-pricing the competition to bring in customers. Price shoppers are usually the least loyal, most difficult customers to keep, as they will drop you like a hot potato when a lower priced product or service comes along. Take some time to identify your demographic, work on your branding, and attract long term, loyal customers who will keep coming back because you’re convenient, local, and you offer a great product or service.
4. A Really Great Website is All I Need
Having a nicely crafted, attractive, thoughtful website designed to convert visits into sales is a very important part of your online marketing plan, but it can’t do it’s job if you don’t have a strategy to bring customers to your site in the first place. From social media to advertising and a variety of customer engagement methods, you need to generate a buzz that will get customers to visit your website, or else all of your hard work and investment will be for naught.
5. The Fancier My Website, the Better
Before you go investing a lot of money in a complex website with lots of animation, bells, and whistles, keep in mind that unless you’re selling fancy websites, simpler is generally better. Your website should be easy to read and navigate, pleasing to look at, and appealing to your customers. The more complicated the design, the longer it may take to load, causing customers to click away rather than wait. Also, the more complicated the design, the more difficult (and expensive) it will be to make changes later, so don’t be tempted to substitute high-tech gadgetry for good writing and pleasing design.
6. The More Traffic I Can Generate, the Better
Don’t fall for the old myth that all publicity is good publicity. While there’s nothing wrong with getting a high volume of traffic to your website, chances are it won’t result in a high volume of sales if it’s not your demographic. Don’t waste your time and money generating blind traffic. You should be channeling your marketing efforts toward your target audience to bring in the kind of traffic that will generate sales.
7. Social Media Caters Only to Teenagers
Actually, some social media sites like Facebook have been largely abandoned by teenagers because they discovered that their parents are using them. Different social media sites have different demographics, so it’s wise to do your research before choosing where to set up your business accounts. Whatever your product or service, however, chances are your preferred customers are out there using one social media site or another, and you would be wise to leverage such a lucrative marketing opportunity.
8. I Need a Really Big Budget to Get Results from Online Marketing
Online marketing is not a one-size-fits-all proposition, and you do not have to spend a small fortune to get results. You can start small, and add more money to the most profitable campaigns as you go along. A good online marketing provider will help you establish goals that fit your budget, and get the best return on investment for your marketing dollars.
9. Advertising is the Same as Marketing
Advertising is actually just a small part of the whole marketing picture. Marketing involves planning and research, as well as leveraging everything from various forms of advertising to social media and in-store promotions.
10. My Ad Has to Run Many Times to Get Results
Advertising aimed at developing brand awareness is quite expensive, requiring a business to run advertisements over and over again for best results. As a local business, however, you may simply desire to run an advertisement designed to generate an immediate and measurable response. Be sure your advertising sales representative understands your objectives and your budget.
While navigating the world of online marketing can seem overwhelming at times, there are many knowledgeable professionals available to guide you. The key is to find a trustworthy, reputable company, and work together to establish a clear understanding of your goals and budget.