If you've watched much television over the last couple of years, then, like many people you may have become hooked by the hard drinking, womanizing antics of the ad men in Mad Men. The world of big brand advertising exudes a certain enticing glamour.
And, in the 60s, despite all the cigarettes, cocktails and illicit affairs, old school marketing teams managed to come up with some of the most infamous ad campaigns ever - their slogans and jingles have dominated our lives. Despite the martinis flowing as much as the money, brands were born.
Away from the glamour, local businesses would be forced to rely on their shop windows, and word of mouth to sell their services. It wasn't quite in the same league. Even as people got more media savvy into the 80s, small and medium sized businesses were stuck with local radio jingles or "Crazy Eddie" type stunts where the main draw would be "insanely low prices." All was good fun, but rather amateurish compared with the campaigns of the big players who put millions into marketing.
But with the rise of the Internet and the boom in digital marketing and social media, the game has changed, and changed for good. You don't need a team of Lucky Strike-fuelled Mad Men to have an effective, authentic and professional campaign.
You can use a website as an interactive brochure and look as slick as the big brands, even if you are marketing to more local customers. And the first place you should start is with your website. It's the shop window of the 21st century. So let's take a look at what's on offer.
How are people using digital marketing?
Any savvy business owner knows an online presence that really shines can give a massive boost to their sales and profits - especially now that we seek out services on smart phones and tablets. Recent findings by Vocus and Inc. Magazine show that 70% of small and medium businesses had a website and that most of them keep their goals simple when it comes to digital marketing. Their main aim being to drive sales and to increase awareness of their business or brand. So if you are not online, you are really missing out. But digital marketing also offers you engagement with your customers that no other platform did before.
As the chart shows, people are using their sites for various reasons. But if you don't have an Internet Presence at all. There are fundamental reasons you should have one. Here are a few:
- It is cheaper - You don't need to spend money printing and updating expensive brochures and catalogues. With a site, your message can reach everyone who might be online and that's millions, even billions of people. What's more, you can can update it instantly.
- You reach more people - You potentially have thousands of people daily who might drop by - they can see what you are offering, around the clock. That's more than any shop window!
- Dialogue - a site allows you to communicate with customers wherever they are. They can give you feedback and you can keep them updated with offers, promotions, events and new products.
You really won't be taken seriously as a company these days unless you have a website. That said, it's not enough that you just have a website. You must have a professional-looking site that gives clients the information they need.
Since many consumers now search for information online prior to making a purchase at a brick-and-mortar store, your site may be the first chance you have at making a good impression on a potential buyer. If your site looks like it was designed by color blind monkeys, you are putting off your customers from the get go.
As well as looking good, your site needs certain but vital information and features. According to a recent study from vSplash, 60% of SMEs with a site, lacked an address on their homepage and nearly half didn't even have a phone number. These are serious oversights. In addition, of the 3.9 million small business sites surveyed, 47% didn't make use of Google Places and over 35% had no Bing Local presence! These are vital applications for small businesses reliant on local custom. So make sure your site ticks all of these boxes.
Success at first site!
A website, is still the number one way that companies (86.6%) are using the Internet to connect with customers old and new. And websites are seen as such an effective tool that nearly a quarter of small businesses (under 100 employees) in the USA plan to invest more into their online presence. This includes putting more time and money into features such as SEO, so that their sites show up more often on searches and more traffic is driven to the site.
Keep things fresh and relevant
You will notice that big brands and names like to shake things up every now and then to keep themselves in the public consciousness. They might commission a new slogan or logo, or come up with an award winning ad campaign. It isn't a bad idea to follow their lead. There are far too many websites out there simply gathering digital dust. A 2012 study from Ad-ology Research, found that just under half of SMEs surveyed had not updated their sites in a month or more.
If you are not getting the vital information on your site, that tells your customers who you are, where you are, what you can do for them and how they can get in touch - then it doesn't matter if your site looks a million dollars, it won't make you a dime! Ensure the basics are in place before getting more advanced.
Beyond the website
While a great site can make a massive difference to a small business, you still have to get people to visit it, and so get word out about your company. Social media is a great way to do this as it can target your customers in a particular place. This is why many companies are spending more on social advertising, promoted postings and sponsored tweets. A good SEO campaign should also bring traffic to your site. You can see how effective such strategies can be here:
You need to integrate your company with the main social media players, or find someone who can. Really, it's a no brainer. Having a social media presence costs you nothing but the time it takes to do. And a January survey in Social Media examiner reported that 89% of SME marketers found social media gave them greatly massive marketing exposure and saw their web traffic increase greatly.
It may be cool these days to say "I don't do Facebook and I never tweet" but if you want to grow your business, being social media unsavvy is not cool at all.
It's time to get with the program!
With a little time and effort you can build an amazing web presence. And it doesn't mean paying top dollar or bringing in a some big boy branding agency. The cost of digital marketing tools is dropping every day. So you just need a little time and dedication.
And if you don't have the time, digital marketing companies, like Pronto, can act as your Don Draper and give your site a great look and a real identity. We ensure you have an up-to-date and great looking website, with all the bells and whistles, such as blogs, SEO, email and engaging content - and we don't get through nearly as many martinis as the Mad Men of Sterling Cooper...though we have been known to try.