I have had the pleasure of meeting with many small business owners to discuss their current and future marketing initiatives over the past few years. To my surprise, many Canadian small business owners are still focused on traditional means of marketing. All of them seem to recognize that they need to go digital and are interested in adopting digital solutions, but seem to be a bit nervous about the transition of getting started.
About a year ago, I set up a meeting at a local pet store and after sharing our concept and it’s benefits, the owner was ready to proceed. When setting up her profile, she didn’t have anything to fill out for social media options. She looked at me and asked “Can you help me with that?” Although this is not a service I offer, I felt it wouldn’t be a problem and spent 20 minutes getting her set up on Facebook and sharing some posting tips. Within weeks she had more followers on Facebook then we did on our business page (with no paid ads) and continues to engage her customers daily with information on events, offers, and promotions. I will add that her cute animal photos have gained a lot of attention!
I still check this page often as I enjoy seeing the positive impact “getting started” that day has made on her business and how she connects with her customers. I have broken down the process of “going digital” for the small business owner into 3 simple steps:
Step 1: Recognize and understand the benefits
Digital means measurable – Digital campaigns often offer real-time results that allow you to evaluate a return on your money.
Engagement Opportunities – An impression is no longer about seeing the brand, but reading, sharing, playing, and experiencing the brand.
Creativity – Digital allows you to be creative and experiment with new designs and messages.
Cost Management – When business owners think digital, they think expensive. The truth is that digital often allows you to set a budget and manage your max spend for different campaign types.
Step 2: Adopt the basics of “getting connected”
Website – Invest in a website that is responsive to mobile.
Social Media – Choose 2 social networks to get started. I recommend Facebook and Twitter, but other options include Pinterest, Google Plus, and LinkedIn.
Grow an email mailing list – Email is a great way to connect with your customers, and using a tool such as MailChimp.com makes it simple to re-engage your customers with offers and updates. At Scratchd Inc, we offer a unique way to collect customer emails digitally.
Step 3: Explore New Ideas
• Other Social Networks
• SMS Campaign Platforms
• Google Adwords
• Paid Advertising through Social Networks
• Mobile Loyalty Programs
• Digital Signage
• And much more! Have fun with it!
Final Note – Don’t be afraid to seek help!
Depending on your budget, there are independent consultants and companies that help with all of what I outlined in this post. Feel free to comment if you are a small business owner looking for help, or a marketing specialist offering digital services.