Did you know that there are over 1 billion smart-phone users? Did you also know that 40% of mobile phone searches are for local businesses? According to Eventuality, these two statistics are important reminders that everyone, yes, even you and your small business, must have a strong web presence if you want to be found by customers.
But it’s hard, right? Finding time to understand social media, getting started, and being inspired to just consider it. No matter how long you have been in business, or how small your business is, today if you are not using social media as your marketing strategy, you are not living up to your business potential. And wouldn’t it be great to earn more money, double your enrollment? How about attracting top teachers to your program? Superstar employees who get what you are doing? Social media offers the small business owner all of these wonderful benefits, so why then, are you still resisting it?
Here are 5 Social Media facts to remove the clouds around your head. Facts help to remove all the glitzy headlines and clutter and offer a perspective, clear and focused to help put Social Media Marketing on the top of your To Do list:
Fact #1: Print is not dead…but if you are using materials that are not readable and legible, then your business will suffer. (Source: CMT Marketing) Technically, not a social media fact, but remember, social media is not just videos and pictures. It is filled with written information. Small businesses make this mistake every day. Multi-colored letters, curly, comic sans fonts, and lines and lines of text without a photo….these are forcing the eyes of your future customers off the page and right to your competitor. For every business: all of your materials should look crisp, clean, and branded (and all that means is that they must have a similar look and feel.) If your materials are hard to read, then no one is reading them. Take the time to update everything: Stationary, business cards, brochures, handbooks, display signs, flyers, and anything printed that represents your program. Then go to your website and make sure its the same. Use clean, readable fonts, with contrasting colors. Add photos that are crisp and clear, and make sure everything written is simple and clear.
Fact #2: 97% of all consumers search for local businesses online. (Source: Eventuality) That means that by the time they get to you– they have already made most of the decision based on your web presence. So, what does that tell you? If you are not getting the people inquiring about your program or services, it is probably because your web information is not giving them what they want—information, expertise, and a social presence. Having a social media strategy does not have to be hard or overwhelming, but it does have to be written out and implemented. The biggest obstacle most programs make is that they leave social media off the line item budget. New materials and products are great, but if you don’t have sales or enrollments to hire more qualified help then all of those new, shiny products and materials will just collect dust. Social Media is a 60% time cost. Time that will be taken away from your business, the classroom, or the front office. Time needs to be in the budget! Think of it this way, would you not budget in a person to stand at the cash register? Then why leave your social media unmanned?
Fact #3: 78% of small businesses attract new customers through social media. (Source: Eventuality) That means that your competitors are full and growing because they understand that Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogging, and Google+ are not going away. They are doubling growth and enrollments every year. Having a budget for the Yellow Pages and not one for social media is the kiss of death. Take a look at what your competitors are doing. What does their website look like? What social platforms are they are on? Do they have a Blog? Now take a look at your internet presence. Was your last Facebook post 8 months ago? Is your website still displaying text and images from 2008? You are on LinkedIn, right? Social media marketing needs a daily push to help your business become the thought leader it is in the community. It’s time to be realistic.
Fact #4: Reviews are unavoidable. If reviews are your reality then you should use them to your advantage. Encouraging satisfied customers to use online review sites by giving them a hard copy survey right away, and include the relevant sites where they can post online reviews as well. Ask your customers if you can use their survey comments to draft up a testimonial for your website. Offer to send it to them first and then use their whole name and photo if possible. Be aware that most review sites also rate your staff, so the attitudes from your employees will impact your reviews. And don’t tell me that you don’t have any reviews because you do, you just haven’t looked in the right places.
Fact #5: 61% of Generation Y checks social media before deciding where to go when “going out”. (Source: Eventuality) Generation Y, or Millennials, are a growing target market. If not today, then next year, and every year after that, so why would you alienate your most important customer? Times change and you must change with them or be left behind. It’s time to upgrade your flip phone and join the 21st century.
Some final thoughts:
- Your programs need to focus on the needs of your customer. It is these customers that read your materials, search for you online, and ultimately are called to action to buy, visit or enroll, so isn’t it time you were easily foundwhere they are? (and it’s not in the YP)
- Use your expertise to become a thought leaderby posting updates and blog articles. People are hungry for information. Why shouldn’t your expertise be a part of the conversation?
- Being penny-wise and pound-foolish about having an online marketing strategy will costyou in customers and free PR. Hire a professional to help you set things up, get a social media policy in place, set up the sites, and get you rolling! The hardest part is getting it off the ground. It is never too late to be a part of the conversation.
- Don’t make the mistake of being “too busy” to do social media. It is not optional any more. On your staff is probably one or two people who would love to help you grow your marketing online. Add their time to your budget to get the most bang for your buck.
- Finally, embrace social media!This is what lets your customers and community know that you are current, relevant, and using social media will allow them to follow you and share all the information that are positing. Become a thought leader in the industry, there are few out there now, so take the lead!
Photo Source: Depositphotos.com
For a free “social media” check-up of your web presence email me: firstname.lastname@example.org Getting a fresh perspective and then getting starting it all it takes. I work with every budget, and specialize in small businesses and independent schools like yours.