The amount of small business marketing information out there is overwhelming. Some of it is amazing—see HubSpot, or gurus like Lisa Barone and John Jantsch—and a lot of it is…less than stellar.
How do you sift through a mine of too much information to find the valuable ores within? I can’t claim to deliver all the answers, but as I see it, there are three things you absolutely should not do under any circumstances. By avoiding the easy pitfalls, you can start to make your mark on the world of online marketing.
You can aim for the stars, of course. But you can also shoot yourself in the foot, repeatedly, so this advice won’t be overly ambitious. Consider it a crash course in setting up a marketing effort in today’s fast-paced, Internet-based world. Here’s our don’ts:
- Spam and advertise. If you’re taking the traditional e-mail approach to marketing, you’re inundating your customers or potential customers with e-mail. That’s a lot of messaging, even for those who truly love what your business.So make it valuable. A blatant sales pitch no longer has the power it used to, and, over time, it becomes either infuriating or easily ignored. You need to reach your customers through valuable content, conversation, engagement and drawing awareness to the deals and products you know they’ll want. The overt sales pitch is ineffective and fraught with the danger of turning off your customer base.If you have a blog or an ebook, you can include links to them in e-mails and give customers something they may actually want to read. I’m sure you have other valuable expertise to deliver through your marketing efforts, so explore what you have available.
- Pay no attention to metrics. Over time, the successes and failures of your marketing approach(es) should bear statistical fruit. You should be able to point to particularly successful campaigns and mine them for future tries, while the worst campaigns can be relegated to the dustbin of history.If you don’t use metrics and analytics, if you don’t keep careful track of your data, if you approach the art of marketing like it’s some quasi-mystical practice that requires you to read the winds, you’ll find your company misses the mark more often than not.
- Refuse to embrace the Internet. If your marketing consists of Yellow Page ads, billboard signs and direct calling, you might as well build a time machine and head back to the 1970′s. Your approach is so outdated it should be wearing bell bottoms.I’ll go one further. If you’re more than a year behind current trends—you have no blog, you’re not interested in Facebook and Twitter—you might be in trouble. The bulk of almost anyone’s customer base, outside of senior services, is at least a casual user online.
Avoid those, use common sense and keep up on emerging trends and you’re off to a fine start. But hey, enough from us. How do you approach your marketing efforts?