Before I get into some of the mistakes small businesses make, let me explain why I thought it an important topic. I spoke with a couple of clients this week who asked me about some SEO information that some some sales person from a large media company pointed out. Based on their critique, they were concerned about their SEO. What was present just re-enforced how much knowledge or a small lack of it can be used as a weapon. Now you should know that most of these big media company sales people have themselves very little knowledge, they probably get a crash course on SEO or SEM and are sent out to sign up unsuspecting business owners. These sales people were using industry lingo and what is called asymmetric information, basically information they have and they know you don’t, to bring up doubt in the minds of these owners. Most of what they mentioned was 4-5 years out of date or preferential points. Just so everyone is on the same page, meta keywords are and have been irrelevant for quite some time. Anyone who approaches you talking about your meta keywords on your site, kindly stop them and show them the door, they know nothing about search engine optimization. Any company who would train their employees so poorly is not going to be able to help you.
So what are some things that can actually help small business owners considering digital marketing avoid. I will detail out a few that I can detail for you.
Determine how digital marketing can help your business – this may seem simple but as an overview, you should discuss and consider what services you might take advantage of. From my perspective every business today should at the very least have a presence on the web and have that website optimized. But you may have a site and have a more specific need.You may have a specific promotion or product that you need to promote. Or you may be in a very visual industry where social media can be most effective in telling your story. In any case, be aware of what is out there and don’t be sold on the spot by hype.
Know where you stand – fairly simple right, you should have an understanding of what you current presence looks like. Do you have any social media sites set up. How do you rank from an SEO perspective against you competitors? We offer a simple tool that gives you a seo report card against the competition. Take stock of what you have before buying something new.
Digital marketing doesn’t solve fundamental business problems – if you have the wrong people or the wrong business model digital marketing will not solve that. Simply throwing month at problems with your business won’t solve them. It may actually compound them. When you spend money on social media or search engine ads and your people who pick up the phone aren’t trained to maximize that call, you throw money away. The best marriage of digital and traditional combines flashy digital with old world common sense business practices.
Know what you’re buying – it has become more popular to sell “consulting” or “management”as a solution. Don’t buy advise when you need service. You may chalk this up to just not asking enough questions or not getting a proposal. Many companies will guise what they provide so that you think your getting a service when all they are doing it telling you how to do it. If you are committed to doing the work, but the advise. If not buy the service.
Educate yourself – it never hurts to have a decent understanding of the current landscape. If you have more time than resources, this may be your first option. Go out and find a digital marketing ebook on a topic you may be looking to do, and find out what you can do to get started. A good digital marketing company can build on your efforts so they very rarely go to waste.
Digital marketing is still in the early stages of development. It is ever changing and what was the norm 2 years ago may not apply. But what is important to understand is that it is the way of the future small business to market themselves. Be well prepared and positioned to capitalize on your digital presence.