Some Small Business Strategies
With the announcment of Google's latest foray into social networking, called Google+, the world of online marketing just got even more complicated … again.
In a few short years the internet has gone from a few simple text based websites visible to only a privileged few on primitive text based web browsers to a mind blowingly vast combination of different methods for you to get your stuff noticed. As I write this I'm watching Gordon Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares USA – well I watch very little T.V. but if I accidentally come across Mr. Ramsey I do like to watch, he is quite a smart businessman. And whilst watching I saw probably the most incredible example of how modern technology is changing everything.
Gordon has invited a very famous and influential food critic/blogger (in the USA at least) whom previously slated this particular restaurant online to her thousands of followers. So after totally revamping the restaurant and its food he convinces this blog lady to give it one more go. In hindsight maybe not a good move. Not surprisingly (cos it is great TV) the kitchen falls to pieces under the pressure and the camera shows this critic with her iPhone actually taking photos of the mayhem and typing her story onto her blog as it happened. Gordon was actually following her tweets as they went out and swearing profusely as you would expect. The pressure becomes unbearable. So if you make a mistake almost in real time you can be punished in real time.
Luckily they get it back together and they got the blogger back on side. The positive feedback got posted to twitter and they survived – just.
So the point I'd now like to make is this. Are people using social media to discuss their opinions of your business? You bet they are. Here is a tip. Set up a Google alert for your company name and your website URL and in a few days you'll likely get something. It will very likely be from a forum and someone giving a good or bad opinion on you.
When I started to write this post I wanted to list out what I consider to be the most important topics for business owners to be aware of right now in marketing. Kitchen Nightmares has confirmed what I'm about to write.
1) Social Media. Your customers are talking about you whether you like it or not. Business owners must take the steps of setting up their social media presence and interact with their audience – don't be in denial – just do it. NB I mean interact with and NOT sell to.
2) For local business owners that rely on their local market, online marketing is rapidly replacing Yellow Pages and newspapers. Google Places is becoming more and more important for advertising your business.
3) International sales are becoming an important option that many businesses need to consider. As the economy rebalances, exporting to Europe and elsewhere is becoming essential for the survival of our economy. Start to look at how the internet can find new markets for you and your products overseas.
4) People are moving from using desktops to mobile devices and smart phones. You need to make sure your offer exists there.
5) People are finding your products and services locally on their mobile devices, they are scanning with QR codes and they are using Google Mobile search so your site needs to be mobile capable and mobile search visible.
6) iPhone App downloads are overtaking music in the download arena. Businesses are developing Apps to be downloaded onto smart phones that connect with their customers in a way that the internet arguably doesn't and also more importantly these Apps are resulting in more and more businesses being able to dominate their niches by deem of almost having a captive audience.
The channels that you need to set up now are numerous and having a sound technical and marketing strategy is going to be essential for each business irrespective of the size of the business. Small busineses need to behave like big businesses so get out there and do it !
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