It’s time for some tough love. As the newly minted Director of Marketing & Partnerships (March 21st was Day 1!) at Likeable Local, my job is to look after–well–a whole lot of things, actually. One of the many includes getting a handle on segmenting our database and learning who, exactly, make up our customers and prospects. In a recent breakdown of inbound leads, we’re finding that we have everything from jewelers, dentists, accountants, real estate brokers, marketing/consulting folks, interior designers, gym owners, photographers, travel agencies, and the list goes on. Neat, right?
Ha! You’re hilarious.
A full 21.39% of the most recent lead breakdown indicated “other.” This gives marketers agita and it’s even worse for the sales teams since, if we can’t provide some context as to who these people are, the reps have no idea who they’re calling. But small business owners are small business owners. They work their butts off. They’re doing a gazillion things at once. They’re wearing 15 different hats. And every single one of them LOVES to think any of the following:
- “My customers are different. They won’t do. . .”
- “My industry is different. We don’t do. . .”
- “My location is different. You can’t do. . . .here.”
- “I don’t want to ‘cheapen my brand’ by doing. . . .”
- All of the above.
As someone who has been working with SMB’s in some way, shape, or form since 2002 on both the marketing and sales sides, I have only one thing to say:
Just stop it! (If you don’t know this classic Bob Newhart clip, watch it right now. You’re welcome.)
Listen closely. *leans in and whispers*
Your customers are not special. Your industry is not special. Your location is not special. YOU are not special.
Reread that last sentence and commit it to memory.
What you’re doing is what every other business owner is doing regardless of vertical, industry, and location. Do you have inventory? Do you manage a staff? Do you have to make sales? Do you have to watch stock levels, create systems, pay bills, manage vendors? Do you have to MARKET?
Of course you do, so stop thinking otherwise.
It doesn’t matter if your customers are the 1%’ers, are in another country, or you’re the local wine bar down the street. No matter who you are, and what you do, you must, without fail, make it a point to do (in addition to all the above) all that “marketing stuff” too. (This does NOT mean, by the way, to pass off your social media management strategy to your bartender/intern/server/office manager or whomever with a crisp, “You take care of this!” as their final order.) Have more respect for your business–and your staff–then that. Their job is to do what you hired them for–not manage your social media presence as an afterthought. (Your bottom line will only suffer for it in the long run.)
No matter what you do, the basic principles of marketing are there: You have to get opt-in’s via email or text message capture. You have to send out a newsletter and/or at least write a blog. You have to segment your customers, create white papers and/or other offers to entice them to opt-in, manage SEO or local search, ask for testimonials, and. . .you have to BE ON SOCIAL MEDIA.
It truly astounds me when a business owner looks me dead in the eye and insists that (for whatever reason) they, “Don’t have to be on Facebook because my customers aren’t there.” Or, “I am not marketing B2B so I don’t need LinkedIn.” I know quite a few law firms that are so old school they don’t even have a website. I just don’t know what to say to this. What I really want to do is grab the CEO by the lapel, lift them off the ground, and say, “You deserve to go out of business right now because you’re an idiot.”
But, I don’t do that because I don’t want to go to jail.
No amount of data, marketing research, articles, cajoling, begging or pleading will change these people’s minds. They are convinced that they’re right. They’re convinced that 1.04 billion daily active users on Facebook for December 2015 are wrong. They’re convinced that 414 million users on LinkedIn (with a new account being created every 2 seconds) isn’t worth being there. And. . .my absolute favorite, most ridiculous comment that I’ve heard more than once in nearly every vertical?
I have enough business already.
Again. More agita.
It’s fantastic that you have a lot of business. Truly! But can you, as an (otherwise) intelligent business owner, actually look at me square in the eye and say that it will always, forever and ever until death do us part, ALWAYS be that way? That your foot traffic will never cease. That your word of mouth referrals will never waver. That your neighborhood or customer demographics will never change?
You think I’m kidding? You’re shaking your head saying, “This can’t possibly be true with small business owners, especially in a city like NYC where it’s so competitive.” But I’m telling you, in all seriousness, it is. I’ve had these very same conversations more times than I can count with professionals in all industries.
Simply put and all kidding aside: Don’t be that guy. Just don’t. If you’re not gathering email addresses? Start. Better still? Go for cell numbers via sms/text message capture. If you don’t have a website? Pull your head out of the sand and get one pronto. Get a basic profile up on LinkedIn. It’ll take you 10 minutes. Finally. . .I don’t care what kind of business you have. . .GET ON FACEBOOK. Make sure your business profile is separate from your personal profile. (Yes, that means you need to have a personal profile as well.) Start by creating a page here.
If you need help, we’re here for you. Check out our resource section. Book a demo. Just do something, because you’re absolutely no different than any other business owner and certainly neither are your customers.