Editor's note: This is Part II of a three-part series on marketing for small businesses.
In Part I of this series on small business marketing, we laid out the evidence that easy marketing tools on digital and social media do not mean digital and social media marketing is easy.
It’s not. Don’t believe a single person who tells you otherwise. Even when that 20-something down the street tells you social media is way easy, that person is way wrong.
Look at any survey of small business owners – national all the way down to our own company’s recent Small Business Sentiment Survey – and you’ll find more and more companies begrudging the difficulty of this new era in marketing.
Why is that? Three reasons.
A new language of small business marketing
Let’s be honest for a moment and at least admit most small business owners do not understand the language of digital and social media marketing. You may think you understand SEO, or Ad Words, or Boosted Posts or a dynamic website, but the reality is you don’t.
And small business owners shouldn’t feel bad about that, because there are too many so-called digital marketing companies that don’t understand, either. Well, it’s either that or they outright lie to the customers, which is why they churn so many on and back off the client roll.
SEO – appearing organically at the top of search engines (Google) – is an easy acronym but it’s one most small businesses do not really understand.
Case-in-point: Our company had a small business that told us they wanted to be at the top of Google search in their business category. That business owner allocated $2,000 a month to be at the top, and it needed to happen within a week.
If you don’t see the problem, then it’s more evidence for a lack of understanding. If your business starts an SEO campaign, you can certainly appear within the Top 4 listings on the first page of Google over time. If you want to be absolutely first, in virtually any category, it’s going to take a higher investment and more time.
SEO is not about writing a check, appearing in search and raking in profits. Even after you start a campaign, it takes time. And once you appear, and people start clicking your link, you still are guaranteed nothing.
The idea that you just easily buy your way to the top of search is a misnomer, and it has forced a lot of businesses to flush thousands of dollars away on nothing. SEO is an investment. It takes time to just show up at the top of the page.
You can’t afford it
Another approach to getting on page one quickly is Google AdWords. According to an analysis, most effective small businesses spend between $9,000-10,000 per MONTH on pay-per-click advertising. Is that in your marketing budget?
It’s not to say small businesses have to spend that much, but that’s an average. Why the enormous price tag? Well, it starts with competition. The more competitors you have, and the more they realize they, too, need to be at the top of a search engine, companies like Google start the bidding war.
Let’s say you’re a plumber and you want to appear at the top of Google. And let’s say you choose your keywords (the words consumers type into Google) as “Plumber near me.” To get one person to just click on your website will cost $25. If 10 people click your ad, it costs you $250.
If you have an enormous marketing budget, making the investment is a sure-fire way to success. If you get 100 people to click on your ad, and you get 10 plumbing jobs for the $2,500 you spent, you’ll make a lot more than $2,500 in profit from those 10 jobs.
The problem for most businesses is they don’t have that sort of marketing cash. And that leads to the next problem: You can’t spend that $25 per click for one month and walk away. Once the PPC starts, it needs to be managed and updated regularly to get the best return on investment. Most small business owners don’t have the time or the understanding to do that.
The final piece
A lot of good companies spend money showing up in digital searches and they cancel before they even get started. The response (and we hear this from our clients all the time) is that they have spent money on PPC for two months and they’ve only gotten a few calls.
Any idea why? It’s because a click does not guarantee anything. If a potential customer comes to your site and you have a poor-performing site, you don’t have recent reviews, you don’t have fresh content, you don’t have original photos, you don’t blog about anything, you don’t show competitive pricing – all of those things send your would-be customers packing.
You see, spending money on search advertising does not make your phone ring. Paying for any sort of digital advertising simply gets people to find you. Once they find you, have you invested enough to actually close them as customers?
The answer is usually no, because most businesses can’t afford it. If they’re going to spend a ton on having a perfect website (our suggestion), then the budget for SEO or social advertising is diminished. And if they dump all their money into digital marketing, but they don’t have a good website, they may as well have taken a nice vacation with the funds.
Small business marketing is not easy, it’s not cheap and, most importantly, it is not easily understood.
The next time you’re thinking about a digital campaign for your business, you’re much better off calling a marketing company and having a nice, long discussion. That’s something we do with our clients all the time, and we’ve learned our lesson about making sure clients understand the level of commitment digital marketing really takes.
Any company that tells you otherwise just wants your money; they care little about your results.