By Frank Reed –
Internet marketing is one of those strange things. It is so easy to talk about at high levels and feel that you have enough information to make important decisions with some level of comfort. Everyone throws around terms like SEO (search engine optimization), paid search (PPC), social media (in all its various forms) and then has the classic two-part reaction.
1. I can do this
2. It won’t cost much, if anything at all.
This is where the trouble usually starts. Many SMB’s are really smart people and they actually do understand Internet marketing better than some so called experts. Their understanding of the tools is clear and they may even know some of the secrets of the trade. But they all run into the same roadblock: time. No matter how much you think you know you cannot opt for a 35-hour day. The demands of being a small to medium business owner often don’t allow for one of the most important aspects of Internet marketing (or any marketing for that matter) which is research.
I perform MarketView Reports for SMB’s that looks at their website, their competitive environment and any other element of the online world that should impact their future Internet marketing decisions. I do this because it is the biggest gap I see in the SMB’s process as it relates to online marketing of all stripes. There is considerable demand for this service now because time is money and SMB’s just don’t have the time. They don’t have the time to “deep dive’ on their overall Internet marketing strategy and they certainly don’t have time to analyze their competition in any depth.
SMB’s instead they turn to tools. They put up a Facebook page for their business or they go on Twitter or they start a blog but they do it because in their mind there is a “if I do it they will come” hope. What if they made a decision based on research that all they truly needed was a Facebook page for now? The time and effort saved could end up being what is needed to close more deals using that Facebook presence. There are an infinite number of combinations of what can be done to promote and sell online and each SMB owner / marketer has to discover where they will be the most effective. There really isn’t the luxury of making a wrong guess.
So what’s the bottom line on this? I truly believe that a small up front investment in time and money to truly understand what is happening in the marketplace in great detail will result in long term savings in time, effort and money. It could also lead to some self-discovery that can be invaluable as the marketplace continues to evolve. if this sounds like a veiled pitch for what I do then so be it. It’s important for the SMB to know the “lay of the land” before they commit to a course of action. Otherwise, money and time are sacrificed with little or no return. That hurts any business.
Informed decisions minimize the wasting of valuable resources. No truer words have been spoken especially as it relates to Internet marketing. If there was ever an industry where the cliché of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” applies it is in the online space. I hope more SMB’s take the time to get the facts because the upside could be the difference between survival and success.