Why would you need to worry about social media if you are a “brick and mortar” type business? You own a dry cleaning service and the local residents are your customers. You probably advertise in the local newspaper or place flyers in mail boxes but are you marketing yourself online? Are you aware that most of your customers actually do their shopping online, searching for deals, products or services? Why would you ignore the huge potential of increased business by not targeting one of the biggest markets there are?
When the term online marketing or social media marketing is presented to many business owners their eyes glaze over and their brain tend to shut down. They think that online marketing is too complicated and probably too time consuming and expensive. They also believe it’s only for big businesses with huge budgets. They are wrong. Online marketing is a major part of a community building strategy for every business.
What are your objectives for marketing your business? Do you want to increase sales? Do you wish to gain new clients? Do you want to create an awareness that your business even exists? It’s important to know what your objectives are. As an example my objective is to let the people in my region know of Lorac Virtual Solutions and to gain new clients. That is why I am choosing to use social media tools to “broadcast” my objectives and reach my target audience.
That leads us into the term “target audience”. Sometimes terms used by others can be confusing and they shouldn’t be. Target audience is who you believe to be a candidate as a new client or someone you wish to reach. The dry cleaning business owner is probably targeting potential new customers or maybe suppliers who can help him become more “green” with his products. Be very clear as to who you are targeting. What do you believe are their needs and how could you help them? It’s important to know that by providing a service or a product we are attempting to meet the needs of our customers or clients.
By knowing who we wish to target and know what they potentially need we can now create an online strategy using available social media tools. When researching who your target audience is you probably discovered which social media channels they were using. How will you reach them? How will you reach your objective? What social media activities do you already participate in? Are they working well? Are you measuring your progress? If you haven’t heard of http://www.meetup.com, http://www.nearbytweets.com, http://www.yelp.com or http://www.foursquare.com then you had better start researching these social media sites because that’s where your customers are. The big three are Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Connecting with your clients is not about selling. It’s about developing a meaningful connection and building community. By connecting and interacting and offering assistance or information you will establish a presence. You will become someone they trust. They will then turn to you when they need a service or product you can provide. It really is no different that connecting with other business owners at chamber events. It takes time and diligence to develop a positive brand recognition and add new customers.
An example of this would be if the dry cleaning owner decides that there is a large population of seniors in his area but he is only getting a small percentage of their business. He could advertise locally but he could also find these seniors online (they all have computers) and create a blog and start interacting with them via Facebook or Twitter. He could start a newsletter they could sign up for – or he could start an online membership campaign giving discounts on certain days of the week just for seniors. By posting these regularly on his blog or twitter account people will start looking for this information and his customer base will grow. Restaurant owners have found twitter to be a creative way of letting they customers know what the specials are each day. Every business has potential online targets – you just have to know what your objectives are, who your target audience is, where they hang out (online) and connect. It really doesn’t have to be complicated. By creating a plan or strategy with clear measurable goals every business will naturally create an online presence. Social media marketing is for everyone. What are the social media objectives of your “brick and mortar” business?
All the best,
PS: Interested in learning more about Social Media training? Contact us at Lorac Virtual Solutions.