Jonathan Huth, a partner in a new Toronto-based marketing firm called Conversion was asked his opinion on social networking. He was leaving work and got into a conversation with one of his new neighbours, another small business owner – who was clearly hoping for a little free advice.
Huth’s short answer: “Well, if you’re doing it just to be doing it, it’s probably not worth doing!”
That little exchange says a lot, it seems to me.
First, plenty of entrepreneurs are eager to harness the power of social marketing and cash in on what appears to be free promotion. But many of them are also completely unsure of how to exploit it properly.
Huth’s response points out that social media need to be used strategically. If you haven’t thought about the goal you intend to achieve and the way in which you’ll achieve it, all that tweeting and facebooking and blogging could be a giant waste of time and energy.
“Making noise on the internet can be like standing in a bar waving your arms and yelling,” Huth tells me. “You can attract attention – it doesn’t mean you’re going to build a relationship.”
Of course, the relationship business people want to build through social media is that of buyer and seller. For entrepreneurs hustling to pay the bills and see their company generate revenue, the ultimate goal of any type of marketing is to make more sales.
“We called our company Conversion
because that’s what we’re trying to do for our clients,” explains
Huth. “Convert clicks into customers.”
But not all entrepreneurs can afford to hire an agency to assist them. It’s tempting to tap into the free marketing resources on the web itself, such as Duct Tape Marketing. You can also find sites offering strategies to help you raise your company’s Google ranking.
But as always, anything that’s do-it-yourself is time-consuming and, as they say in the drug commercials, results may vary (i.e., they may suck). Considering the heavy workloads so many small business owners carry, is it worth the time and energy required to figure out an effective way to use social media?
Well, there are plenty of encouraging case studies out there.
At Roy Foss Motors, a GM dealer in Toronto, the vice-president of business development (and the founder’s 24-year-old grandson) has taken a big interest in social marketing. He says that while the strategy isn’t especially effective for big-ticket purchases like cars, the dealership sees potential.
“We recently offered e-coupons on Facebook,” says James Ricci. “We offered a 10 per cent discount off a service visit and it generated 140 appointments and $13,000 in sales.”
Hard numbers aren’t always easy to find, though.
Victoria’s Renaat Marchand (who got an investment deal on the first episode of CBC-TV’s Dragons’ Den last week) is a 48-year-old carpenter turned waffle-seller turned Twitter devotee. He can’t say exactly how much his tweeting has increased his sales but adds that “I’m 100 per cent sure it’s doing good things for my business.”
A good thing
He’s like several small business operators I spoke to for this column — unsure of exactly what they’ve spent on their social marketing program in terms of time, not clear on what it’s done for their bottom line, but convinced it’s a good thing to do.
Then again, isn’t it often a challenge to measure the effectiveness of marketing and advertising? It seems to me that social media are still at the stage where they require a leap of faith.
Copyright © 2010 MATADA