Recently, SCORE hosted a social media panel discussion in conjunction with the Sarasota Library at Jacaranda in Venice and simulcast with Selby Library in downtown Sarasota. The five panel experts included Ron Belyea, Propel Marketing – Herald-Tribune Media Group; Raj Doraisamy, RD Media; Scott Gonnello, author of “SEO Mistakes;” Mical Johnson, Omen Interactive; and Barbara Langdon, Momentum Marketing.
Here are a few of the questions posed to the panel and the members’ answers. Moderator Gretchen Miscik, a SCORE mentor, asked the questions.
Q: What trends have the largest impact on marketing strategy and tactics for small businesses and why?
A: (Ron Belyea) It’s the ability to target. The amount of information that we’re collecting makes it easier to target your customer.
A: (Raj Doraisamy) Mobile. There’s just been an explosion in the number of ways people interact with their mobile device. There’s also a shift in our culture. We’re continuing to become an increasingly more impatient consumer. We want it now. What do you mean I have to wait for 10 seconds? That’s unacceptable.
Our demographic is shifting. Age is shifting, behavior of those ages are shifting. These variables are impacting the way people are doing business. I second what Ron mentioned: the ability to get very precise metrics on what people are doing.
A: (Scott Gonnello) There’s a ton of data out there that you can have at your fingertips. It’s all free. You just have to know where to look and how to filter it for your specific industry, product or service. The key is to use that data on a regular basis to help your company grow.
A: (Mical Johnson) The technology and data that’s available are great, but if you can’t actually do anything with it, then you’re stuck in the same situation that you were in before. As the technology advances, there’s a lot more enterprise-level applications that you’re able to use now at the small-business level. They won’t cost you thousands of dollars a month to use. Constant Contact is one of those type of applications for doing email marketing.
A: (Barbara Langdon) Using digital media to effectively tell a company’s story creates impact. It also impacts how we design email or use a website. That, in combination with what I call internet induced ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), means we’ve got to have the story in three seconds. That has made a difference in how we tell our story online.
Q: If I’m already making a good living and experiencing success using only traditional marketing, do I need to delve into digital marketing?
A: (Raj Doraisamy) Look at the behavior of your customers and consumers. If you see changes in the way they are behaving, then that’s what you need to be staying current with (digital marketing). When consumer behavior is changing, you must change as well. You don’t have a choice if you want to stay relevant to your customers and prospects.
A: (Scott Gonnello) If you’re doing well doing what you’re doing now, that’s great. However, you can wake up three weeks from now and that’s moved on. By creating a better digital footprint and expanding on the success you’re having now, it will be a lot easier than being behind the gun and trying to catch up.
Everything online is relative — everything. How you search, what you search, what you do, where you’re searching from, it’s all relative. Don’t go out and blindly dive into digital marketing because you went to a seminar. Do some searches. See what’s out there. See what’s popping up with your competition. Is it working well in that sector, or is it working better in another sector? Research before you dive in. You should always be expanding your business; like the internet, it’s going to change just about every day.
A: (Mical Johnson) The biggest reason I got into digital marketing was because of that old adage that half of your marketing dollars are wasted. The trouble is determining which half and figuring it out. With digital you can track everything. The only problem you have is knowing where to look. With all the tools available now, you can fill in the gaps.
If you’ve been doing traditional marketing and had some success, then you have a good idea of who your customer is. If you start driving them online, you can track and obtain more information about your perfect customer. Then use that feedback to target them very precisely. It starts with knowing that perfect customer. If you’re doing traditional marketing, the next logical step is to get a better understanding of who your ideal customer is. It will probably surprise you.
A: (Barbara Langdon) I have a successful customer in his 60s who is planning on retiring in a year. He knows nothing about and distrusts technology. He shouldn’t worry about digital marketing. He should keep doing what he has been doing.
For the rest of us, the reality is that people look online for information on products and services and the people who provide those products and services. This is happening more and more every day. Like technology or not, it’s the reality. We have to grapple with it and figure out how to make it work for us.
Zink: Remember, the best place to learn more about digital marketing is Google. It’s Ron Belyea’s best friend.
Dennis Zink is a volunteer, certified mentor and chapter chairman of Manasota SCORE and chairman of the Realize Bradenton board. He is the creator and host of Been There, Done That! with Dennis Zink, a nationally syndicated business podcast series. He facilitates a CEO roundtable for the Manatee Chamber of Commerce, created a MeetUp group, Success Strategies for Business Owners and is a business consultant. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.