The first casualty of any recession or period of economic downturn is generally the marketing budget.
It’s a sad fact, but true none the less. Understandably any business will want to get value for money from its advertising, and will therefore look to trim those areas which it considers are not justified and do not appear to give a sufficient return on investment. Some businesses have looked to the social media to fill the hole, and argue that social media marketing is the most cost-effective strategy for targeted marketing. It’s often been thought that larger business to business organisations were the ones who were not keen as they fail to see the relevance and benefits of social media exposure for their businesses. Yet, statistics published by Forrester in March, 2011, would tend to suggest that these big players are now increasingly embracing the medium as an essential part of their overall marketing mix.
The survey found that 30% of these big businesses intended to increase their overall spend in the following year.
What the study did highlight, however, was that it was the smaller businesses who were unconvinced of the value and benefits of the platform, preferring instead to rely on word-of-mouth recommendations for attracting new business. Well, we couldn’t disagree more. Social media exposure can benefit all businesses: it will help to increase your brand exposure, and help you to interact with your online community. Here are three reasons why.
It’s often thought that blogs are simply another way of indirect marketing, and to some extent that’s true. However, they can also be an awful lot more. Blogs let businesses communicate directly with their customers and members of their community. They allow business to invite comment and questions, and give them the ideal platform with which to respond. A good business blog will allow your company to tell its story, let the readers know what it’s up to and what future plans it’s got in-store. You can tell them about your key staff and what each individual does. There’s a fine line between blatant marketing and brand promotion and giving your customers valuable information. If handled carefully, a blog is capable of achieving this: if you want to be seen as the go-to company for your industry sector, then blogging is for you.
No matter how carefully crafted and skilfully written your company blog may be, it can never be as persuasive as a video. Pictures, particularly motion pictures, speak louder than words. Now there was a time when video marketing was prohibitively expensive: there was also the problem that the quality was generally not that good. However, things have now changed. Costs have reduced making them viable for smaller businesses, and the quality has improved dramatically. Video marketing platforms like YouTube give companies the opportunity to demonstrate products, educate audiences and engage with the community in general. If there is a problem, then it’s probably one of relevance. All businesses need to find a format that is engaging to an audience but remains relevant to the customer and business sector. If you can manage that, then frankly you’re on to a winner.
Professional social networks.
It’s all well and good engaging with social networks like Facebook and Twitter, but as any hard-nosed business person will tell you, it’s the bottom line that counts, particularly amongst business to business organisations. It’s more a question of cultivating sales and building new leads and contacts. Now Facebook and Twitter at both capable of this, but for business professionals, the best network is undoubtedly LinkedIn. The network is useful for getting introductions to new potential sales contacts, and can also be a great place to demonstrate industry expertise, by taking part in community discussions and answering the more complex questions in the Q & A forums. The real beauty of the platform, however, is its scale. If your business can cultivate a network of a hundred or so connections, then in no time at all it will have the potential to be able to reach thousands of potential contacts. Surely that has to be good for business?