It’s overwhelming. It’s overloaded. Sometimes it’s just flat out too much! It’s the information age and we have answers, tips, advice and thinly veiled marketing pitches for the latest “this-that-and-the-other” coming at us from every direction. And sometimes we love it. Because (if the marketing department did their job right) we hope that this miracle product will make our business as profitable as we dreamed.
But when it comes to online marketing (and information in general), we just need the truth about what works and what doesn’t. And the truth is there is no miracle product for our business – meaning that while there are great things on the market, nothing eliminates the strategy work that the small business owner is responsible for.
So how do we get a handle on online marketing? I suggest we start at the heart of the matter and work our way out. In fact, Mike Blumenthal, “Professor Maps” and the man behind understanding Google Maps and local search, has created an infographic that helps us do just that.
Mike believes in building your core marketing first. He teaches small business owners, via GetListed Local University, to focus first on the marketing elements that you can control and then build from there. In other words, your marketing core begins with things like your business name, your phone number, your website and your blog. Build a strong foundation there and then move on to the social networks with a plan. His infographic helps you to see this concept.
I recently interviewed Mike and learned a few more things about him and this neat little tool. He feels that once we get the “big picture” of what our online marketing is for and should look like, it’s easier than we think. Mike is “a big believer that not only do small businesses need to understand the context of their marketing but they need to invest in their marketing in such a way that they are not giving away future equity without knowing it.”
What you don’t know about online marketing, about getting listed in directories, about the demise of the printed Yellow Pages, and the rise of online local searches (for everything from the closest restaurant to the nearest dry cleaner) can hurt you.
Training for Online Marketing
“Reason and information are the currency of life,” Mike says. If he’s right, then we’d better start spending that money wisely. According to him, “each marketing effort should leverage what went on before.” I agree. And to help us (learn how to) leverage, we need a simple and systematic way to understand the overall strategy. Here are three tools from Mike’s world to help with this:
GetListed is a simple website that tests your business listing in the search engines. Why? Because it’s relevant to small businesses. These days, when we get ready to go somewhere, we pull out our smartphones and Google it. Or we map it out on our laptops and print it out before we leave the house. Or we let the GPS guide the way. The point is, we are using the Internet to find local businesses, and so are our customers. GetListed helps you figure out where your business stands and gives you advice on how to improve it.
GetListed Local University is live and in person training that focuses on smaller cities like Birmingham, Alabama and Spokane, Washington. It’s a half-day event that’s designed to give small business owners “up-to-the minute, pitch-free education about online marketing.” As an avid educator at the GetListed Local Universities, Mike believes that “Social engagement is important, but if potential clients can’t find a business at the moment they are ready to buy, then the business will be in trouble.” In other words, establish your website and get listed in the directories first. Social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc) come second.
Mike’s Infographic: Web Equity – Owning Your Local Web Presence is a single visual. Mike designed it to show “the marketing opportunities that are available to small businesses.”
I like this tool. It takes some thinking to digest it. But with his concise explanations and a little focus, the concept behind an effective online marketing strategy becomes clear. And for me, that’s a breath of fresh air.