Marketing your business effectively is difficult, bad marketing is one of the top killers of small business startups today. It doesn’t matter if you have the best product on the shelf or the best self-storage management software on the web, if no one sees it, then no one will buy it. But the more things change, the more they stay the same. And that goes as much for marketing as it does anything else.
Picture the average customer: they’re most likely going to be a reasonably intelligent person and a somewhat savvy consumer; people don’t like to feel as though you are buttering them up for a sale, like a used car salesman— people value authenticity, especially coming from a business.
If you’re going to use Twitter or Facebook to market your business, you need to offer something that your customers want and will use. Don’t try to be their friend or act like your business is somehow just like any other person posting online, (don’t, for instance, make a lot of “random” status updates or post a bunch of unrelated pictures) but engage with your customers in ways that will be useful to them as customers.
Use social media to offer discounts, promotions, and for holding raffles and contests to get people in the door. Don’t waste time trying to convince anyone that your business is young and hip like them. Because you’re not young or hip, you’re a business. Use social media to let potential customers get to know you as a business. Tell them about your company values, your services, and company culture.
There are lots of people peddling web tricks and magic fixes out there. Don’t get me wrong, online marketing can be very effective and a smart SEO strategy can build the web presence of any business. But the marketing tactics that get the most results are old-fashioned direct marketing and word of mouth. What is the lifetime of a tweet? How effective is your e-mail newsletter if it goes straight to the customer’s spam inbox?
Again, I’m not trying to dissuade anyone from using technology to market their business, but think about the kind of impact your tweets have versus that of a refrigerator magnet with your company logo on it. At the end of the day it’s all up to you, your business, and most importantly, your customers. Just remember not to pick up a bunch of new-fangled marketing techniques at the expense of the old ones that still get results.