The Single Dumbest Reason to Market Online

Here’s a little story about online marketing and the reasons why people and businesses are investing big bucks in small potatoes. The moral of the story? Spoiler alert: Stop doing things because everyone else is.

Remember when you were young and you told your mom you needed to do something because “so and so” was doing it? Invariably, your mom’s response was, “If ‘so and so’ jumped off a cliff, would you jump too?”

It stung a little the first time, having the flaw in your stellar logic being pointed out so plainly. “Well, no,” you grudgingly replied.

Fast forward 30 or 40 years. Have you really learned the lesson your mother taught you? I can’t tell you how many calls I get each week from clients telling me that they need to be on Facebook, they need to be doing Pay Per Click, they need to be setting up a Pinterest account, etc., etc.  My answer is always the same, because I just relish hearing their response.

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“Why?” Then I wait, and there is usually a pause.

“Well, ‘so and so” is doing it and I feel like we need to be competing with them.”

Just because you see your competitor doing something doesn’t mean that it’s right. It’s the old story of “keeping up with the Joneses.”  In the online marketing world, plenty of people are jumping in without asking the right questions. My advice is simple: do your own research. Don’t buy into all the hype or nod your head slavishly when your ad agency tells you why you have to be there. Look for stories of people that are actually making money doing it, and figure out how much like those people you and your business are. Then make the decision.

Your business decisions offline should be the same as they are online. Do what makes sense and do what is going to make you money. Otherwise, you could be making a very dumb decision.

3 Signs Your Social Media Guru Is a Goof

Social media is keeping the fun quotient high on the Web and continues to change the ways people choose to connect with one another. No one needs to tell you how important it is as a communication tool for practically every kind of business.

Knowing that social media is of course the Next Big Thing, you’ve gone out and hired yourself an online marketer, or maybe a PR firm, or maybe gotten really targeted and hired a social media specialist yourself to get some advice about what your business should be doing. OK. But how do you know they’re any good? Here are a few signs they aren’t.

1. They’re not making you money

This point doesn’t need a whole lot of clarification, on the surface at least. Social media should not be an expense for your company. Done right, a healthy social media presence can be one of a company’s biggest assets. One benefit of social media is the ability to get metrics. It’s also a drawback, because it’s easy to be looking at the wrong metrics.

So you have 30,000 Facebook fans. And 600 people are following you on Pinterest. So what? Are all those followers converting to cash for your business? That’s what really matters. Challenge your agency to prove its value.

2. They’re a follower, not a leader

Are you a leader of a follower in your industry? Leaders write the rules. Followers follow the rules. If you feel have to shout out your qualifications before people will listen to you then you are a follower. If you insist on putting “MBA” in your title so people recognize you are educated, you are definitely a follower.  Leaders are confident who they are and what they can deliver and their presence and how they carry themselves speak worlds of them. Their experience speaks for itself.

We all have people we follow online and respect what they have to say but start to listen to the signs if they are a leader or a follower. You don’t have time to listen to a follower and need to either listen to the leaders or make your own rules.

3. They’re focusing on “immeasurables”

Even with all of the tools to measure the impact of social media campaigns, many marketers are still talking about esoteric “impressions,” “impact,” “brand building” or whatever else that keeps you happy and keeps the dollars flowing to their agency. The truth is that you won’t be able to track every turn of the cog in the brains of every one of your followers. Not yet, at least. And so you will have to “go with your gut” on some social media strategies.

But my advice: please don’t make this the norm. Ask your marketing team for a strategic game plan, with concrete steps to measure results and a clear goal that is related to increasing revenue. If you want to make more money from Twitter, a goal of “let’s do 2 more tweets per day” ain’t gonna cut it. A smart goal is more like, “let’s determine on average what each Twitter follower is worth in our industry, and then get 250 new followers next month without spending more than 20% of that total average follower worth.” Yes, that’s harder. But that’s because it’s worth doing.

A guest post by Scott Tobin for Sector45 .

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