SCORE Small Business Blog

Web Marketing: Why Web 2.0 Marketing Is Hard for Us 1.0 Marketers

web 2.0 marketing

web 2.0 marketing

Web 2.0 marketing is messy, inefficient, slow, and sometimes painful. It requires lots of typing, some self revelation, and a vastly expanded playing field.  On top of that, when you get a bunch of customers together, you can’t focus on selling them.

Yesterday’s article in the Wall Street Journal describes “The Secrets of Marketing in a Web 2.0 World.” They provide the standard outline of how it’s done, and how it’s working.  I’m now going to tell you why it’s hard.

As a SCORE counselor, I see many startups and small businesses struggling to figure out how to market online.  So I decided to take 2008 and try these new techniques myself to market on behalf of our chapter, SCORE Chicago. By standing in the clients shoes, I thought I could provide more practical advice.

I started blogging, I podcasted, I joined Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.  I created Flickr and YouTube accounts.  I created online press releases and set up social networks.  And I wrote a series of blog posts which gather how-two links on web 2.0 marketing techniques in my Online Marketing Series. I’ve written 18 posts on How to Start a Social Networking Website.

So people say to me, “I’m now on Linkedin.  I’ve set up a business profile on Facebook.  Nothing happens.  What’s going on?”

Here’s the problem, the challenge. All this requires an uncomfortable shift of mindset and focus. Take it from one who’s been drinking the web 2.0 Kool Aid and trying to adapt.

It’s Messy. As the above Wall Street Journal article says, “Don’t control, let it go.”  This means when people post crazy things on your blog or when the wrong people want to be your friends, you should not edit or ignore.  Your resulting public posture has warts and irrelevancies and big red kiss images.

It’s Inefficient. I complained to Christopher Rollyson, a thought leader and master at helping companies to use Linkedin for sales and research, about how hard it was to find potential customers on sites like Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter.  He gently gave me a mindset adjustment.  In essence, he said:

Work on being helpful to and building your network, and then let them point you to the people you need to reach. Don’t think about gathering a list of people and sending them your messages.  Post questions like “Who knows anyone who is starting a business?” or “Does anyone need help learning how to blog?”

That’s more inefficient that my old-fashioned, targeted emails.

It’s Slow, Time-Consuming. To really be effective in an online community, you have to investigate and join its groups, offer useful individual responses, review lots of profiles and initiate contact with those who might share your interests.  I did this for a month in Facebook, and it does work.  I found several people who wanted free help to read a business plan or grow a business.  But, boy, does it take time.   You can automate the content updating in social networks to some extent, but “friending” is by nature personal.  I looked through profiles of members of the Chicago Entrepreneurs group.  I sent emails, asking about their business, their challenges.  This one-on-one is both its power and the time sink.

It’s Sometimes Painful. Both for the person who is the public face and for the organization, Web 2.0 requires exposure, self-revelation.  You have to be willing to publish your picture and enough personal details about yourself to be real. I swallow and update what I’m reading on LinkedIn, I have posted a picture of myself on an elephant in Facebook.  Your company has to accept a more real image, too.  SCORE Chicago would like not to be perceived as old white guys, but in fact most of are members are just that.  When I  create a Flickr feed of  counselors at a SCORE Chicago branch, you can see what you really will get.  We would like clients to think we have more racial and gender diversity than we do.   Further, SCORE Chicago is not yet comfortable posting counselor reviews which would promote our best counselors over others.

It Means Typing. All this interaction requires lots of typing.   And sitting in front of the computer for hours.  While many have mastered two finger emails, this requires more.  Not all are willing to live at their computers. Maybe you have to have a laptop so you can sit in different chairs while you do this.

It Means Incentives, Free Products. People, customers, don’t just sign up for your blog newsletter,  join your online community.  You have to offer discounts or cash rewards, or create custom products like white papers to get them to participate.  As the Journal article says, “Give customers a reason to participate.”  You also have to promote those incentives, both on and off your site. More pricing breaks, more product creation work.

It Involves an Expanded Playing Field. One web 1.0 marketer friend lamented the good old days when all you had to do to reach corporate training executives was buy a postcard ad in a card deck that everyone in the field received.  Maybe place an ad in Training magazine.  Now you have to interact on numerous websites and blogs.  As the Journal says, “Listen — and join — the conversation outside your site.”  You have to monitor what people are saying about your company on Digg, Delicious, Twitter, CompanyBuzz, etc.  You have to have a process for gathering all this information, analyzing it, and deciding how to act on it.

You Can’t Sell Directly. Now this is really a hard one.  You finally manage to get people signed up for your online community or coming to your blog.   But when you’ve finally got potential customers in one place, “Resist the temptation to sell, sell, sell” says the Journal.  Listen and consider customer ideas instead.  The difficulty is, of course, that they often want what you can’t deliver, or something your competitor is selling instead.  Good information, but you’re really like to book revenues, not two-year-out product modifications.

I agree with the Journal’s recommendation to experiment. That’s what I have been doing.   The experimentation, the learning, has been fun.  I struggle to keep all those plates twirling as I try the next big thing.

Web 2.0 marketing does, however, require a mental paradigm sift. I’m working on this.  At the same time, I want to focus on what is most productive, most important for marketing SCORE Chicago.

What’s your experience using Web 2.0 tools?  Blogging?  Online Communities?  All you devotees of Web 2.0 Cool Aid, are there easier ways of doing this?

-Peg Corwin, SCORE Chicago
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Discussion (19) Comment

  1. This may be a nice web page.

    I’ve bookmarked this particular site and I am going to notify my buddies regarding it.

    Thank you

  2. JonathanVisitor

    Great post peg I’m forwarding it to some of our clients

    • Peg CorwinAuthor

      Jonathan, I appreciate your posting a comment, a compliment even, on this blog. Web 2.0 marketing is hard, but it’s also the future, I believe.

  3. payday loansVisitor

    I liked a lot. It has lots of useful info. This article is very professionally written. I will be back for sure.

  4. As I read your blog, I picture a flower, who Darwin says has evolved into a food dispenser to bees in the hopes of being pollinated by it’s neighbor. I think the flower is not lamenting it’s food-dispensing duties, but on the other hand, is going the extra mile by providing a beautiful colorful fragrant landscape, which is it’s genius, it’s glory.

    All I know is that I need information as I start my nonprofit organization, and I found this page, and am helped by your ideas, and am inspired by your hard work. Thank you.

  5. Peg, just ran across this post again and wanted to point you to a new short paper that you might find relevant: “Realizing Value from Social Networks: A Life Cycle Model” it addresses the “path to value” of social networks:

    Hope this helps!

  6. Teri,

    I’m glad you found my frank web 2.0 experiences helpful for perspective. A blog and a Facebook page (now called public profile) would be excellent. On my Web 2.0 Marketing for Small Business Blog, I have a number of posts on Facebook marketing and blogging which you may find useful.

    We at SCORE are glad to advise nonprofits as well a for-profit businesses on these and other marketing efforts. SCORE offers free email counseling as well as face to face counseling locally. I’m in Chicago.


  7. Teri TithVisitor

    I enjoyed reading your article. I recently attended a workshop on Web 2.0 marketing for nonprofits given by a local blog evangelist. He glossed over much of the downside. Your article was very refreshing.

    I serve on the board of a nonprofit opera company. It’s a tough time to be in the performing arts business. Many opera company’s will fold before our economy recovers. With newspapers in as much trouble as other businesses, we’ve realized that we can no longer rely on critical reviews to attract a crowd, so bravely we go to the Internet and interactive marketing.

    I am beginning to think that a blog is a better avenue. I can Twitter and use my own personal Facebook account to “talk” about our company, but my efforts, all voluntary, will be on creating a wonderful blog, with multiple voices, frequent posts, and great images, and hope we can build an audience for it, and attract new support for our art form.

    Thank you Peggy for this balanced

  8. Jessie,

    Organizations that are already stretched with traditional marketing have difficulty seeing how they can add 2.0 techniques, especially when the time commitments are difficult to manager. Please do stop back and let us know how it’s going.


  9. JessieVisitor

    Thank you for sharing your comments on converting from 1.0 to 2.0! I’ve been looking at articles on Web 2.0 Marketting the last couple of days, and it’s nice to see one that isn’t all buzz and hype. Having just graduated and joined the business world, I’ve grown up on the internet and adapted with it. Right now I’m attempting to investigate how practical it would be to push Web 2.0 options to our web clients, and your article has helped me understand how difficult it may be for some people to convert over to this way of thinking!

    Thanks again, one of the more helpful articles I’ve come across on this topic.

  10. Since 2.0 started, things for 1.0′s have become more complicated and less productive. With 2.0′s advancement, the 1.0′s must find a way to cope up.

  11. Bruce WeinbergVisitor

    Hi Peg,

    Using some free Sunday afternoon time to surf through the blogosphere and I found your post here (what, I’m supposed to be watching football?). I know you posted it, and I commented, elsewhere. Hope it can’t hurt if I comment again: thanks for your kind words about our WSJ article. I’m impressed with your efforts. It is a lot of hard work. I’ve seen it payoff for many people and for many organizations. Best wishes as you become more expert!!

  12. AnnVisitor

    I am fairly new to Score and I am still researching all of the GREAT

    information that Score has to offer. And, I would like to simply

    thank contributors such as you for all of the helpful advice.

  13. Hi Peg, this sounds reasonable. I don’t visit these Web 2.0 sites often. Focus mostly on my Website, blog, Twitter which is quick, and which is awesome for showing up in Google.

    I’m almost finished with an eBook on shameless self-promotion. I’m covering online and offline things you can do to get publicity…get found online.

    Example: If I were looking for CPR training, I’d go to Google and type CPR training Chicago. If a Chicago journalist is doing a story about CPR and wants to interview a local expert, they’ll go to Google too and type CPR expert Chicago. That’s free, local advertising but you have to show up in the search.

    - I’d ask them to make sure they ask each customer how they heard about them. How are people finding them and what can they do to reach more of those people?

    - Is there some type of local yellow-page type Website in the area? Make sure they sign up. Atlanta has but that’s not how my clients find me so I don’t use it.

    If I had to choose for them, I’d have a great Website with helpful hints and tips. Do a group blog with related businesses so no one person has to spend a lot of time with it. And do offline marketing: have a contest that’s tied to a national holiday (or declare your own holiday), nominate yourself for an award, create an award, do something for a non-profit for free in exchange for publicity. Build media campaigns with traditional and online press releases around all this…partner with similar businesses and split the work/costs if you need to.

    Publicity helps you reach the masses instead of onesy-twosy selling, beating the bushes.

    Hope this makes sense.

  14. Amy,

    Your nice compliment on my blog made my week. If you’d like any personal advice, I’d be glad to counsel you by email or phone. Best wishes in your new venture.

    Peg Corwin

  15. Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Peggy. I’m thinking about how best to advise clients I have now, like those selling local services, ie CPR training for park districts, telecom consulting or custom printing. Or those with niche local customers for custom cables or cupcakes. The owners only have themselves to do marketing as well as run the business. In my view, they need to stick to basic activities like building mailing lists of customers, creating promotional flyers and making follow up sales calls. (They should also have a basic website, of course.) While they could start blogs or set up a page in Facebook, I don’t think that’s the best use of their 10 hours of marketing. For others who have the potential to consult nationally, like you do, or those with internet businesses, Web 2.0 marketing makes more sense for those 10 hours.

    If and when a business can afford to dedicate a full time person to marketing and sales, that person should devote some of their time to web 2.0 activities.

    Your thoughts on those recommendations?


  16. Amy McCannVisitor

    Thank you for the thoughtful and helpful comments about starting a new business in the web 2.0 world. Web 1.0 worked fine in my previous position working for a company well established in their niche. Now that I’m starting my own sales and marketing consulting business, I realize I will need to embrace web 2.0 marketing. Your other posts on how to increase your blog readership were also really helpful. thanks!

  17. Great article Peg!

    Like you, I spent 2008 digging around Web 2.0. My mission wasn’t about getting customers–at least not directly. It was about keeping my first place, organic ranking in Google without paying for it (pay-per-click). Search engines love blogs, slideshare, and other Web 2.0 tools. Journalists find me when they’re searching my expertise, so I’m always interviewed. That gives me credibility and exposes me to the masses that I would not otherwise reach.

    One thing leads to the next…how about a book deal I got, a barter situation I entered into to learn advanced Excel tips in exchange for teaching someone how to do a Webinar (this originated from Twitter). If you offer solid content and don’t worry about what you’re going to get, things will happen.

    I do sell. I’m building an email list by giving something away for free and I promote my workshops to this list. I’ll announce a new workshop at the top of an email, then add a computer tip afterwards. I also created banners for my blog that advertise my own stuff. This is another reason blogs are so important…way more than a Facebook profile, etc.

    To keep up with what’s being said about me or my books on the Web, I set up Google Alerts. I also use TweetBeep to find out if I’m showing up in tweets.

    And finally, I’m so glad I learned how to write (very important) and type way over 80 words per minute!

  18. Douglas KarrVisitor

    There are Software as a Service tools out there that come with the consultation and tools to make it as effortless as possible. I’d highly recommend looking for ‘business Web 2.0 solutions’ rather than simply experimenting with ‘Web 2.0 solutions’.

    Companies like ours have an advanced platform where you can limit your list above to only the ‘typing’ part – and it’s easier than writing an email.


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