“I have written a business plan but I haven’t actually included word of mouth as a channel for marketing.”
Isn’t it interesting that most people who are contemplating starting a business or who have written a business plan typically do not add word of mouth into their plan?
There’s a reason for it – While it is the oldest and most effective way to promote your business in a particular community, it isn’t the most reliable and efficient. Especially not with the many apps and online approaches that you have available to you today. Shouting over rooftops, broadcasting about your business, or attending a multitude of networking sessions may have had its place in the past (large businesses that have tidy marketing budgets still use broadcasting to engage the mass media), but a small business can’t really justify the expense. So what’s a small business to do to get the word out?
In comes social media, the new alternative to word of mouth. In the past, it was important to attend networking sessions and belong to networking groups to spread the word about your new business – BNI, Rotary, Chambers of Commerce, etc. That remains the case even today. But for those that are not comfortable confronting others or have a very hard time pitching their product/services or are just socially uncomfortable, there is definitely an alternative. Social Media Networking bridges that gap and some.
Social Networking as a marketing platform has been in existence for a while but we have only come to use it for business in the last decade or so. It allows businesses to quickly set up a profile and create an online presence as easily as you would a personal profile. Once the profile is up, it is just a matter of connecting to your target audience by posting valuable content as often and as consistently as possible. This may seem daunting to many small businesses but with time it grows easier and adds value.
Just a few years ago, it was difficult to convince anyone of the value of social media networking. There were a lot of skeptics that believed Social Media Networking was a fad and that it would become obsolete as quickly as it had arrived on the scene. But interestingly, it has been several years now, and you don’t see the medium slowing down – in fact it is here to stay. It seems to be growing and there are now niche social networks that are cropping up to further your ability to engage with your potential target audiences. It makes for a very exciting marketing plan for a business to determine which avenues to pursue, the types of content to post and the frequency required to keep contact with their connections.
All said and done, a piece of advice for those of you who are newly launching a business is to not discount Social Media Marketing. It gives you a platform to pitch your business and is a viable alternative to the days past of “Word Of Mouth” promotion. Don’t be mistaken, word of mouth does play an important part in the local marketing of a business, but my point is, why limit the possibilities when there is a larger playground out there?
Next week, look forward to “Getting the Most Out of Your Social Media” – a look into a few tips to optimize the use of your Social Media Networks and deciding what works best for your business.