I've worked for years to help small business owners learn how to take the complex processes of advertising online and make it simple to understand.
Take web design. There are actually around 300 hundred or more steps involved in creating the best websites.
Yet building one can cost nothing (except someones time) on up to tens of thousands of dollars or a lot more!
How can there be such a large price spread for something that in the end looks similar to the average end user?
The easy answer...
It depends on what you want to do with it once its built!
There are really only 2 options for a small local business to use a website effectively in advertising their business. You can...
Build it and then promote it using traditional media methods.
Build it the way search engines require and get found “organically” or using “free traffic”
Many still think of a website as an “online brochure” to help sell or tell customers about their products or services.
However with social media entering the picture as a new way for businesses to connect with prospects and customers, it forever changed the way small businesses approach advertising and doing business. Yet most owners and managers still do not understand it very well.
Large retailers have even had major growing pains because of consumers changing their buying habits. I've watched this process over the last 25 years and while some of it did not evolve as I thought it would, much of it has.
I've worked with companies of all sizes and their advertising agencies.
But I've made it my mission in life to understand how people like me, “the little guy” can afford to compete with the “big boys”.
When I first understood how the Internet could change the business world I began to watch and study with great enthusiasm and interest. However 25 years ago the number one problem I saw small business owners having was not managing their customer databases effectively.
Everyday I would see business owners who did not track the contact information of the people who came to their businesses or connect them with what it was they were purchasing.
Having learned from direct mail industry that “the gold was in the list”, I would share the idea with my clients that it was proven to be much more cost effective to market and advertise to your current customer base than to find new prospects.
I got very excited when I saw how much easier that would get for small businesses as the Internet evolved.
Fast forward 25 years and it is still the number one problem of small businesses today.
Are you surprised?
No one is more so than me. I'll talk more on that in a minute.
But why, why is marketing and advertising so difficult for small business owners?
Because all small to mid-size business owners need to understand the how and where to advertise their businesses and what is the minimum they can spend to be effective and still get a return on their investment.
The amount of information available today on marketing and advertising a business is insurmountable. EVERYONE is an expert from the high school kid who learns to code websites, to the old timer like me who has just been around long enough to learn a few things.
What sets me a part from many is my experience on both side of the coin, I've both bought and sold advertising for many years! I've done so for myself and many others, but understanding “the how and why” for the smaller business owners has been my biggest motivation since the early eighties when I started spending my own money on it.
As a small retailer who started off in 1980 with $1500 of his own money (borrowed money) and a partner who had the same, we began a waterbed store business, which back then was a booming industry. For the next 10 years I would work in retail businesses.
Then 1989 brought me an opportunity to sell TV ads in the area for a local station. For the next 10 years I would call on small business owners to help them with their advertising decisions each month. After a few years I would get very frustrated trying to “convince them to buy from me” instead of the other guys.
Of course back then there were a lot fewer choices. Newspaper was still very dominant, everyone had their favorite radio station and TV was thought off as just to expensive for the little guys. Throw in things like shoppers, cable TV and specialty type advertising like billboards, T-shirts or pens and those were most of the choices a small business had to “get the word out” about their business.
In 2012 I ventured out on my own to “teach small business owners what they need to know' about the “New Tech Advertising” choices that were rapidly becoming available.
I watched as the evolution of the Internet became this “beast of knowledge” that was now available to everyone. “Big Data” from companies like Yahoo and Google grew into software “apps” which made it much easier to understand consumer behaviors and track their purchases into predictable patterns that could ensure steadily growing sales and made it easier to keep track of customer info.
Still small business owners could not master all that data that could help them manage their businesses better.
Then mobile devices came along and for several years webmasters struggled to overcome the obstacles between the home PC transitioning websites into smaller screens and make a website work across all the Internet.
These types of battles went on for years until today when it all seems like it just happened to become
what it is today.
As I started off saying I wanted to make the complex world of online digital marketing easier and affordable for the average small business owner. Instead I gained enough knowledge to “become dangerous”. Soon I was overwhelming and confusing and even pissing off those I was trying so hard to help.
BUT No longer is one media effective to advertise with, a business owner must know who their customers are and where to find them. But with so many choices and the limited advertising budgets most have to work with, it is essential to do it right.
How can someone figure it all out given the self-interest of all sales reps just trying to make a living, who can you believe?
With so much varying information available how does one know what is best for their business?
Which brings me back to where I started. I do not have an interest in selling you advertising!
My interest is in helping you lay the proper foundation for using digital advertising in your business, no matter how big or small your business is.
When some of the first websites went online “getting traffic” was somewhat easy, but I'll spare you most of the technical details that made it happen then and the differences today.
It has always been and is still true today that every business is unique. Every business owner brings something to their businesses to make it successful or not.
Today customers buy everything for their own reasons, and they do research before they buy, there is always someone going after your customers. The Internet leveled the playing field for all with search algorithms that allow us to find whatever we want, whenever we want it.
So every business needs to have its own unique advertising strategy.
That's the difference in my services over the local sales rep or telemarketer calling your business to sell you advertising for their media.
My approach is to first determine your uniqueness in your market place and your customers approach to buying. I then research the medias that will most cost effectively deliver your business message to your customers and prospects.
Instead of selling you a TV, radio or newspaper schedule or say, oh, by the way I can also give you a links to a high traffic website or “audience impressions” I approach it from the other side, the side of your business.
I want to make sure you have a proper foundation in your digital presence in the online world!
That now starts with your company website!
Next the “social channels” your customers most often use come into play.
However, building your website to provide people with the information they are looking for is essential... and being there when they are looking for the info is the first step to creating effective advertising campaigns.
If a prospective customer finds your website, but not the information they are looking for “they bounce” onto the the next website, likely your competitors. They often will not even do business with you of they do not like your website.
Now there are multitudes of social media channels and each personality type has their favorite. Do the majority of your customers use Facebook or Instagram? Are they watching videos on YouTube or streaming their favorite shows on Netflix?
The next shift in how and when people consume their favorite programs is changing yet again while more and more consumers are dropping cable or satellite providers and instead using streaming services. Making it even more difficult to reach people with your business's advertising.
So now what?
That's where my approach differs!
I will support your business by helping you build a foundation for online success!
First I'll review your website and advertising budget to help you determine the best approach for the uniqueness your business offers.
Then we determine which website approach is best for you. Do you advertise with radio, newspaper or TV. If so, do you promote your website address in those medias?
Is your business found most often by your customers when they “search the web”. If so then “SEO” or Search Engine Optimization becomes very important.
Once the cornerstone of your online presence is laid, we can begin with where your customers are “hanging out” and what social channels will be the most effective for your business.
Every business owner dreams of not needing to spend any money on advertising. For the little guy it feels like taking money from your pocket and throwing down a hole. You never know for sure what advertising media is working, so you spend money with “the sales person you like” or because “everyone listens to XYZ station or this popular show”
I know it works that way because that is what the frustrations was about I spoke of when selling local TV advertising.
Time and time again I would watch while a business owner would buy an ad campaign that I knew from my experience would not work very well.
For example, a store selling western wear style clothing advertising on a rock-n-roll radio station. Then I realized selling TV ads wasn't always the right answer for my client either, but I still needed to make a living.
I was very conflicted because I wanted to provide effective campaigns for my clients but knew I couldn't always do that with the programming I was expected to sell. Like a small local restaurant advertising in a news program that wasn't being watched by people who would likely never eat there.
Another realization I had involved demographics and psyco-graphics that had to do with personality types or hobbies and interests.
I began working with a local sewing machine repair store and one day I asked “how much of the overall population is actively involved in sewing”? His answer was about 20% of everyone sews, quilts or would ever consider coming into his local business.
It dawned on me that even if I could sell him a commercial that every person within driving distance of his business could actually see it would mean 80% of the money he spent on the ad would be a waste because they had no interest in what he sold.
Hence evolved my passion for advertising done right!
Its not just about how big the ad budget is or even if you have a great website or Facebook page.
Its about being the business that gets found when someone is shopping!
Clearly “E-Commerce” is taking over and even very large well established business's like Sears and K-mart are struggling to stay in business
What hope does the small business owner have at competing with larger competitors.
One of the most exciting things being said in the early days of the “World Wide Web” was about how it “leveled the playing field” because now any business could build a website that would allow them to compete in the same space “the Internet”.
Its only become more and more complicated over the years and more misunderstood.
Few business owners have the time to learn to understand it and the blending of the old advertising methods and the new digital advertising are still coming together in ways we barely imagined 20 or 30 years ago.
So having someone in your corner who works to continuously understand the digital world of advertising will be in your business's best interest.
I will give you straight answers to your advertising questions and not just sell you commercials to line my pockets with commissions.
You might disagree with my ideas, but they will come from a place of experience that is thoroughly thought out and put together based on what has been working for others.
I have a track record with small business owner who've loved what I've done for their business. I've pissed off a few along the way too because they didn't agree with me and misunderstood what is was I wanted to do for them.
Thus began this effort to write out and clarify what it is I can do for your business with transparency, honesty and straight answers to direct questions.
We'll do it together as I coach you along the way to build your business so it works for you!