Do You Need to Get Serious about Internet Marketing in 2012?

by Joanne Steele on December 27, 2011

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There is a myth among small local business owners that “everyone is an internet marketing master but me.”

child reading internet marketing bookThe reality is that more of you are struggling with internet marketing than are comfortable with it. I get lots of emails confirming that.

I belong to a forum, “Social Media in Travel” on LinkedIn. People in businesses large and small are part of this forum, and the discussion indicates that size doesn’t matter when it comes to confusion about how to market on the internet!

So now you realize that you have lots of company… Where do you start, if you’ve determined that you need to do SOMETHING in 2012??

I found several reports from the Pew Research Center that will help you answer that internet marketing question.

The first step is, of course, to know who your customer is and what her or his needs, wishes and desires are that your business can serve. If you’re a regular reader, you know I talk about this all the time. For you newbies, here are a few past posts to catch you up:

The Power of Targeting Your Customer, a Success Story

How to Target Your Perfect Customer Like Facebook

Check out, “How People Learn About Their Local Community,” an interactive graph to show you where folks get what kind of information. The high internet figures (28%) for “local business” is key. Are these your customers?

Go to “Major Trends in Online Activities” and drill a little further into the data to find out. This study is a year old, but indications are that the internet is getting more, not less important for every age group. The thing I find interesting is how the internet is catching on with older users, and how it is changing for younger users. Pay attention to these internet marketing trends. Everything is in flux, and change is the only constant.

Too many of you are worrying about social media and balking at the idea of spending hours daily, “creating relationships” on Facebook and Twitter, in hopes of making a sale.

Facebook and Twitter may not be the most valuable places for you to start!!

Another Pew study indicated that people looking for local businesses and restaurants are NOT relying on these two social media icons.

So, here are my suggestions for getting started on internet marketing in 2012.

1. Set up and manage your Google Places Page.

Follow all the rules. Decorate it with pictures. Work to encourage your customers to leave reviews there. Make Google happy and well informed about your business.

2. Find out what’s already being said about your business online.

There are companies making big bucks doing this, but you can do it yourself by googling yourself and setting up Google Alerts to tell you when something new is being said. It’s called reputation management. It is an important internet marketing activity.

You’ll probably find reviews you didn’t know about that need a response.  You’ll discover places that have you listed that will serve you better if you “claim your business” and add information and images.

That’s a good start. No Facebook. No Twitter. No incomprehensible tech terms. Just you getting more knowledgeable and confident about internet marketing while building your online presence. More steps soon…

Photo on Flickr by Shawn Collins

 

1 Herb Lawrence January 2, 2012 at 12:54 pm

Great article as usual Joanne! Have to agree with you about where to start..capturing and optimizing your local listings is more important to most of our small businesses to do first than social, although I am still a big “fan” of the opportunities social media offers to our small businesses if done correctly. I am assuming that the other point that needs to be done first is having a good website, although didn’t see it mentioned am guessing that is a “given”? Thanks again, look forward to reading your articles in 2012 and keeping us all grounded in what really matters for small business online marketing.

2 Joanne Steele January 3, 2012 at 9:12 am

Yes Herb, a great website is a vital component. Unfortunately, many small businesses are paralyzed into doing nothing because they simply don’t know how to approach improving their website. I hope that by giving small business owners a taste of success by doing a few simple doable things, they’ll be ready to tackle the website issue with gusto.

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