Really? How do you know? I’ve heard this line many times and it’s one of the most common reasons people in small business give for why social media isn’t a good fit for them.
What about advertising? Direct mail? How many of your customers are you reaching through those channels? A lot of the small business owners I’ve met aren’t sure they are getting any value out of ads and mailings. “Truth is,” they say, “I get most of my customers through word of mouth.”
Guess what? If word of mouth is your top marketing channel, you had better rethink your attitude about Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and the rest. Social media makes word of mouth visible. Because of that, I happen to think that social media are more relevant marketing tools for small and medium sized businesses than they are for big national brands.
If you integrate online and social media into your advertising and direct mail with something as simple as promo codes, you can even make the formerly invisible effects of your traditional marketing visible. But don’t take my word for it. Measure it.
Consider the case study of a retailer cited by Olivier Blanchard in his talk on measuring word of mouth the other day at the Word of Mouth Supergenius in Chicago: Though 90% of their marketing spend was on newspaper ads, E-mail, Facebook, and the retailer’s blog all brought in significantly more customers than print.
- 4% came from print ad codes
- 69% came from email
- 17% came from facebook
- 10% came from the blog
Not to trash print ads, but too often they are the default for many small businesses, nonprofits and educational institutions. In my experience, most small businesses never measure the ROI of different marketing tactics and channels, and proceed with advertising largely on faith. (Businesses based on direct-mail sales being a prominent exception.)
Alas, according to a recent survey, small business owners still have a long way to go in online and social media marketing. But the real problem is not knowing what works, and the solution is to measure and find out. I’ll choose evidence-based marketing over faith-based marketing any day. So before you say “My customers don’t use social media” again, ask whether that’s just your impression, or if you have real data to back that up.
Want more? If you still aren’t convinced, say, because “my customers don’t use Twitter,” Laura Fitton provides 5 great reasons why businesses should be on Twitter even if they think their customers aren’t.