The end of the year is quickly approaching. It is time for all calendar-year businesses, both large and small, to start and conclude planning for 2013. There are usually three basic questions that kick off the process.
- How have you performed so far in the current year?
- What is the forecast for this year’s operating results?
- And lastly, what markets trends are in full view that would likely improve my prospects for next year?
Large businesses have the resources, time, and personnel to delve more deeply into these three areas, but small businessmen are sometimes more “budget constrained” and often refuse to apply disciplines that work on a large scale that may benefit their small business enterprises.
As far as what’s hot and what’s not, Social Media has bounded onto the scene, capturing everyone’s personal attention, but can it really reap huge gains for the small entrepreneur?
The simple truth is that social media or networking is still in its infancy. Marketing “gurus” will attest that everyone is “connected” and that this phenomenon represents the greatest marketing tool ever created.
These claims may sound inviting, but we are far from having enough data to support any accountability that bridges social connections to an eventual sale. What we do have is a mountain of new data, and the one thing that consultants do agree on is that competing on analytics will be the wave of the future. Staying “connected” with your customer will become more direct and personal.
Regardless of the hype, social media will not replace your website, but there are enhancements that will get you more in touch with potential customers.
Google has a tool available that is designed for this purpose, called the “Keyword Tool”. Peruse your own website and record at least twenty words that describe your industry or specific traits about the products you sell. The “tool” will suggest which terms are more relevant for searches on the Net. Proliferate more of the highly rated ones in your content, as well as raising them to “meta tags” on your best web pages.
You can “reverse-engineer” the process, too, by inserting the terms in Google and seeing what sights come up. If you visit forums and consider the people there as potential customers, then participate and be sure to add a link to your website. The more links that are out there pointing back to your site will increase traffic over time. You do not need a high-priced consultant to help you with this strategy.
The same is true for “blogging”. You can start by downloading the WordPress blogging platform from WordPress.org. Post articles that address your clients’ most asked questions and ask for comments. Share the content on Facebook and ask others to share it, as well.
Social networking is still in its early development stage, but people still yearn for “face-to-face” communications. Learn to use the new systems to advantage, but remember that goodwill requires efforts over time on several fronts.
Guest Author: Tom Cleveland from merchantseek.com.