Today's online marketing world is filled with talking heads. Apparently all you need to be a "marketing expert" today is a Twitter account and a few groupies to back you up at every turn. Social media has changed everything about online marketing (and peer review), and yet it has changed nothing about how business works, how sales are made, and how customer relationships are won and lost. In this post, I want to take a stand against "marketing for marketing's sake" and encourage Small Business Owners and Everyday Entrepreneurs to remember that marketing is pointless if it doesn't generate results.
Social Media As Religion
Plenty of so-called social media gurus would have you believe that there are new metrics and that social media is changing the way consumers behave online. Yes, today's consumer is a very different animal expecting more information, more transparency, and more interaction before making a purchase. But don't be fooled into thinking that this is entirely about media changes. It's also about economic changes, which are far more serious than the growth of social media. Sure, new media has changed today's consumer, but that doesn't mean you should pander to it as a means of reaching your customer.
Social media is important, and most businesses should be involved. But don't be fooled into thinking that it's somehow the end-all-be-all of marketing effectiveness. In fact, focusing on social media at the expense of other media could be a costly mistake to the long-term growth of your business. Never forget the great quote, "The majority is wrong."
What Actually Works For Your Business?
The most important rule in marketing is this: TEST. The fact is, what works for one business does not necessarily work for another. And even more telling, what works for YOUR business might not work for my business. Formulas, models, plans, guides -- these are all great places to start when formulating your marketing plan, but it's critical that you don't mistake the map for the territory.
You need to look at what's actually working, and then test as much as possible until you find out the best equation for your business, your customers, your prospects, and your entire marketing system. Until you implement and test, all anyone can do is speculate and theorize about what the best course of action will be.
Social Media Is NOT Selling
Sure, you may have thousands and thousands of social followers and fans. Sure, you might have a dash of celebrity as a result of your 21st century networking skills. Good for you. But can you actually sell? Can you actually get customers to part with their money? Can you actually structure powerful marketing sequences? Can you actually implement and test marketing campaigns that lead to results?
Quite frankly, social media is easy. Spend a few hours per day online kissing up to your favorite peeps, and I guarantee your Twitter account will multiply, your Google Plus circlers will flock to you, and your Klout score will grow by leaps and bounds.
But then what will you do?
Apparently, the name of the game today is to claim that you're a marketing expert and then sell your services to small businesses. They will then pay you "marketing fees" to help them "get more results" online. The poor small business owner expects results (he or she is in the MONEY business) but all you deliver is fans and followers (not prospects, buyers, and lifetime customers).
So, here's my warning to small business owners and entrepreneurs everywhere:
Beware of social media charlatans with their packs of groupies. Before you hire a marketing expert to grow your business, be sure they understand results-marketing rather than just fan-marketing. And be sure they're ready to implement, test, and implement to help YOU grow YOUR business (not to help them defend their way of doing things).