5 simple ways to unplug your marketing strategy

Let’s face it: social media marketing isn’t what it used to be.

In just a few years, we’ve gone from placing full-page ads in magazines and relying on email and direct mail pieces, to placing banners on blogs and interrupting every possible aspect of life. The phones don’t stop ringing. Those full-page ads, most magazines are sill full of them. My Facebook feed is a hot mess of sponsored posts, recommended content, and videos that play automatically. It’s harder and harder to tell if my Google search results are organic.

And yet, mobile ad spending is at an all-time high, with Facebook and Google leading the pack. How do small businesses compete – or even budget – in such a constantly changing marketing landscape?

Small business marketing – unplugged

Screen shot 2014-04-29 at 5.01.27 PMThe answer for small businesses is to remember unplugged marketing as well. Consider the difference between browsing through LinkedIn for connections and attending a business conference. When you are in the same room with a group of like-minded people, you’re bound to share the story of your business, not just in an effort to increase sales, but because you never know when this new relationship may lead to a business partnership. The same is true with marketing. Here are some tips for unplugging your marketing strategy:

  • Greet people. Whether online or in-person, I’m always impressed when someone takes a minute to introduce themselves and tell me about their businesses. Saying “hello” is the first step, on Twitter, on Facebook, and in the grocery store line. If someone likes or favorites you, saying thank you will go a long way!
  • Listen. You’re in line at the neighborhood Starbucks and you overhear the people behind you discussing a business issue, their kids, or a sporting event. Whether you are a nanny, a consultant, or a landscaper, chances are you have something to contribute here. The same holds true in regard to Twitter conversations. Sometimes brands have the opportunity to jump in and contribute to trending conversations, and promote their brands in the process. But, if you’re not listening, you are deaf to the opportunities around you.
  • It’s not all about you.  If all you do is talk about how great you are, people will tune you out. If you talk about how great they are, suddenly you have an audience. For every 2 Tweets, Facebook updates, or sales pitches you give, you should be posting or pitching 8 interesting, informative, entertaining and/or educational information.
  • Do your due diligence. You wouldn’t go to a book discussion without at least reading the book jacket. Regardless of how busy you are, before you attend a webinar, a banquet, or networking event, do a little research. Find out what the topic will be, and be prepared with relevant questions. Use Twitter and LinkedIn to find out who’s going to be there, and even introduce yourself weeks before the event begins.
  • Be human. Smile. Make eye contact. If we apply Pareto’s 80/20 principle to business, 80% of our sales come from 20% of our customers. We should know those customers, and foster real, mutually beneficial relationships with them to secure their business for years to come.