A lesson learned, the Solana Beach Experience
For seven years, Shawn McClondon has owned and operated My Social Media Monster, a small start-up that he runs out of his home office in Solana Beach. And for the last few years, He has been walking into local businesses to sell the digital media services that My Social Media Monster provides. What has always been interesting to him is the consistency in responses that he receives. The two most common responses have been, “We don’t do online marketing,” or that “I don’t believe that it works.” These responses are not different than what you might hear from most SMB’s with tight budgets and older owners still having a hard time understanding the way that business has changed. What surprises him the most is their commitment to the idea that business only starts when people walk through the doors.
Over the last few years, he has unfortunately witnessed this widespread miscalculation contribute to the closure of many great little shops throughout Solana Beach, including places on Cedros and Highway 101. Some of the closures took place just days or weeks after one of his walk-in visits. By no means does he believe that online marketing is the only answer for every struggling SMB, or that it will never fail to deliver your desired results. What he does believe, is that local businesses can no longer afford to bury their heads in the sand and pretend that online marketing is not the future.
Here are his four simple tips to make your transition a little smoother.
1. Employ an integrated online marketing strategy. This is where most SMB’s make the biggest mistake, and why they usually feel that online marketing does not work. Small budgets and an overall lack of knowledge, leads most businesses to try one marketing channel at a time, in an effort to find what one tool will give them the most bang for their buck. This approach is not greatly effective and will cost you more money in the long run. Every business must develop a plan to market their business using an array of marketing tools, in a coordinated effort to accomplish business objectives. Most integrated marketing approaches include web design, paid search and social media marketing, all working together. Don’t assume that you have to purchase each of these services initially, sometimes a simple solution is to coordinate what you currently have first.
2. the data. Make sure that you have established your online marketing goals, a method of measuring your goals and the steps that it will take to achieve each goal.
3. Cross promote. You may not have the online audience right now to make a significant difference. By establishing creative partnerships with other local business, with complimentary services, you can combine audiences and expand your foot-print.
4. Know your audience. Make sure you work with someone that understands the local clientele and the unique challenges of the local area.
If you own or operate a business in Solana Beach and you are interested in applying some of these techniques, we invite you to participate in the Solana Beach Youth Helping Businesses Project. This project will help local business gain much needed exposure while providing youth an opportunity to get valuable work experience in online marketing. Click here to learn more about the project.