In the 20 years that I have been working with small businesses, I have identified what I believe to be the 3 marketing tactics that most small businesses think they need but in reality, they should NOT be investing in. In no particular order, they are:
As the owner of a digital marketing agency in South Florida, you might wonder why I am writing an article bashing two services my company offers. Let me start by expressing how much I believe in the services we offer. I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if I didn’t believe in the work we do for our clients every day. Instead, this article is to state that there’s not a one shoe fits all for your marketing tactics.
If oxygen is what keeps humans alive, revenue is what keeps businesses alive. With small businesses, cash flow is king. It’s what enables them to grow or forces them to close their doors.
Search Engine Optimization:
Make no mistake, I believe over time SEO will be the best ROI for your business. This is a long term strategy. SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. I find so many small businesses wanting SEO because it’s a hot buzzword for online marketing. But let me set the record straight and explain how SEO works.
SEO is organically (naturally) ranking your website on the first page of Google. Before I go into the details of how this works, let me explain Google’s highest priority. Google cares most about its users and their experience.
In its early years, Google would rank a website highly even if it was not relevant to the search that was performed by the user. This was because companies figured out how to “trick” or “beat” the search engine giant. Those days are long gone.
Today, it’s practically impossible to trick Google. Instead of playing games, the best strategy is to give Google exactly what they want. Good old fashioned Quality Content. If you are wondering how to create high-quality content for Google, we have taken the liberty of creating a step by step guide, a “cheat sheet” if you will, to writing a blog that Google will love.
How Does SEO Work?
Google looks at two things when ranking your website.
- On-page factors - these are things that are ON your website. There are many on-page elements. Your Blog is the most important on-page factor.
- Off-page factors - these factors have nothing to do with your website. Only other 3rd party sites/blogs. So if a credible 3rd party website has a link of your website on theirs, Google sees that as value.
You might be wondering if you can do SEO yourself. You can absolutely do it on your own but to do SEO the right way, it requires a lot of time and skill. While you can learn and perform SEO on your website, it is not a good use of your time.
In other words, you will be spending about 10-15 hours per week to do quality SEO work. That’s 40-60 hours per month. If you value your time at just $50 hour, you are actually spending $2000-$3000 a month on SEO. With the many small business owners I have spoken to, the most common mistake I see is that they do not put a monetary value on their time. In other words, they think if they do it, it will be free. But as the DIY SEO example shows, doing so will be a larger investment than hiring a professional. Plus, Google’s algorithm changes daily so when you have the budget, you really should leave the technical nature of SEO work to the professionals.
Another big mistake I see small businesses making is hiring someone to manage their business’s social media accounts. I have seen small businesses pay $1500 month for someone outside of their office to “post” content on their social media sites. This is a big mistake for small businesses for 2 reasons:
- Unlike SEO, there is a very low ROI on organic posts on social platforms. You have to pay to play. Meaning you need to run social media ads in order to get your content seen.
- It’s so much better to have this done internally vs an outside company or person who has no direct connection to your company. Remember, this is “social media” and it’s much more effective if done internally.
One of the biggest misconceptions is that it “takes too long” - but what most people don’t realize is once your social media plan is in place and a post-process is developed, it takes seconds (literally) to run your social media internally. The key to this is building a content strategy.
A good public relations person can be an incredibly valuable asset to your business. Mainly because the content is so important, hiring a professional writer to generate that content and pitch it to the media can be very rewarding, but also very expensive. Like SEO, it should not be something you do yourself.
A big benefit in hiring a traditional public relations firm is tapping into their connections. Those connections include newspapers, magazines, blogs and more. With a limited budget, you should focus your resources on developing a content strategy that includes written content, video, audio, and images. If you focus on building this content internally, you become the authority.
Successful businessman Mark Cuban built his net worth through many business deals, including investments on “Shark Tank.” Mark Cuban has been vocal about businesses not wasting money on PR Firms. In 2012, Mark wrote a BLOG post titled, “Why Startups Shouldn’t Hire PR Firms” which explains his position on the subject.
As a small business, you struggle for time and money - two valuable assets. If you hire a PR firm, you’ll be waiting for them to provide you with content. This is not going to help your business directly.
If you were interested in this blog, watch out for the 3 marketing tactics you SHOULD invest in.