Lately, Google has been shutting down the Analytics keyword feature, a popular small business marketing tool, used to figure out which keywords drive traffic to a website. And this is not the first time such a thing happens. In 2012, Google’s Penguin algorithm massacred many a business by kicking them off of the first page of search. From time to time, Facebook changes its news feed or posting rules, toppling people’s Facebook marketing campaigns. Unless you want your business to go under each time, they change the rules, you need to protect your business from Google’s policy changes.
The world of marketing is so big and confusing that many small business owners prefer to concentrate on just one small, easy-to-understood part and run with it. They are encouraged by “experts,” who promote the particular marketing tool they are selling as the one-stop solution for all your client-related worries. Recently, I asked the owner of a snazzy Tel Aviv web agency, who specializes in driving traffic to clients’ websites how much of that traffic actually turns into paying clients. “That’s none of my business,” she said. “My job is to get the potential leads to the site. What they do with the traffic is their thing.”
So here is the danger: if your entire marketing strategy is built on one tool, what will you do once that tool stops working? The other day, I sat in a room with several colleagues and one person spoke of doing more SEO . “SEO is dead,” someone else chimed in. “Today it is all about Pay per Click.” For someone else it is all about Facebook Ads. Or LinkedIn data mining. Or advertising in a particular magazine. Or “social media” (whatever that means). But as long as you don’t own the platform or the tool, you have zero control over your marketing and by extension your business’s future. The platform (Google, Facebook, magazine) may one day shut down, change the rules, triple the price, or simply kick you out, leaving you stranded.
This is not a theoretical apocalypse. It’s a very real danger with names and faces and bank accounts. It has happened more than once and the survivors are all around us.
There is no insurance policy against changes to Google’s policy, but there is a solution. It is called diversification and it is the only way to protect your business. Stop putting all your marketing eggs in one basket. Stop relying on just one marketing tool. If you are serious about the running a stable and profitable business, you need to find several ways to attract clients. This way, if one strategy goes under, the others will keep you in the game.
Protect your business with diverse marketing strategy
- Don’t take a part for the whole – the most important thing to realize is that the various online platforms are just tools. Each one is right for a different job. And none of them will do the job alone. You can’t build a house with just a hammer and you can’t build a business with just a website. No matter how many people visit your website, like you Facebook page, or take your business card, if your product doesn’t match their needs, isn’t priced right, or isn’t different enough from the competition, it won’t make you money.
- Don’t believe the hype – ever notice how some women run after the latest fashions even if the trend is completely wrong for their image? Then, the year after the fashions change, and the same women run to get a new wardrobe? The same thing happens with marketing. Don’t get intimidated when someone rolls her eye at the preposterous thought that you don’t have a Facebook promo. There was a world before Google, and we will all continue to exist (somehow) once Facebook becomes passé. Social media will one day be eclipsed by something new and better. These are excellent tools for the time being, if you know how to use them, but you don’t HAVE to use EACH and EVERY ONE of them, especially if you don’t really understand them.
- Get the right mix – unwavering loyalty to one online (or offline) marketing tool can spell the death of your business. On the other hand, you don’t want to be all over the place. Choose 3-4 marketing activities, through which you will reach your clients and develop them consistently over time. I recommend that you use at least one online marketing channel and one which is offline. For a list of suggestions, download my free e-book 38 Ways to Reach Your Clients in Real Life and Online.
- Integrate – your online and offline marketing channels are not separate entities. They are part of the same system. For example, if you choose to meet your clients through networking (offline), you can put a QR code or a web address on your business card, where they can download a free information product or opt in into your mailing list (online). You can then continue keeping in touch with them through email updates (online) and invite them to a special event or a free phone consultation (offline). As the client gets to know and trust you, the distance between the two of you gets shorter, until you can make a sale.
So marketing is really pretty similar to everything else. Variety is the spice of life and the foundation of a stable and profitable business.
Have you ever been wracked by a change in your favorite marketing tool? Have you tried diversifying your marketing strategy? What steps have you taken to protect your business? Please share your stories.