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Can Your Local Business Grow Without Social Media Marketing?

local-business-growth-chartSocial Media is the most powerful way that businesses can market themselves online today.

It’s a new dawn for advertising and marketing. No longer does your business have to use one way communication tools such as posters, brochures or newspaper ads to reach your customers.

Instead you can interact with your customers where they like to hang out and socialise. Places like Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Flickr, etc.

By making use of methods such as blogging, pinning, tweeting, liking fanpages and other modern social media methods you can reach out to your customers and encourage them to engage with you on a whole new level. Building new business relationships through listening as well as talking to your customers and preselling your products or services will rapidly increase sales.

What Can Social Media Marketing Do For Your Business?

Imagine you’re really into photography and you’ve done a few courses and discovered through exhibiting your pictures at your local camera club and taking part in photography competitions that you have a real talent.

You decide that you want to make a career out of this creative talent and turn professional. You’ve just decided to take the major step and opening your own studio and starting a photography business.

So How Do You Go About It?

You spend a few hundred pounds putting large ads in the local papers telling people about your new business venture and getting a press release written. You also get some flyers printed announcing the opening of your photography studio and give them out in your local area. You’ve really put a lot of thought into your brand and which services you’ll be offering and really hope everything will work out OK.

It’s The Big Launch Day – What Happens Next?

The opening date for your studio finally arrives and a few of your friends and family pop round to see what it’s all about. A few members of the public pass by and drop in for a look around. You give out some business cards but nobody has really given any thought to having their family portrait done and take your card with the promise of having a think about it.

A week passes and you’ve managed to get a few clients, but not the big rush you were expecting after spending all that money on marketing and advertising. Things aren’t going well, what went wrong?

Let’s Start Again – This Time Launch With some BUZZ!

You’ve decided to start your own photography business and open a studio. You know exactly how you want to create your brand and what services you’re going to offer. You get a press release written and submit it to a few local papers and also send out some flyers around the neighborhood.

You also allocate some time and effort into creating a presence online with a website/blog and some social media marketing. The first thing you do is create an account with the major social media sites such as Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr and YouTube.

Around a month before your big opening, you start interacting and engaging with people through Facebook groups, searching for people interested in photography on Twitter, posting your photos to Flickr, creating boards and pinning your pictures on Pinterest and making slideshow videos for YouTube.

As you spend more time socializing and cross promoting on these big media networks you find potential customers and clients who want to know more about your photography skills.

As you want to create a huge BUZZ for your big opening, you decide to get your new friends interested by running a competition online. You persuade your new internet audience to upload the funniest photos they’ve ever taken to your Facebook Fanpage, Pinterest Boards or Flickr account and the best one will receive a free portrait session at your studio with a framed photo of their choice.

Before long people are uploading their funniest pics to your Flickr account, pinning them on Pinterest and sharing them on Facebook and Twitter with their friends telling them all about you and your brand. By the time your opening day comes around people have heard about you and are interested in finding out more about your photography services.

When you open for business you send out a digital coupon to your social networks offering them a 20% discount off any of your products or services for helping you get started. All those people you have been BUZZING to on your networks are pre-sold with your brand and ideas and want to come with their 20% off coupon to get a piece of the action.

Even after your launch event you continue to grow your brand online within your networks and people start telling their friends through word of mouth about your quality photography service. Every time you shoot a new portrait or photograph an exciting event you upload your shots to your social media networks and share them with your friends. You even run a photography competition once a month where you give away a free session at your studio.

Before you know it you’re booked up for the next six months and the reason is you took the time and effort to use social media marketing to grow your brand.

Gain Valuable Feedback Through Google Alert

A few months have gone by since you opened your photography studio and you’ve had plenty of customers wanting their family portraits and other types of photos taken. Business is going well and you think everyone is happy and raving about your services when you receive an email from the Google Alert you setup for your business name. (Good job you remembered is do this!)

Someone has been blogging about the bad experience they had at your photography studio. They weren’t happy with the lighting on their portrait photo. It made them look older than they really were.

Luckily for you, the Google alert has allowed you to be one of the first to hear about the bad publicity associated with your business name. This early warning has allowed you to start putting plans in place to rectify this negative publicity before it spreads and effects your business.

You visit the person’s blog and leave a comment saying you are the studio owner and some contact details so they can get in touch with you to talk about their bad experience.

After speaking to the blogger, you persuade them to try your studio one more time and offer them a complimentary photo session. This time making sure they are totally happy with the finished product before they leave.

A few days later you receive another Google Alert about your business name. This time the same blogger has written a follow up post about how good your customer service was and how happy he was with his new portrait photo.

Would you have been able to salvage this situation successfully without the help of social media?

Building Lasting Relationships With Your Customers

Social media is a powerful tool when it comes to building relationships and interacting with your customers.

As your business grows, so does your following in the various social media networks you’ve setup. People are starting to become emotionally involved and pre-sold with your ongoing interaction with them.

When they think about getting their portraits commissioned, they think of your studio. When their friends ask them if they know anyone who can produce great family portraits, they automatically think about your studio and recommend it to their friends.

What Does All This Mean?

More and more people are talking positively about your brand. Customers become repeat customers and start referring you to their friends who in turn become customers and refer your services to their friends.

Your business is like a snowball rolling down the hill growing bigger and bigger and gathering great momentum. Your business has become a complete success due to the power of social media.

3 Comments
  1. Hey Mark,

    That’s a fabulous plan and although I don’t have a local offline business I do believe that getting attention through social media is really the only way to go.

    Just as you mentioned here, lead up to the launch and give them a reason to stop by. Always offer coupons or have someone win something and that will entice people into what you have to offer.

    This is a great plan for any type of business and I would hope that more offline businesses are finally understanding why social media is the place to be.

    ~Adrienne

    • Thanks for dropping by Adrienne. I only recently discovered your blog through Dan Sumner’s blog and I’m glad I did because it’s packed full of really useful content.

      You really are the “Engagement Superstar” because I’m hooked already. Looking forward to following your posts.

  2. Social media was created to avoid the very same marketing from businesses that you propose people do. Has the public forgotten why they’re using social media? I know I haven’t and are quick to unfriend and block people who cause businesses to litter my timeline. No disrespect intended but I just don’t see how doing this will ever work. It’s still a form of spamming.

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