In an attempt to scare you into buying their service offering, many digital marketing sales persons will tell you that you need to develop and enhance your digital presence or….. DIE!…..or Get LEFT BEHIND! ……… While there is certainly no question to the efficacy of the internet and all the advantages that it offers, there are and will be plenty of space for brick and mortar or service-based, local businesses to survive and thrive without a robust online presence and elaborate marketing automation systems for years to come.
People will still buy and shop services from people who they know or were referred to and/or are conveniently located.
While those of us who have been able to witness the evolution from pre-internet up to the present can acknowledge the accelerated pace that technology has taken, I will confidently declare that things are moving fast, but not that fast. Beyond your online directory listing, especially Google My Business, a local business may not find much of a return on heavily investing time into anything much more than a simple 3-5 page website that can be done in a setting or two by someone with average technical skills.
Other things that digital marketing agencies will sell you on is services like email marketing automation, sales funnels and social media marketing. Again, these are viable platforms and systems that can contribute to growth by way of branding and lead generation. However, for a number of local based businesses, these investments of resources usually do best from a farming approach as opposed to a hunting approach.
Not to insult your intelligence reader, but if that previous reference didn’t land, I’ll explain quickly that from my experience, a digital marketing strategy and online presence should be approached like a farmer. That means planting seeds and not expecting a harvest immediately. However, many sales persons will pitch to you with a hunter’s approach in mind, trying to convince you that whatever strategy or platform they are extolling will bring food directly from the field to the kitchen in almost an instant.
To further expand, you may see businesses begin a blitzkrieg of advertising online, making all kinds of offers and to their credit, they may be putting out massive amounts of useful content in a relatively short amount of time. Usually this is the result of a substantial investment in time and/or money. Attention and leads will most likely be the result of these efforts but If the business has a hunters mentality, their expectations may fall short when all the attention and lead traffic fails to convert to actual bottom line profits. With a farmer’s mentality, the business can focus on systematically and incrementally building their online marketing systems over time which requires much less of an investment and usually means that it can be proficiently accomplished in-house if you so choose.
So my point in saying all of that is simply to encourage local based businesses to not feel pressured to shift their focus into investing a ton into all of the internet strategies that are available and are being sold to you.
Will you be leaving some money on the table by not having a sales funnel, complete with lead magnets, email automation, webinars and a constant stream of social media posts? Sure…. Probably. But consider these thoughts:
What are you really trying to accomplish with your online presence? Be careful to consider whether or not the reason you feel the need to increase your digital marketing has to do with copying another business that it appears to be working for. Modeling the success of others can help achieve meaningful results. It is also important to examine your particular and unique situation and make prudent decisions based on that.
Are you poised, staffed and/or systematized for an increased uptick in inquiries?
What is the opportunity cost of these focused efforts?
Would you be better served by utilizing more offline strategies like networking and strengthening relationships in order to drum up referrals which is the holy grail of business…the gift that keeps on giving….the golden egg goose.
Are you and your business going to get left behind? I can’t say definitively but what I will say is that if your local business fails (hopefully not), not having a robust digital marketing system will likely only be but part of the reason for that fate. Again, things are moving fast but not that fast and for now local, brick and mortar and service based businesses can still grow exponentially the”old fashioned” way by providing a valuable service and building relationships while incrementally introducing more digital marketing tools and strategies.