I did a presentation last week for the West Broadway BIA
here in Vancouver, BC with 5 internet tips for brick and mortar retailers to help them grow their business. One of the questions that came up, as it always does is, "where does the time come from?". While this was raised specifically about social media, it pretty much applies to all of the more interactive marketing that seems to be a requirement of succeeding in the connected market place.
I believe my response was something along the lines of a mumble and shrug. It might have been shrug and mumble but I can't be sure.
The BIA (Business Improvement Area) represents merchants in a specific geographic area and in this case, most are independent, owner operators. A bagel shop, a bike store, a boutique. They don't have a lot of staff and they are likely already over worked. For many of them, traditional advertising channels work because it is "set and forget". Check a box on the ad approval and off it goes. Put a sign in the window and passers by will see it and come in. Web advertising and marketing is increasingly complex and time consuming. Who has time to maintain & monitor social conversations and PPC ads? Let alone do blog posts or send a newsletter every month!
I hear you! It does take time which has to come from somewhere in our busy days. Here are some ideas that might help.
- Do one thing well. You don't have to be everywhere on Social Media so pick something that works for you and do it well. Facebook is the 800 lb gorilla so start there if you are B2C.
- Don't worry about being original or relevant or pithy or even good. Share things you like, find interesting or that make you laugh. People see so much that if you are a bit off base it will scroll off their social feed quickly or they will just scan over it. No one hits every pitch out of the park. You will learn what gets the engagement and the results you want.
- Use scheduling. Carve out a couple of hours a week and plan out a bunch of posts, schedule them and move on with your week. This is hit and miss for me as I have to be in the right (caffeinated) frame of mind and frequently out of the office. I blog on "me" time.
- Delegate. You don't have to do it yourself and maybe you really shouldn't. If you are not front line or if you have millenials on staff that you trust, delegate social to one of them. Set a time limit on how much of their day you want them to invest and what the parameters are. Do a check in once a week to see what the plan is and what the results have been. You might even have several people with ideas. Get them to feed them to you.
- Contract out. This is not set and forget and you will have to educate your contractor on your business, brand, and goals so that their posts are authentic and effective. This takes regular planning meetings and monitoring and it will take a while to build trust. Basically you are hiring a specialized staff member and think about how much time it takes to train them up and the ongoing supervision. It is less time than doing it yourself and they will do a better job, but they still need your leadership.
The reality is that lack of social media or a sophisticated web strategy is unlikely to cause any business to fail in the same way that a great social strategy is not going to be the only reason your business flourishes. There are a complex array of factors all business owners have to deal with and your clicks and bricks strategy is just one of the building blocks of growth.