Having spent the last 13 years involved with web marketing I have seen, first hand, how things have progressed to the interconnected, social networking, multi channelled web we now see. The chances are that customers will come to find you via their iPhone from a recommend via a friend on Facebook as much as they would by typing a search into Google. These things didn’t even exist five years ago.
Small businesses have always used word of mouth as the best way of gaining new business and with the Facebook phenomenon this can be expanded to include the whole world.
For the last two years I have become increasingly convinced that the low cost, and sometimes free, online tools now available to anyone on the net can be leveraged and mixed together to provide a potent digital cocktail that would have cost hundreds of thousands of pounds to implement only five years ago. And if you had managed it, there was no-one else there to see it. Now with over 500 million people signed up to Facebook businesses of any size can’t ignore social networking as a cost effective way of getting their message across and selling more products or services.
The problem, as I see it, is that many small and medium sized businesses are run by busy, and to a large extent, older people who have not spent the last few years in awe of MySpace and Facebook and have thought of social networks as something for teenagers and people with nothing better to do. This has put them in a position out of the loop and it is a great example of them not knowing what they don’t know. Late arrivals to the party, they are now faced with a diverse and bewildering range of options and rather than engaging with it they try to bottle it up and wish it away. The trouble is that nagging away at the back of their minds they know that one day the new kid on the block will have grabbed their trade. It’s no longer a case of not expanding the business by ignoring the web, it’s a case of losing the business.
So this is where Love IT comes in. My idea is to help these SMEs to dip their toes into the pool of web opportunity. A plain brochure style website is of little use in today’s marketplace, so we will work closely with clients to leverage social networking, email marketing, ecommerce, blogs and whatever else it takes to put a custom solution together that actively promotes the business to targeted markets. For instance, most teenagers would have no problem sharing a vast photo album of their friends 18th birthday party and it would be distributed to computers, iPhones, blackberries et all within minutes. The same techniques can let those that need to know that you’ve got a great new product in stock now. Presentational style may be more sober, but the underlying methods are essentially the same. When my technophobic wife came home evangelising about this great app on her new iPhone I knew that its’ time had come, even in deepest darkest East Yorkshire.