Let’s face it. In many ways, San Antonio is not the poster-child for trendy, techy, online-savvy cities. Many businesses still run ads in the actual Yellow Pages here in San Antonio and the “good ol’ boy” network is still in full effect.
That being said, the struggle for me as a San Antonio Digital Marketing specialist is often not in providing a value proposition that is more advantageous than a competitor, but often just to convince them that online marketing is a valuable and worthwhile investment of their marketing budget.
One of the most common responses that I get when I reach out to a business about helping with their online presence is a retort that goes something like this: “Yeah, I don’t need that. I’ve got a website. I’m good.”
A Website is Like a Billboard
The problem for many business owners is that they can’t wrap their old-school mentality around a new-school marketing medium. One of the best ways to help overcome this is to put digital marketing terms in ways that translate to traditional marketing.
In essence: your website is like a billboard.
It functions in mainly the same ways – people find it, get information about your service or product, and contact you from it if they’re interested. Sure, sure, there’s more detail and content that goes into a website (usually), but the concept is largely the same.
Like a billboard, websites are all about placement. You can have the world’s greatest billboard with awesome images and content, but if it’s in the middle of a random cornfield miles from a highway, you’re probably not going to get much business from it. Websites are exactly the same concept.
Digital Marketing Drives Traffic
Keeping with the billboard analogy, in order to establish a real online presence, you need to do some digital marketing to help drive traffic by that billboard. There’s obviously tons of different ways to do it and to determine what size highway you’re sending past your roadside billboard, but for the most part, doing any local online marketing will be better than doing none at all.
Backing your website up with SEO, Pay-Per-Click, Social Media Marketing and solid Review Marketing helps make sure you’re placing your billboard in a high-traffic area with a major highway. It gives your billboard prime placement and helps send more customers your way.
Refusing to address the need to send traffic to a website is essentially like leaving your beautiful, expensive billboard sitting out in a pasture where only the people who already know that it’s there have any knowledge of its existence.
Customers Are Fragmented
If you’ve noticed, we live in an extremely fragmented world where there’s niche for just about any interest. Thirty years ago, most major cities had a handful of TV stations, a few radio stations, one (or maybe two) local newspapers and maybe a handful of local community/interest magazines.
Fast forward to 2016 and there’s literally a station, news outlet, special interest magazine, social media group and even shopping option for any type of interest. Gone are the days where 90% of a community’s population were all tuned in to the same media outlets. That makes marketing in a broad spectrum (TV, radio, newspapers, etc.) a very risky proposition because the customer base is so spread out.
Now, go back to the billboard analogy. The best benefit of digital marketing is that it allows you to put your billboard directly in front of customers who are specifically interested in your product. Rather than trying to reach the masses – putting a billboard on a highway and marketing a product to anyone and everyone – digital marketing allows the business to find the roadway that has customers who are interested in their services and place their sign directly in front of them.
Even further, this hyper-segmentation of the customer base extends to how customers find businesses online. Some like to use Google and find the top result in the Maps Section. Others prefer to look up reviews on sites like Yelp or Angie’s List to validate a business before calling. Some click on the Pay-Per-Click section to find the first available option. There’s no one hard and fast rule to how customers find your site, so imagining that you can just have a site exist online and have it found by the majority of your customers is ridiculously naïve.
These points alone make digital marketing one of the most valuable marketing options, but sometimes my prospective clients still need a little extra push. That’s when I move on to the next point.
Your Competitors Are Building, Too
Finally, one of the best ways to explain this analogy to the multitude of business owners that still may not understand the importance of digital marketing is to liken it to something they’ve been aware of for years.
Business is all about competition.
Whether you’re an HVAC contractor, an SEO specialist or a dog-sitter, your business has competition. There are a finite amount of jobs, contracts and customers for you to reach, and you are competing for those on a daily basis. The businesses that succeed in generating a consistent stream of business are the ones that stick around for decades; those that don’t close up shop.
That’s why digital marketing is so important in 2016 and why a website alone simply isn’t enough. You’re not Kevin Costner and this isn’t Field of Dreams. You can’t just build it and expect your customers to come flocking to you. You have to place your website in front of customers in the ways that they’re most likely to interact with it and become clients. That’s where a company like Citywide SEO can help you create a sound digital strategy that encompasses all the facets your business needs to thrive.
Bottom line: whether you believe in digital marketing or not, your competition does, and they’re putting up a nice, shiny billboard on the highway in front of the clients you want.