In the 15th Century, Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press. His creation of mechanical moveable type is regarded as the one of the most important events of the modern period. Gutenberg's invention played an integral role in many global events including the Scientific Revolution and delivering education to the masses.
September 15, 1997, Google.com domain was registered. By the following year, Google, Inc. was official, obliterating the Dewey Decimal System and making information universally available to all. Google Analytics and Google ADWords sprung forth and laid waste the future of legacy print ads and the hopes of static, web based banner ads. No longer did the large advertising agencies have exclusive access to meaningful demographics. Now, the small business owner can target their AD to a specific demographics, configuring the AD to target sex, age, country, city, and interest. Don Draper is dead. (And so is chain smoking and drinking in the offices.) All hail Google Analytics and ADWords.
In 2006, Facebook was born, propelling the democratization of mainstream media and making “social media” one of the most common terms in marketing. Newspapers, magazines, radio, and television no longer have the monopolistic hold on the distribution of information and opinions they once had. Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, personal blogs, and websites, along with a myriad of other channels managed by individuals and businesses, all have the power once only wielded by national publications and global media conglomerates. Recent developments are handing over even more leverage to small businesses as Facebook launches an Application for merchant sales through the media giant's pages. Power to the People,,,,and small business owners.
Today, it is not uncommon to hear about a celebrity who started out on YouTube, or a columnist who got their break through their own personal blog. Shakira (the singer) has over 88,000,000 Facebook fans. That's 88 MILLION. She is currently battling for the leading Facebook page with Rhianna, another female singer with just over 86,000,000.[*1] By the way, Rhianna beats out Shakira on YouTube, ranking #11 for total subscribers at 13,481,666, and 4,866,906,673 page views (*2) (THAT'S 4 BILLION+ page views) I wonder what Led Zeppelin would have garnered back in the day? I am not sure there were enough people in the world back in the 1970's to compete with Rhianna's numbers since there are approximately 3.1 billion more people today (with access to iTunes), than there were back in the 70's when it was vinyl and 8-track players and small mom and pop record stores. Anyone remember the big music chains Tower Records and Music Plus with poster racks full of Rat, Poison, Van Halen, and KISS?!
So how can a sole proprietor or small business take advantage of all these outlets to market and sell their products and services. When we meet with a potential client for the first time, we typically observe business owners not being able to see the forest through the trees. “Where do I start”, “I don't have time for this”, and “I don't get it,” are all standard responses to the terms Social Media, Content Strategy, In-bound Marketing, and Editorial Calendar.
To simplify, it's all about telling your story. The legacy mode of marketing was to pitch your product or service with a price. Today, successful marketing involves sharing your company's story and the users' experience of your products or services. Sharing this content is done in a blog post, picture, infographic, or a video which is then distributed through social media channels and websites. That's it. As we tell our clients, “Everything is a story”. Simply tell that story in an engaging way to draw readers and viewers in. Convert the viewer into a customer and if you deliver, that customer then becomes your newest online evangelist sharing information on your company throughout their own personal web pages, social media accounts, and online customer review sites. As we like to say, “Entertain – Inform – Engage”.
Of course, much of this is already known by the intermediate and advanced marketer. What's important to understand for the business owner wanting to start leveraging these mediums or desiring to do a better job at leveraging these mediums is that there must be a fundamental shift in how the business owner views themselves and their company in regards to marketing.
Remember this one rule to start. Let's say you sell “XYZ Service and Parts”. You do not SELL XYZ Services and Parts. You SHARE the stories of XYZ and the stories of your customers. Think of yourself, and your business, as a media production house producing short stories of your business successes.
We can think of two companies in Arizona that have done a fantastic job at “Becoming Media Moguls”. This first is John Stonecipher, President and CEO of Guidance Aviation of Prescott, Arizona. Stonecipher and his team “got it” (or already “had it”) when I said to them in late 2010, you've got to become Media Moguls. Guidance Aviation has one of the most robust and successful marketing programs in the aviation sector and in business overall. Stonecipher was recently awarded the United States Small Business Administration's 2013 Business Person of the Year. That's a big deal. Guidance Aviation maintains a dynamic website, robust blog, multiple social media channels, and a video marketing department that produces high quality, dynamic videos that convey extraordinarily enticing messages. This company is truly one of a kind when it comes to sharing its message and brand. The company's commitment to marketing as a forethought of successful business planning is resolute and clear. That commitment to excellence is conveyed to its customers, the students and collegiate partners. Guidance has a waiting list of students.
Another great example of a company leveraging the power of online media and content marketing to become a Media Mogul is Watters Garden Center, also in Prescott, Arizona. Their website is unique in that it is a website and blog rolled into one. It is packed with great graphics, very consistent and useful information, as well as video tutorials. Need to know what's the best way to plant a tree or shrub? It's right there in the video tutorials. Great content, great branding. It should be also mentioned the Watters has a news column and radio talk show. Substantial community involvement is obviously paying off for the Watters.
Yes, there's more, but for now, just start sharing your company's story through your Facebook page and blog. Remember to share your passion, not your pain. We'll get into SEO, Social Media best practices, In-bound marketing techniques, the importance of Email marketing, producing online events, website architecture, Google Adwords and Analytics, and so on, later. Remember, “Everything's A Story.”
Guidance Aviation: www.guidance.aero
Watters Garden Center: www.wattersgardencenter.com