Find out how you can market your business better in Charlotte.
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AB: Andrew Bowen JW: Jim Weiland
AB – Welcome back, entrepreneurs. Thanks again for tuning into another episode of CBR’s B2U podcast, bringing business directly to you. Presented by CBRbiz.com.
Today we’re picking up where we left off with Jim Weiland from SCORE. Remember: this is the second part of a four-part conversation, so be sure to visit CBRbiz.com to find Part 1. Welcome back, Jim; thank you for being here.
How’s your day going with this wonderful Charlotte spring weather?
JW – This is why we all live in North Carolina. It’s going great; I’m glad to be back, and I’m looking forward to chatting with our listeners.
AB – Today we want to talk about marketing. How can a business market their business better? Because I know that some people do a fantastic job and spend a lot of money, and some people don’t do a whole lot, or even spend a whole lot, but still do a really great job. Can you talk a little bit about what you see at SCORE?
JW – Yes, it’s a very common discussion point. What we find with most of the startups when they come in is that they have a concept of a website, and they are struggling with What do I do? and How do I do it?
The first place we start marketing is the website. Now, why do we do that? In today’s world, 80-90% of people buying something are going to look at the website of where they are going.
I went to a restaurant over the weekend. I went on their website to see what their menu was. You just do it, right?
They need to have an effective website. We can help them with some concepts and ideas that need to go into the website, but it’s their role that they need because they know the content of what they want to tell their client. We typically will spend time with them reviewing the content and making sure that the website is mobile friendly.
It’s very important in today’s world that, if you’re going to have a website, it’s going to be mobile friendly. Most people today are carrying around a smartphone of some kind, and websites that don’t present well on a mobile phone are no help to you.
AB – Absolutely not; I’ve been in the same boat. But here’s my thought. I have seen some businesses use social media sites, such as Facebook for example, in lieu of having an actual site. They just have a Facebook page that really kind of acts as a one-stop shop of all the information there. Can you kind of talk about the pros and cons about one versus the other?
JW – This reminds me–this will age me–the VCR v.s. whatever the other name was when they first came out war over which one it was going to be.
AB – It was the Betamax
JW – Yeah, that’s what it was. That’s right. Anyway. The answer is you still need a website. I know people are taking the easy way, and we work with our clients on this; you have got to have a home base in our opinion if you’re going to be considered a viable sustainable place that I want to visit.
Now you can use it for a lot of different reasons. It doesn’t have to be where you conduct your marketing on. In fact, it isn’t the world’s best marketing tool. What social media has brought–whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest–they are all providing a place for you to present your product to the client you want to present it to.
By the way, it is our belief…and I am not the social media expert in our chapter; we have a number that are and that are in the social media marketing world in their businesses…they will tell you that, depending upon the client that you are after–so you have to know who your client is–different social media will be more user friendly to that client.
So, for instance, if you’re trying to sell Jim Weiland a new car, I’m not going to want to go on Facebook. It’s just not going to give you the kind of detail you are looking for. On the other hand, if you’re a young family, and you are looking for furniture for your first child that’s coming, you are going to want to search a number of different social medias looking for what you want, either for the bargain or for the quality, safety, etc. So you have to understand what you are trying to sell to the prospective client.
Does that help?
AB – Absolutely. Like you said, there are pros and cons to each and, of course, special markets, like a car. It makes perfect sense that Facebook isn’t the perfect place to go where you can put all of your information and present it the way you want to present it as a business owner.
JW – Correct.
AB – That’s the benefit of having your own website.
JW – Let me make an interesting observation. I was at a conference last week on Main Street here in NC, on the revitalization of Main Street. There was a presentation that was given, and it struck home. The presentation said just because you’re using social media, don’t think it’s going to do anything differently than the tools we used 40 years ago.
Let me tell you what that means.
40 years ago you would do a flyer, do an email–well, not a email…heavens no–you would do a mailing, etc., then you would have to follow up with your clients, and then you would have to have a face-to-face discussion. The point of this presenter to Main Street businesses was you still have to do face-to-face marketing. In the end, that may be well-represented, so if you’re buying something, you go into Google you know what you want. But if you’re trying to sell something that’s unique, they are going to want to know the quality of the person selling it, and that’s done through face-to-face marketing.
Where I am going with this is? Social media makes it easier for you to broaden the scope of your marketing effort. It does not ensure success. It broadens the scope, so instead of sending out 100 mailers, you’re hitting 100k people. You’re going to get more hits, therefore it should improve your business, but the percentage of success, interestingly enough, the statistics tell you it doesn’t make any difference what marketing efforts you use. 1-2% of the people that see your marketing effort will end up buying from you. That’s an interesting statistic, and it hasn’t changed in years.
AB – That’s fascinating. 1-2%.
JW – 1-2%.
AB – So that kind of brings it back to the business plan and the research. I’m sure marketing falls somewhere in the business plan concept, but really good research and market segmentation can really help guide marketing regardless of whatever platform is being used.
JW – Absolutely. One of the three keys of having a successful business from my perspective is how well do you know who your client set is? Have you done the research? And we talked about it earlier–about doing primary and secondary research–but I’ll give you an example.
I have a client who wants to open a high-end restaurant, who didn’t do the demographics. So when we did do the demographics, and we did the circles, and determined where the people were, and the median income and so forth…what he discovered was he didn’t have enough clients to sustain the restaurant. They just were not going to be able to afford $60-$70 meals on a frequent enough basis. He had to either adjust his restaurant view, which is what he did, or he had to decide to find another place to try and generate that kind of sustainable revenue.
AB – Wow, I’m glad you brought demographics and research up, because this is where I get to plug my own project, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Quality of Life Explorer–an online interactive dashboard where folks can actually pull more than 80 variables of information for any neighborhood in Charlotte-Mecklenburg county. I just had to put that in there since you started talking demographics and research. It’s a wonderful one-stop shop for grant writing. That’s the one sentence version.
JW – Excellent, because we get people who are 501c3, and not for profit, and they’re often looking for how to do grant writing and where to go. So that would be very helpful. The last comment I’d make, though, to our listeners is get help selecting your sites, and don’t spend a lot of money trying to do that. You don’t need a lot of money to do that. But you do need help. As I said earlier, it depends on what you’re trying to sell which site to use. Facebook isn’t the end-all, Twitter isn’t the end-all, none of them are, so you need to know the ones you need to be in. Maybe it’s not all 5 or 6, 8, or 9…I forget how many we’re up to now.
AB – Thank you, Jim; our time is up today. We can’t thank you enough for being here with our listeners. Listeners, if you want to learn more about starting and funding your own business, visit CBRbiz.com, or follow us on twitter @CBRbiz. Stay tuned for the third part of our conversation with Jim, where we will be talking tips for increasing sales. Thanks again for tuning into CBR’s B2U podcast, bringing business directly to you. Until next time, we mean business.