A small business by the Small Business Association definition is a business concern that is independently owned and operated, organized for profit, and is not dominant in its field. Depending on the industry, the size and sales can vary upwards to 1500 employees and as much as $21 million dollars in annual sales.
The small business enterprise is under attack due to socio-economic trends directly connected to the evolution of the Internet. We have quickly evolved into an “on demand” society. Our lives are now filled with downloads and mobile applications for products like iPads and iPhones. This has unintentionally triggered a change in not only how we do business, but also in how we find new business by affecting our advertisement delivery methods.
The days of traditional “push” marketing opportunities, that is, placing advertisements in front of potential customers and hoping they will remember your product when in its time to buy, are dying. Newspapers and magazines (print advertisement) are on life support, rapidly being replaced by online versions. Broadcast venues, a longtime staple for commercials are in critical condition. Network television is under attack by the growth of premium cable channels and radio listening is being replaced by products like Pandora, iTunes and SirrusXM. Companies that are slow to adjust their delivery methods are seeing their brands approach extinction (Blockbusters, Borders etc.). A business cannot find customers in a place where the customer is absent or leaving, it is as pointless to put a billboard in the desert.
Newer “pull” marketing techniques that place advertisements in the forefront when customers are ready to buy is the developing trend. Marketing emphasis is now moving towards search marketing in support of rapid changing customer demand.
Search Marketing is often referred to as Online Marketing, Internet Marketing or Digital Marketing. It is a broad term that encompasses aspects of a complete online marketing strategy using the search engines as its focal point and includes aspects of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM). Search marketing goal is to successfully promote websites by increasing their visibility in search engine result pages.
Over 10 million online searches occur daily, which translates into thousands of opportunities every minute for product placement to an eager targeted customer. Small business such embrace the use of search marketing as a primary business tool for their marketing efforts. Consider that since the introduction of the first Internet browser in 1993, there has been over 20 million websites created, and now grows at a rate of almost 2 million new websites every year. Search marketing is the only tool available to make a website standout within the vast Internet clutter.
Additionally, since the Internet is a global, 24/7 venue, a strategy built around search marketing will provide an extra bonus since it’s the least expensive form of marketing in terms of audience ($3.65) per thousand reached when compared to other forms direct mail ($487), broadcast ($23-$140) and print( $64).
Lead generation and sales closings are being altered by rapid societal changes related to the use of the Internet. Historically, 47% of sales leads originate from traditional advertisement (print and broadcast) and 22% from cold calling. That will quickly change because not only is print and broadcast advertisement shrinking; the salesperson is heading for extinction. Recent Gartner research has projected that U.S sale jobs are decreasing from 18 million to 4 million by 2020. Statistically, that will create a huge opportunity for search marketing as the “new” cold call.
Small business survival is dependent on embracing the Internet and search marketing, it is well pass the product introduction stage, and is firmly sitting in the growth stage of the marketing product life cycle. A business can no longer ignore the search engines as the “guide” to finding products and services. A passive approach in regards to search marketing will have your business buried deep in the caverns of web information. Achieving “Top 10” status on a search engine result pages due to search marketing adaptation is paramount to online and offline (foot traffic) increasing sales by as much as 9% based on a recent comScore study
Every small business should have a comprehensive search marketing strategy considering that 99% of Internet searchers do not search beyond the Top 30 results and that 65% of online sales is generated from websites found in the Top 3 positions of search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing.
Search marketing is not only the key to small business survival but is also is the ultimate business “win-win” scenario since it’s the lowest cost, allows easy customer targeting, supports the newest “trends”, has the broadest reach and is always working. This is a trend whose time is here and should not to be ignored.
Allen Jordan is Managing Partner of The Farpoint Alliance, a “Digital Technology” boutique specializing in Search Marketing and Online Reputation Management. Allen enjoys working with entrepreneurs and small business owners to efficiently connect with their clientele via online marketing.