Tradigital = Traditional + Digital
The digital world is here to stay, but online advertising and social media are only additional tools in your marketing toolbox. Deals are still closed offline. If you run a small business, then you must entertain a combination of traditional and digital marketing efforts. Combining the two is called “tradigital marketing.”
The benefit of being active online is that you will raise the profile on your services. You will also differentiate yourself from your competitor (who may not be putting forth the effort). Online is where you can impress and initiate relationships. And, you’ll get “search engine juice”; I know it’s not a technical term, but you get the idea: your website will be rewarded with organically ranking higher in search engine results pages because you actively provide content, interact online and consistently invite readers to visit your website.
Each of the social media platforms would have you believe that having a presence on it will solve all your marketing woes. Or you may have been told that running a pay-per-click campaign will bring you many new clients. Neither is probably realistic, because that is not how your clients come to you. Rather, social media is one tool in your toolbox and your social media activities provide opportunity for dialog and allow you to leverage your time. Ultimately, however, it is the one-on-one conversation, the interpersonal contact and the necessary chemistry that will seal the deal.
How then do you effectively combine the traditional with the digital way of building relationships? Here are some simple steps to forming a useful and sustainable plan:
Find out more about your clients.
Talk to your current clients. Determine some basic demographics. Ask how they found you. Ask how they consume media (both traditional and digital). Why did they come to you, not your competitor? How has your service made their lives better? What is it that they appreciate about you and your service? What is of interest to them? The answers to these and other questions will inform how you shape your messaging, the type of content that will engage them, and where and when to publish it.
Be active where they are.
Set up a profile and/or page for your business on ONE social media platform where your clients hang out. Choose just ONE, but do it well. Be sure to complete all components of your profile and page. Follow influencers and connect with others. Join groups or circles. Start posting content, original and curated. Make it interesting: useful, timely, relevant and entertaining. Use the same language your clients are using. Connect with them, follow what they are doing, “like”, comment and share. Be sure to thank those that do the same for you. Be active in the groups you join. Done well and consistently, all these activities will create interest in you and your business, grow your audience, and will keep you top-of-mind.
This may be stating the obvious, but incorporating your social media icons in all of your print materials is a must. Be sure to have your online presences as part of your e-mail signature block. Make it easy for people to find and connect with you. Ask folks to “like”, share, recommend or otherwise boost, your postings online. Don’t be bashful about sharing offline accomplishments, events, etc. with your online connections. Offer something of interest on your website (e.g., “5 things you need to know about [your service] so you can [benefit]”); share its availability in your conversations. This will invite your offline contact to come to your website. It also offer an opportunity for you to collect e-mail addresses so you can communicate with your very own audience whenever you want.
Create dialog and take it offline.
When you get feedback, reply back. Reward comments with “likes”. Check out the analytic information that is provided for business pages and find opportunities that present themselves to directly engage a potential lead: first online and, if it is a natural progression, take the conversation offline: pick up the phone and extend an invitation for coffee and a conversation. That’s where you can further the discussion and convert the now-prospect into a client.
Everything takes time, and probably more time than you would like. People are busy and they are also inundated with messages from all directions. Your online presence creates familiarity; your interactions with your online community grow your likability. Your consistency engenders trust. Trust is necessary for people to engage with you.
Small business service providers can easily fall prey to thinking that social media or online advertising offers a panacea to their marketing challenges. And that is just not the case. In the real world people still do business with whom they know, like, and trust. The online world offers you the opportunity to make a strong first impressions and build a relationship with your audience. Prospects are turned into clients offline.