Can a business survive and prosper in today’s marketing environment without being active with their email marketing campaigns, social media platforms, blogs, SEO, and remarketing ad campaigns?
Conventional wisdom from most marketers today says “Sure, you can shun all of those things, but you won’t survive. You won’t grow. Because this is how people are finding and engaging now”
“ conventional — what is generally done or believed”
Contrary to conventional wisdom, it is quite possible that you don’t need to be doing these things. You don’t need to be spending hours a week being an active marketer… and instead, what if you took that same time and effort and invested it in your existing customers and clients?
An example: a pilates studio in western Massachusetts
There’s this boutique pilates studio in an old mill building in a small town. There are other pilates studios in the area, as well as gyms that offer pilates, yoga studios, etc. But this studio, now in their 7th year, has been profitable since year one, growing constantly at their own pace, and continually has a wait list.
They didn’t write blog articles such as “23 reasons why you should be doing pilates!” (common content marketing tactic). They didn’t focus on posting 5–10 times a day to their Facebook page to grow their Facebook following (only 300 followers, but a common social media marketing tactic). Their newsletter only goes to existing students, they don’t push people to sign up let alone through popup windows (common inbound marketer tactic). And they didn’t engage in keyword stuffing, directory backlinks or paid links.
So how do they grow and market their business?
They accomplish this by doing two things very, very well. They love their students, and their students love them in return. And they translate that love into community and “influencer marketing” which drives referrals, high search rankings, and new student conversions, while keeping their existing students happy and returning.
Your time and your money is fixed; we only have so much time in the day to dedicate to our work and only so much budget to accomplish what we need done. How are you going to spend your time and your money, where is it best invested? Every hour and every dollar that you spend on getting new customers is an hour or dollar that you’re not spending on your existing clients and customers.
The best situation is the one where investing in your existing clientele is what generates new business.
Happy customers (and their experiences) do the talking
Happy customers leave detailed and glowing reviews. Happy customers vote for you in “best of” polls. Happy customers enable your business to grow in an organic way, not based on illusory sales and gimmicks, but on a rewarding value proposition. Happy customers keep coming back.
Modern SEO increasingly factors these relationships and context into search algorithms. Google utilizes personalization to give you tailored search results that draw on your existing Contacts (did my best friend leave a 5-star review?). Google also indexes the reviews that people have left, discussing things that might not even be mentioned on your website, and shows them in the result set (help with chronic back pain? see this review of a pilates studio near you).
Modern social media marketing is increasingly over-saturated with marketing messages, leading many to become tone deaf to them, block them, or disconnect from social entirely. Facebook marketers are constantly lamenting the death of “organic reach”, having to instead resort to paid boosts of their content. But you know where the best leads are generated? From Groups where people ask for recommendations, from notifications in your feed when a friend likes a business or leaves a review, and other personalized interactions.
Modern content marketing has gradually transitioned from “best of” or “listicle” articles to included increased value content with personalization and utility, but it’s necessary to evaluate the Cost of this content creation. It’s not cheap. Then it’s necessary to factor in how much it costs to promote that content in order to reach the desired audiences. Again, lots of time, effort and cost… is it worth it for your business? Not always. But some of the best content is often the easiest to write: it’s case studies and success stories. And those stories originate from Happy Customers.
Come back to focusing on creating Happy Customers
Marketing consultants are going to sell/promote small businesses on these digital marketing solutions, and in many cases they’re going to cost more than they’ll ever generate in new business. And when you factor in the “The Jones’s” behavior of “if my competitors are doing it I probably need to be doing it”, suddenly everyone is wasting resources because of a mistaken belief.
But when someone posts: “hey, does anyone have any suggestions for a fitness studio?” or “hi guys, I’ve been suffering from back pain and my PT is done with me, what should I try now?”, guess what’s going to happen? Your happy customers/students are going to immediately chime into this conversation and recommend you. Your Influencers, because that’s what they are, will do your marketing for you in a way that goes beyond anything you could pay to do.
They are your Army of Advocates, and they’re your best marketing investment.