Dear Mr. SMB – Internet Marketing Is Not Free

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I have recently been hearing a lot of grousing about the Internet and the services tied to it. It’s not the, “Well, my Internet connection was down so I’m ticked off” kind of talk, either. In a way, I wish it were.

No, it’s worse than that. It’s a continuing mantra that comes from the SMB (small and medium business) space about how they know they need to be more active in their Internet marketing efforts. Most get that concept and that’s a good start. What’s next is the part that will lead, however, to their eventual demise. You see, even though they know they should be more active online, there seems to be an extraordinarily high occurrence of the next statement coming from the SMB owner being, “But I don’t want to spend any money to get there. Isn’t there a way to do it for free?”

Well, if you are an Internet marketing service provider, you are looking for the exit at this point in the discussion. You are now in the SMB ‘brain drain’ trap that will try to keep you around long enough so that you will give them advice that they think they can act on themselves.

I see this happen in Chamber of Commerce environments where everyone wants to meet you and buy you a cup of coffee so you can talk all about your knowledge of the Internet, but when it comes to the reality of “these things cost money,” you can hear crickets during the stunned silence. SMBs attend every free event that gives them the most generic advice, but when it comes to the point of paying for a real service that will produce results, they run like mice when the lights go on.

I know the economy is bad. I know money is tight. Does that mean, however, that you don’t need to still spend money to make money? Here’s some advice for all Internet marketing service providers and those looking for their services. As we rapidly approach that time of year when SMBs need to decide if they will again throw good money at their Yellow Pages presence, there needs to be some serious thought applied to this traditional advertising play. SMBs will be assaulted by aggressive sales people and then be put into the spin cycle about how they can get the best of both the online and offline world with the Yellow Pages offerings. Must … resist … the …. Yellow …. Pages … sales ….. pitch.

Everyone needs to stop, listen, and truly think. I am going to suggest something truly revolutionary. It actually may not cost the SMB anything more than is currently spent for advertising to effectively do Internet marketing! I call this process the “Budget Theory”. Maybe as an SMB you have been buying YP ads for ages and it’s just something you do. Well, this year, why not take that dead marketing spend [unless you can truly say that you are experiencing a real ROI with that YP spend, in which case it's not dead, so keep doing it] and apply it where you know you need to be — on the Internet. That’s right; say no to your Yellow Pages rep and start to apply that money to the place you really want to be.

In upcoming posts, I will discuss where you can apply this ‘new found’ marketing money, but until the SMB owner / marketer decides that they need to spend money to make the Internet work for them, there’s nothing to truly discuss. Sound harsh? Sorry, it’s just the facts. If the truth hurts, then don’t look to change anything. You won’t notice the difference as you keep suffering with the rest of the crowd.

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2 Comments

  1. leb0wski

    Great article. I used to work for a SMB and you are spot on with their line of thinking regarding internet marketing vs YP spending.

  2. most SMB's think they can get something for nothing because - they are working on slim margins...