You’ve seen the stories, “Build Your Business with No-Cost Marketing.” This headline has been used many times, most recently when talking about social media.
We want such things to be true. Yet, we also know the reality – there is a cost to everything. It may not be a cost in dollars, but instead, it may be a cost of time.
So as you plan your small-business marketing budget, it is important to plan not only the dollars a marketing effort will take but also the time you will have to put into the project. Ask yourself, which resource is at a premium?
Most small business owners will quickly reply that they have less money than time. But is that really the case? Take for example, these common arguments; first, social media marketing doesn’t take dollars, just time and, second, everyone can do it.
Time spent occurs in many different ways. They include:
- The learning curve – To use any tool, you first have to learn something about it. Then you learn the basics and, to get the most out of it, you have to learn some of the tricks and tips.
- Building and maintenance – I don’t know how many people have commented to me that while building a social media effort was hard, the maintenance of it is were far more time is spent.
- Platforms change – No only does the best marketing tool get replaced by something else, but internal changes within a tool are constantly being made. Thus to get the most out of one, you need to keep learning, tweaking, and changing.
- Time wasted – Social media, if you don’t monitor yourself closely, can eat up enormous amounts of time. You start out doing one thing and find yourself spending extra time checking out more leads and ideas. And it’s addicting, we don’t turn it off. An ag-business owner I know once wrote on how he wanted to check the weather. Two hours later, after also doing the news and sports, he found himself immersed in movie reviews and videos. Be careful!!
- Is it your thing? Each of us have skills and talents and know what comes easy and what we struggle with. What someone else can learn and do in a day might be a week of misery for us to follow.
Everything I have written may have you feeling as though I am arguing against having an online presence. Nothing can be further from the truth. I am a full believer in the need of a small-business to be present online. This blog is only designed to: (1) make you question whether or not your presence should be a do-it-yourself effort; and (2) determine the size of your effort. You don’t need to be in all places.
So as noted in the beginning, plan your marketing campaigns, plan your dollars and plan your time. Know what your time is worth and how you should best spend it. Investigate where you can reach your audience. Learn what they want from the dollars they spend. Understand the emotional ties they have to your products and services.
So forget the hype but hold on to the ideas. Marketing, including social media, is key to building your business.
- About the Author
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Glenn Muske is an independent expert on rural small business, working as GM Consulting – Your partner in achieving small business success. He provides consulting, and writes articles for county extension agents and newspapers across North Dakota. Previously, he was the Rural and Agribusiness Enterprise Development Specialist at the North Dakota State University Extension Service – Center for Community Vitality.