With so many customers now exclusively shopping online, many business owners are trying to figure out how to take those customers from behind the computer, into the store. Joining ASBN today is digital marketing consultant, Shane Barker. Shane has been featured in Forbes and Entrepreneur Magazine for his impressive digital marketing strategy, and is also a regular contributor for Sales Force Marketing Profs and Yahoo Small Business. Welcome to ASBN, Shane.
Shane Barker: Hey, thanks for having me.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Can you tell us why having a digital marketing presence is so important for a business today?
Shane Barker: Yeah, it really is one of those things that’s essential. There’s a lot of companies out there who try to ignore being in the digital space and it’s something that if you’re not there, your competitors are definitely going to be there. Some of the benefits to it is obviously, it levels the playing field. You have some of these bigger companies, if you’re a mom and pop company, and you’re trying to go up against the big players that have huge budgets, it’s nice to be able to level that playing field. Having some kind of presence online and being able to talk to potential customers on there is going to be a huge benefit. Also there’s the potential of generating more revenue as well. And it also validates your business, it’s nice to be able to have a voice online. Especially if people are writing good things or bad things, it’s important to be able to have your voice there.
Another benefit to it is that it’s also hyper-personalized, right? You have an opportunity. I mean think about if, I’m in a store and we have an associate that you’d like to think that when I walk into that store, that associate’s saying, “Hey, how you doing?” And it’s the same thing online. If somebody’s talking to your business online and you’re not there to figure out what they need. Then that’s a big issue, right? Because they’re going to be looking for somebody else that has better customer service or somebody else that has a digital presence that will be able to respond to maybe potential customer service issues or general questions or something like that.
And the online atmosphere, it can change very quickly. It can either be super awesome and great for your business, or you can have a PR nightmare and something happened. If you’re not in control and knowing what’s going on, and controlling those profiles, then there’s a potential of somebody else that is.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Is it even important to do the traditional means of advertising, such as TV, radio, direct mail and billboards? Or should it all be in digital?
Shane Barker: Yeah, I think it’s good to have a marketing mix. Really depends on your product and service. For us, we do a lot of digital stuff like content creation because the content online will always be there. You’re doing a flyer or something like that, once that flyer is done, it’s over. Like I said, I don’t think there’s bad things with billboards and stuff like that, but the issue is, what is your ROI on a billboard? Usually those are going to be the bigger players, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, people that are just are – listen, they can hit a consumer from 10 different angles and a billboard is just one of those things. If you’re a smaller size, even a medium sized business, what is the ROI of a billboard? It becomes a little more difficult to see what your return is on that.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Wouldn’t you recommend then that everyone … If you’ve got a budget of $5,000 or $10,000 a month and every single marketing dollar counts, why even chance it on traditional? Shouldn’t it just be put in digital to get those buyers when they start out?
Shane Barker: Yeah, I would think so. I think it’s more of a long term play and it’s a better investment when you invest your money there. Once again, I would hate to say, “Don’t do any traditional,” but online is really the future. Everybody’s on their phone for who knows how many hours on a daily basis. So that’s really where we want to be.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Is the ultimate goal for all businesses to come up on Google page one organically, versus having to buy that spot?
Shane Barker: Absolutely, yeah. That is the pinnacle. The idea is that usually what we have is there’s two different ways that you can do this. You have PPC, which are going to be number one overnight, right? Because the idea of that is that you use a page spot. Depending how competitive those keywords are. My agency has background in SEO, I’ve been doing SEO before it was even called SEO. We’re good in regards to those types of things. But you have one of the hardest parts about doing that is that you have some big players out there. In real estate, you’ have these attorney firms, they’ve got some really big, huge, huge budgets. You have to be creative if you have a smaller budget. How are you going to be able to maneuver? How are you going to be able to drive that same traffic? Organic is something to take a look at, but it’s also creating content and the distribution of that content in certain channels, in certain networks. So you can drive that traffic.
Jim Fitzpatrick: So, if people want to get ahold of you to talk to you more about your business, do you work with companies throughout the United States?
Shane Barker: I do. I also do speaking stuff, all kinds of fun. I actually was just in Sri Lanka, doing a keynote in Columbo. I’m actually over the place, but back in the States now. You can get ahold of me at Shane@ShaneBarker.com. That’s my direct email. Then you can go to ShaneBarker.com as well.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Well Shane Barker, thank you so much for your time today on ASBN. We appreciate it. I know that our viewers and business owners will get a lot out of today’s discussion. Hopefully we can have you back on and you can share some other ideas with us.
Shane Barker: Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me.
ASBN, Atlanta Small Business Network, part of JBF Business Media.