I want to thank Facebook and Zuckerberg sincerely. I truly do. The blindsided vengeance of this past week has proven beyond doubt how dangerous it is for small businesses to rely on any marketing channel they do not fully own and control.
Many were Zuckerberg-ed into believing that Facebook loved them and would be a never-ending fountain of commercial wine and song.
This same ‘reliance on one’ mindset can be applied equally to LinkedIn, Instagram and other platforms reliance. It’s a dangerous place to sit.
Platforms can be flipped out from under the feet at any moment’s notice or change so drastically they are no longer viable.
Social media behemoths are not charities with Mother Teresa-like intentions despite the often duplicitous feigned care exteriors. They are money-making machines and do what is right for their profit spreadsheets and world domination egos.
Before social media
For decades now, I have championed the importance of a well-rounded marketing wheel. I come from a business time, believe it or not, when Google, Facebook, LinkedIn et al. were but imaginations in lunch boxes.
And even in those long dark ages, the marketing mix ethos was as relevant – don’t put all your marketing and media eggs into the one-pot.
Back in the 80s, I was a sales manager at Yellow Pages. Was it the Facebook and LinkedIn of that time? In some ways, yes, it was, as many sectors put all their marketing activity into one channel. Some such as florists were indebted to the juice of the yearly black and yellow doorstop delivery.
I used to think I would go to my grave, bleeding yellow and black ink. Then the digital revolution and Google changed the world. More on that another time with the precept of known and unknown markets to capture.
Before mobile technology, a range of other marketing and advertising channels bolstered visibility and influence. The marketing wheel was still essential but differently in volume and spokes to 2021.
I’m not here to debate the issues at hand on the proposed media laws and ramifications broadly. But what hasn’t changed is the need and respect for journalism and publishing. While delivery has shifted, it has always been about engaging and reaching target audiences where they congregate.
A well-rounded wheel
A well-rounded marketing wheel, albeit mix, is like a healthy diet comprising all necessary nutrients for optimum wellbeing. Whilst there are some clear delineated channels on social media that hold greater weight than others, mindfulness is critical.
The purpose of marketing in simple terms is to target, entice and convert. And for mature brands, there is an additional focus on holding market share.
Wherever small businesses invest time, money or resources, they must align with where their target market congregates. Gaining eyeballs (or ears) is a precise formula in theory, but not so simple in reality, as many small businesses grapple with choices, often under a cacophony of opinions and pressures. This, of course, also applies to the big end of town with high financial stakes at play.
Earned – Paid – Owned Elements
The marketing wheel comprises three elements earned – Paid – Owned. These can coincide sitting alongside each spoke. For example, there will be a mix of paid advertisements, sponsorships, journalist interviews, and content contributors on media sites. Similar to LinkedIn and other platforms.
All aim to raise brand equity and eyeballs for client acquisition and brand management. Bigger budgets take a lion’s slice from the paid circle, with small businesses mostly playing with owned and earned spokes.
The elements contain:
PR, news, media interviews and mentions, guest blogs, reviews, digital backlinks, social media shares, endorsements.
Digital media advertising, SEO, PPC, traditional advertising, influencer marketing, events, sponsorships.
Websites, Blogs, direct mail, email, SMS, apps. Social media, e-commerce sites,
NB: whilst you own your profiles on social media and LinkedIn, you don’t own the platform, and so social media fits around the spoke
It is essential to have a diverse marketing plan, including a mix of elements. Decisions start from understanding who your ideal prospects are and the nuances of their channel and consumption preferences.
A mistake many make is to blanket apportion their preferences onto their target markets. Research and analysis are critical. Don’t assume anything.
Develop a house insurance policy and self-reliance mindset. Expect change and have a marketing plan to protect against loss and accidents. Build strong confidence in assets you can control and drive engagement and visibility within a broader range.
The sledgehammer actions of Facebook has opened the eyes of many small businesses. And from that, a broader lesson in the reckoning to not rely on any single channel. The lesson learnt was challenging for some, but Australian small businesses are a resilient bunch. They will get on with doing things differently.
Again, thanks to Zuckerberg and Facebook. Truly!
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