By John Eberhard
In my last article I discussed what I called the ideal scene or ideal situation for a marketing vehicle:
- Any business could use it and get benefit. The benefit is not restricted to a limited number of businesses in any given area.
- Gets leads or sales for business
- Pay more if you want higher level service
- Has eyeballs of people looking for that product or service
- Rules on how to use the platform are clear, not hidden
- People controlling platform want businesses to succeed
I discussed how a lot of the marketing vehicles or platforms today do not measure up well against this ideal scene, especially big tech platforms. I especially discussed Google Ads, Google My Business, and Google organic, and how they all come up short.
In this article I’m going to discuss some of the other marketing platforms and compare how they measure up to the ideal scene.
- Any business could get benefit: This is still pretty much true for Facebook
- Affordable: More affordable than Google Ads
- Gets leads or sales: Yep
- Pay more if you want higher level service: You can have a larger budget and your ads will run more
- Has eyeballs of people: Yep
- Rules are clear, not hidden: Pretty much
- People controlling platform want businesses to succeed: The apparency is they want you to succeed
So Facebook is a pretty good medium right now, especially for B2C (business to consumer) campaigns and products. One general point of concern however, is blatant political censorship.
- Any business could get benefit: Yes
- Affordable: Yes
- Gets leads or sales: Yes
- Pay more if you want higher level service: Yes
- Has eyeballs of people: This is the problem with email, in that today we have what are called “open rates,” which is the percentage of people who receive the email who actually open it and potentially see it. Today for an “in-House” list, meaning a list of your customers and prospects, open rates vary between 10% and 30%. That means the majority of people on your in-house list are not going to see it. For cold email lists, open rates are 1-5%.
- Rules are clear, not hidden: Rules are pretty clear, although many email service providers today are trying to enter new arbitrary rules into the equation.
- People controlling platform want businesses to succeed: Hard to say with the email service providers. See my recent articles (1, 2) on use of email marketing.
You may be surprised to see direct mail listed here. But I think it’s important for any small business to not forget the potential of direct mail.
- Any business could get benefit: yes
- Affordable: yes, particularly postcards
- Gets leads or sales: yes
- Pay more if you want higher level service: fancier pieces will cost more
- Has eyeballs of people: Yes. One of the things I like about direct mail today is at least you know your recipient will at least see it.
- Rules are clear, not hidden: Very clear
- People controlling platform want businesses to succeed: Yes.
- Any business could get benefit: This used to be true but I would say not any more
- Affordable: yes, you can have campaigns for $300 per month
- Gets leads or sales: Used to, not sure any more. Used to be that businesses with free accounts got good leads. Then you had to have a paid ad account. Now I’m not sure even the paid accounts work.
- Pay more if you want higher level service: yes
- Has eyeballs of people: yes
- Rules are clear, not hidden: It is not at all clear what controls your reviews. You can have people write 5-star reviews of your business and they immediately get “archived,” but 1-star hyper-critical reviews stay there on your page forever.
- People controlling platform want businesses to succeed: Hard to say
Yelp has empowered a certain type of person, the type that likes to criticize everything, to take over reviews on their site. Every single client I have worked with who had a presence on Yelp now has one or more terrible, super-critical reviews. I have had clients who were getting great results (leads) on Yelp, then got one or more terrible reviews, and all their leads from Yelp dried up.
I used to use Twitter for marketing, building up followers for my company and for clients, then posting marketing messages. Then Twitter basically put the kabosh on that by severely limiting the number of people you could follow, and shutting down any third party tools that you could use to manage your followers. Today Twitter has evolved into a cesspool of radical left-wing activists, censoring free speech by the other side of the political aisle. Elon Musk has now bought the company so he can open up the platform for free speech, and look how hard they have fought him. I’m not even going to bother fitting them into my grid because I think the platform has become too politicized to be viable for marketing.
I call sites where you can have a paid membership advertising your business, aggregator sites. This includes sites for Houzz, HomeAdvisor, Angies List, or Thumbtack in the contractor industry; Justia, LegalMatch in the attorney field; Gigmasters or GigSalad in the musician field; or Bark, Thumbtack or Fiverr in the creative world.
Most of these sites either charge you a fee to be listed on their site, or you pay a certain fee for every lead you get.
I don’t have enough experience yet with these types of sites to evaluate their workability. But I do know that some of these sites only allow a limited number of companies in any one market to benefit.
After being involved in marketing for 33 years (yes kids, from even before there was an Internet) I transitioned from direct mail, display advertising, and Yellow Pages – to email, Google Ads, Facebook, Yelp and Twitter.
After enduring many changes imposed by the big tech companies over the last 20 years, many of which negatively impacted being able to use their company for marketing, I’ve developed a couple rules for successful marketing:
- Do not rely only on the big tech companies to market your business. Find multiple ways to market your business, including at least some outside the big tech bubble.
- Do not slavishly accept each pronouncement or policy change from the big tech companies. I believe that in many cases their motives are suspect.
- After one of the big tech companies makes a change that now makes it harder or impossible to market, don’t assume it is your fault.