SEO versus SEM versus SMM versus Old School

Small and medium sized businesses have so many opportunities to market themselves these days that it’s hard to choose where to start or expand. At the same time, budgets are tight and in most business plans, doing it all can be impossible. So, how does one choose what to do?

The first factor in deciding how to deploy a comprehensive marketing plan is to take a rational look at the business you are in. For many businesses, the train has already left the station… your prospective customers are actively searching for what it is you offer on the internet. For other businesses, it’s still the good ole days for the good old school ways of marketing. You have to find the mix that’s right for your situation.

But lets assume, all things equal, your business could enjoy success with a measured dose of all four types of marketing strategies. If you were a new client of ours, here is how we would compare them to help you decide what to do.

Old School: print, radio, tv and direct mail:

It’s true that magazines and newspapers are in decline. Major advertisers had to cut their budgets in order to create a presence online. Some found they could abandon some of their old school strategies for the new ones with positive results. But many small businesses, especially those “fighting in the trenches” for local customers will find they need to continue with these mediums to some degree. Direct mail has also moved into email. Do you have a mailing list? One of the most important things you can do for your list is to clean it up, get your recipients email address and begin to make the switch from postage to electronic delivery.

SEM = Search Engine Marketing; which actually means “pay-per-click” advertising:

If you have a new website, it is not going to immediately perform in the search engines. You can supplement your lack of natural presence by purchasing ads that show up for the relevant searches you wished you showed up for naturally. As time goes by (and if you engage in an SEO project) you will begin to show up in the natural results. This allows you to reduce your SEM budget or alter it significantly to compliment your growing natural presence. SEM also equals online advertising; banners, boxes, pop-ups, paid links, etc. There can be significantly focused places where your advertising dollar can make a positive difference if chosen carefully and tracked.

SMM – Social Media Marketing:

Many businesses are jumping on the Social Network bandwagon for good reason; their customers are already there. Places like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are all the rage. Perhaps it makes no sense to you. It’s hard to wrap your head around new ways of marketing. But being able to engage with your active and potential customers on a regular basis, “exposing” the character of your organization is the new way to establish your brand… no matter how small or large you may be!

SEO – Search Engine Optimization:

The cornerstone of a 2000’s marketing plan has to be a well designed, scalable web site that has been optimized so that the search engines “read” it correctly and award it with top ranking results for relevant searches made by people who are looking for what it is you offer. Today, SEO is a sophisticated process of both “on-page” optimization and “off page” linking. Over time, with a well developed partnership between the client and the SEO agency, a good SEO project will bring search prominence that will be responsible for more than half of the traffic your web site receives.

So, now we know the four elements of “modern-day” marketing. How do we decide how much of what to employ where and when? More than ever, it pays to seek out a good marketing consultant to help you sift through the many possibilities and create a cohesive plan that will serve your specific business well.

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