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Hey, Small Business, DON’T build a website… build a Marketing Platform!

May 18th, 2010 · 2 Comments · AlexRomanovich, All Posts

The more I talk to small and medium-size businesses, the more I hear – we need to build a better website!

Don’t do it!

In the age of Social Media and ‘doing more with less’ you don’t have to build a website anymore, nor do you have to improve it. You have to, and you CAN, build a marketing platform. So, what does this mean?

Well, for starters, as a business you need to ask yourself – “What is it I want to do next? Grow my business? Generate Leads? Or establish or improve my brand?” Once you are able to answer this question, establish who your audience is and then select the appropriate marketing strategy – Social Media comes to the rescue!

Remember, as a business you need to solve problems and create value for your clients, while generating revenue, not the other way around! If you can deliver value, the revenue will come! And while you are adding value, you need to constantly improve your ability to do so.

Marketing platforms have been around for some time now. You are already familiar with many of them – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Yes, they are marketing platforms, because companies conduct campaigns and attract audiences, and even build brands, using these.

Except that many of these big names do not have all the necessary ingredients and tools to really answer some very important questions, nor do they give you total control. But even with limited control and hosted content, these ‘platforms’ give you the opportunity to target and select your audience, connect and engage with them, post content, and promote your products and services.

So why not build your own?

Here is what you would need to begin with:

  • A database of contacts and the ability to manage this database using tools, such as a basic CRM system (even Microsoft Outlook, Mac Address Book, or Google Contacts will do for starters)
  • An interactive and engaging website, providing an opportunity for your prospects or readers to review, engage, leave comments, interact, and other behaviors leading to some kind of engagement (purchase, content download, etc.). Social Media elements are great for this – they allow your brand to provide interactivity to other platforms, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Twitter
  • * A simple and efficient email management system, capable of providing additional information to your ‘Opt-In’ audience – this function can even be outsourced to ConstantContact, Campaigner and others
  • A basic management and analysis toolset to better understand traffic patterns, interest levels, ‘Likes and Dislikes’ and the overall sentiment – again, Social Media tools can be of help here, allowing you to initiate and then monitor the conversation, in contrast to Search tools alone, which are of limited use here
  • A value-added set of functions or a content library for your partners – they are important in helping your business grow and expand
  • Finally, the ability to be flexible in adding new functionality, as the need to engage your clients, partners and providers changes – you can scale with the growth of the business

Here is the exciting part: the above can be accomplished with well-designed WordPress blogging software (open source solution, which means it is FREE) and a few plug-ins, combined with an intuitive interface and a simple and inexpensive hosting solution, giving you the power to innovate, listen to your clients better, and create new marketing campaigns.

So next time, when you are thinking of building a website, think again.

Don’t build a website, build a Marketing Platform!

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2 Comments so far ↓

  • Rebecca

    Hi Alex, just came across this article, and I wanted to say,well done! Too many times I see small businesses starting up create a website, only to abandon it, or not use it to the fullest potential.

    Social media can be used in coordination with a website, but right now the things you mentioned – Twitter,blogs, even Facebook – are all good ways to get the word out about a new or growing venture.

    Best of luck to all!

    Cheers,
    Rebecca
    The Microsoft SMB Outreach Team

  • Joe Zuccaro

    Exactly!

    Accountants don’t build spreadsheets, the build accounting systems.

    HR practitioners don’t build resume databases, they build HRIS platforms.

    Same goes for Marketers. Thanks for putting it in to simple, straightforward words.