Is one of your clients a postmodern Ebenezer Scrooge, reluctant to invest in your digital marketing services for the holidays because he (or she) just doesn’t see the point?
There’s no cause for despair — the right tactics can transform even the humbug-iest client into a customer who’s happy to fork over a few dollars in exchange for your valuable labor.
Just like in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, it’s time to take your Scrooge on a tour of holidays past, present, and future. Just keep in mind that while the Ghost of Christmas Past softened him up and the Ghost of Christmas Present showed him what he was currently missing out on, it was the Ghost of Christmas Future that ultimately made Scrooge buy into something new.
The Shades of Marketing Past
Look, the first thing you need to do is learn why your client (or potential client) doesn’t think that he or she needs a digital marketing plan in the first place — especially around the holidays.
Is it because the company isn’t an “online” business? In today’s world, that makes no difference — yet 45% of SMBs don’t even have a website. Today, 81% of customers go online first to find the products they want.
However, somewhere between 60%-69% of those customers will still head out to a brick-and-mortar store to do their purchasing due to any number of reasons. For example, some fear credit card fraud and others don’t want the hassle of returning something that doesn’t fit right. Your client might as well be invisible to those potential customers without a website and a marketing plan.
Is it because they think that their old way of advertising is still good enough? Gently inquire what methods the SBO is using. Is he or she still paying for the large ad in the Yellow Pages that he or she took out 20 years ago? When is the last time your client thinks he or she used the Yellow Pages to hunt down a business? Is that really an effective use of the SBO’s money when that same money could be turned toward a much more progressive digital marketing campaign?
Are all the changes in technology too overwhelming? It’s easy to empathize with your client here. It really doesn’t matter what your age, there’s always something brand new coming out and it’s hard to keep up with what actually works and what’s just hype.
Depending on your client’s generation, you may be dealing with resistance that goes all the way back to when VHS and Beta were battling it out for supremacy. Your client may be afraid of investing money in a product only to find out that something else is going to work much better.
This is one of those cases where the fear of getting burnt (especially if they had a bad experience with a prior digital marketer) may be stalling your client into inaction. It may be what turned him or her into a Scrooge in the first place.
This is also a good time to emphasize that prices on digital products and services have come down drastically over the years and the ROI has gone up. Even though all ventures have risks, doing nothing is leaving a whole lot of potential customers out there for the competition to grab.
The Spirits of Marketing Present
The holiday season is an ideal time to press ahead with your appeal to a reluctant client because so many statistics are available. It’s easy to take your client through a tour of what they’re missing out on by not having an organized digital marketing strategy.
First, however, you have to make your client understand that while SEO and digital marketing often go hand-in-hand, they aren’t exactly the same thing. It’s generally easiest is you explain that SEO is concerned with helping the client’s website move up the ranks when potential customers are doing searches. Digital marketing, on the other hand, can be more fine-tuned to help your client meet specific goals:
- Finding new customers
- Increasing revenue
- Developing customer relationships
- Improving the customer experience
- Driving sales
- Building brand awareness
- Social media management
All of these are things that digital marketing can help your customer do. In fact, digital marketing is already becoming a necessity in order to do all of these things.
Focus just for now on the upcoming holiday campaign.
This is an excellent opportunity for you to let a potential client that’s been burnt before try digital marketing again in a fairly low-risk way. It’s also an excellent way to broaden the experiences of a current client that’s been resistant to moving deeper into digital marketing.
- Identify your client’s goals for the holiday season. Pick the top three objectives that he or she has, based on experiences from previous years. It might look something like this:
- Attract more first-time customers to the store.
- Have minimal excess holiday inventory once the season is over.
- Increase the average sale per customer.
- Create a plan for each of the three objectives. Don’t forget to include certain necessities if you want to convince your SMB Scrooge that there really was a change from last year:
- Have a way to measure the results. For example, something as simple as offering 10% off a purchase in exchange for the customer adding his or her email to the SMB’s email list can help track the number of new customers.
- Have a way to personalize the experience. Today’s consumers are surprisingly upbeat about giving companies information about themselves — as long as they get personalization in return. You can find ways to gather information and then profit from it very easily. For example, hold an after-hours, “invitation only” shopping and gift-wrapping event for your top customers that will showcase items they might like to purchase as gifts.
- Make your client aware of current digital trends. This helps establish you as the expert and educates your client even more about why digital marketing is so important.
- The SMB is back in style: According to an infographic published by Boostability, 38% of consumers intend to shop at a local mom-and-pop type store this year. That’s almost 4 out of every 10 people shopping — but 77% say that they’re looking online for coupons and holiday offers and 66% say they’re looking for online reviews before they buy.
- Even if your client isn’t an “online business,” his or her customers are online researchers. 64% are going to use their mobile phones to research what’s available to buy before they head out the door.
- Social media can make or break an SMB. If your clients want to see customers vanish, have a Facebook page or Twitter account that goes unmonitored when a support request comes in. Not only are you likely to lose that customer, but you’ll probably lose others that are watching.
The Specter of Marketing Future
This is where you finally wake your Scrooge to a new dawn or lead him or her to a different fate. You don’t really want to drag out any “hard sell” tactics (which will only make you look desperate or grasping, neither of which inspire a lot of trust from clients).
However, you’ve already done some pretty remarkable things by this point, you clever little spirit:
- You’ve gotten down to the root of your client’s problems — why he or she became a digital marketing Scrooge in the first place.
- You’ve established yourself as the expert on the subject of digital marketing.
- You’ve shown him or her that there are a lot of new things happening in the digital world that translate into real-world customers and sales.
You only have a few more steps to take to get Scrooge to give in and open his or her wallet.
It’s time to leverage loss aversion. There’s been a great deal of study on the issue and it turns out, somewhat unsurprisingly, that human beings really dislike losing. Losing often means pain in some way, whether it’s financial or emotional. In fact, humans hate losing so much that we actually feel the pain of loss twice as strongly as we feel the pleasure of winning.
All along, you’ve hinted at all the customers out there that could be coming through the door for the first time (but aren’t) and the customers that could be coming back (but aren’t). Now you need to lay down some new information for your Scrooge to consider:
- Over 50% of all internet users now use just mobile devices. If a company’s website isn’t mobile-friendly, it doesn’t stand a chance with ½ of its potential market. Those customers will be lost to competitors.
- Browsers are being increasingly ignored on mobile devices. Apps are the way to reach your audience these days.
- The Internet of Things has become a reality — everyday objects are increasingly being connected to the internet. Smart homes, smart fridges, smart cars are all becoming more integrated into our everyday lives. That makes having your business compatible with virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa are going to become important.
- Millennials, those consumers currently aged 18-35, comprise the largest living generation. Personalization is an absolute priority with them, which makes SMBs uniquely suited to thrive as Millennials reach their buying peak — but it will also kill off any business that hasn’t kept pace digitally.
- Videos, blogs, free content, and peeks-behind-the-scenes are something that the information-driven Millennials thrive upon. That’s going to take increasing amounts of time to manage if you’re an SBO.
- Online informational videos, which double as ads, cost a fraction of what a television ad costs — and Millennials love them. Any SMB not using them is already losing out.
In essence, a business can have a highly-ranked website with a lot of visitors — but unless the visitors convert into paying customers, that business is going to eventually lose out to the competition.
Ultimately, your Scrooge may only open his or her wallet — and mind — reluctantly to your efforts this holiday season — but that’s all the chance you need to get in there and prove yourself.