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The Future of Small Business Inbound Marketing: Communities and Co-ops

Why Online Visibility Matters

Because we start our shopping online these days. For almost everything. While at the same time we’re getting better at ignoring ads in favor of online reviews and online recommendations from friends (we call these social signals).

If your online presence is weak, you’re being left out of the ever strengthening grip the Internet has our attracting prospects and customers to your business.

Online Visibility Takes Money, Time, and Effort

A stark reality of increasing online visibility is that it requires effort. Success requires the right stuff be done, in the right order (and there is an order for things), AND in the right way.

This is yet one more thing where small Main St. businesses are disadvantaged. Big brands supported by Wall St. investors have the big budgets. Small Main St. businesses don’t.

Although this is not news to any of us, many of us like to pretend it’s not true.

Big Brands with Big Budgets: Their Success Formula

Effective Inbound Marketing involves publishing content (mostly to your website) that is relevant, interesting, and most of all useful. It further involves sharing the best stuff with others with the intention of attracting links, comments, and social shares.

A big business can devote a team to the effort. A very big business can devote an entire department.

The Influence of Wall Street

A very strong advantage big businesses have is what we call Economies of Scale. Funding a 10 person Inbound Marketing and Social Media department is cheap when your total revenues are hundreds of millions per year.

This economies of scale is the primary driving factor being the “big box phenomenon” where small businesses are being displayed by major corporations, backed by Wall St. investors, who have deep resources for marketing.

The Problem for Main Street Businesses

Simply put, the lack of big budgets means establishing your online presence becomes a part time job for one person.

While it can be done, when competing against the big boys, you’re starting with a resource deficit.

The good news for small business Inbound Marketing is many corporate Inbound Marketing functions are badly done. Their disjointedness is your advantage.

The Solution for Main Street Businesses

The future of small business Internet marketing lies in small businesses working together in some form of a cooperative arrangement specifically put together so the members help each other out.

There are two broad categories where this can work:

  1. A loose grouping of businesses who simply agree to help each other.
  2. A tighter grouping of businesses who form a co-op business structure.

Both are described below.

Why This Cooperative Effort Matters

One of the biggest boosts to being found online is having been found. In terms of SEO what this specifically means is:

  1. People link to you.
  2. People comment upon your blog posts.
  3. People share your blog posts on social media, especially GooglePlus.

This helps gets your online presence started and helps even more people find you.

Let’s Help Each Other

Each business maintains their independent and separate identities. They help each other as described above. The group creates a group email alias, and when ever someone has a post they wish to share, they email it to the group.

The group collectively then links to it, comments upon it, and shares it via social media.

By everyone doing this for everyone else, the online presence of everyone involved increases.

Let’s do This Together

In this structure, a common brand is established in additional to the individual websites of the member businesses. A new website is brought up to promote this common brand. Everyone blogs on the “central” website and when it’s appropriate to share a post, the links come from the members websites, the comments and social shares come from the members.

This is similar to the “Let’s Help Each Other” model, but by virtue of created a website that gets updated 50 times more often (assuming there are 50 members), it’s search ranking rises much faster than the individual websites of the member businesses.

Time to Learn More?

Inbound Marketing works and done properly it will work for your business.

Time to learn more?

Download the eBook: The 7 Fundamentals of Being Found Online


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