Are your default settings average for your marketing program?

You’re on your computer. You’re installing software. Your program installs on your hard drive using the “default” settings. These are the preset settings that allow you to use your software normally. These settings could be equated to the word “average.”

They are common settings but they can be altered/customized by the user at any point in time.

When running a small business, marketing is just about always the last thing on the business owner’s plate. There are so many other things to do just to keep the doors open that by the time the owner finds time to think about marketing, the day is gone, the owner is exhausted and the creative juices stopped flowing hours earlier.

So what happens then?

The business owner’s default settings kick in. The realization that marketing is important, needs to be done, needs to be creative is there. That’s the business owner’s default setting. But often times, that’s as far as the marketing effort goes – it begins and ends with that realization. With “real time” online marketing the norm now, those default settings have to be changed. They have to be customized if the business owner is going to really compete online (which is just about a given for any small business in 2011).

There’s lots of different numbers as to the amount of people who search for something online first. The average percentage quoted is about 50%. That means 50% of people are going to their computers FIRST to look for a business.

Here’s a cold, hard fact:

If your business is not actively involved with online marketing, working hard on SEO and keywords, the people searching for your product will most likely not find you (but they will find your competitor) as the majority of people searching only look at the first page of the search engine (meaning primarily Google). If you’re not there, they will never find you.

For a business owner your default marketing settings need to be changed to the following:

• Realize that just having a website is not enough in 2011.

• Understand that online marketing, especially “local search marketing,” has got to be part of your 2011 internet strategy.

• Take part in “real time” marketing using social platforms

• Realize that “engagement” has got to be a cornerstone of your 2011 marketing plan.

“But I’m running a small business” you say. “I’m giving all that I can 24/7 to my business. How in the world can I ever get up to speed with the new “rules” of online marketing?”

You don’t have to do this on your own! There are plenty of people and companies out there who can help you learn or can do it for you if you want them to. These people, these companies, have the passion for online marketing, the passion for helping you get found via the search engines, the passion for helping your small business be successful. You can find these companies by Googling them or by asking around. Some things to check out when you are looking for someone to help are:

• First and foremost – what kind of track record do they have? Ask for specifics.

• Explore what types of online marketing they provide. Is it well-rounded or narrowly focused on one or two social media platforms?

• Do they understand small business? Can they tell you what it takes to get ranked on the first page of Google in your niche market?

• Finally, do they tell you that it takes time to develop your online presence (especially if you do not have one to begin with)? As a word of caution, beware of those who say it can happen quickly. Unless you already have a strong presence on the internet, with strong SEO already going, your success will take a few months, it won’t happen overnight. But it will happen and that’s the great part of online marketing done properly!

2011 is the year to change your default settings ~ at least when it comes to marketing. Don’t continue doing things like you always have. That’s a recipe for disaster in the age of online marketing. Whether you decide to attack this head on or ask for help from a company, know that this is something you must do now for your small business to stay competitive.

What default settings are you changing this year?