Everywhere you look today the world is changing. We are living in uncertain times.
Never in history have information, money, power, or resources flowed so quickly and freely as they do today.
While this is an amazing thing for global commerce and entrepreneurism, it’s also a challenging landscape to navigate safely.
Businesses need to be ready to change, adapt and roll with the punches…. but they also need to make sure they secure themselves on a solid footing.
So how can you make sure your business has the most secure foundation in a rapidly changing online landscape?
The biggest move to secure yourself is to make sure you don’t rely on rented space to find and communicate with your customers.
What’s Rented Space?
As with brick and mortar real estate, nothing is secure as knowing you own your own home. No one can hike the rental price, shut down the shop or kick you out. The same goes for digital real estate.
In the marketing world, the real estate you OWN includes your website, your email database, your intellectual property, customers and network of referral partners.
The things you ‘rent’ are things like your Facebook page, LinkedIn Page, Paid Advertising and even Search Engine Results.
Lessons from Recent History
Does anybody remember Google’s Penguin and Panda search algorithm updates in 2011/12? They were a disaster for many businesses who relied on their google search ranking for generating business.
You only need to do a quick search to find horror stories of honest businesses losing 90% of their organic traffic overnight, without warning – seemingly through no fault of their own!
What about AdWords, Facebook ads and the like. We know that this space is getting more competitive by the day.
Just a few years ago it was easy to get webinar leads for Facebook at $2 or less – today it’s not uncommon to pay $20 for a webinar lead.
And let’s not even get started on Facebook likes…almost everyone has seen their organic reach eroded by over 90% in recent years. Funny how no one was ever told that would be the deal when they first paid for those Facebook likes.
Instagram users have seen similar changes. Overnight, without warning, they deleted all “meme” accounts. A college student, financing his education with sponsors on his Instagram account, which he had grown into many million followers, woke up to the reality that his account had been deleted Poof. No recourse.
The reason all of these online tactics are classed as rented space because you must either pay to play, or you need to abide by somebody else’s arbitrary rules – which may change at any moment.
A Small Business Horror Story
The fact that social media is rented space is something most business owners are completely unaware of.
They operate under the impression that they own a profile, group or collection of followers. Unfortunately, some learn too late the hard way.
Take the example of an Artist from Illinois. It took her 7 years and thousands of dollars to build her Facebook profile and business page to 21,000 followers.
Being an artisan and small business owner, Facebook was the primary way that she communicated with her customers and found new ones.
As a small business, she managed her social media herself and through a single account.
Everything was going well until one day she received a run of the mill notification from Facebook that her account was accessed from an unknown location.
Realizing that this could not have been her, she accessed her account to see that some new friends had been added. She immediately deleted these and reset her account password.
Everything seemed fine until the following morning she received this message from Facebook:
“Your Personal Account Was Disabled
Your account has been permanently disabled for not following the Facebook community standards. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to reactivate it for any reason. This will be our last email regarding your account”.
She was absolutely beside herself and could not understand how her entire business had been deleted overnight.
What was worse, she submitted online forms Facebook to report the hack and account deletion error and has not heard back – with no support line to call.
Imagine if this was you? How would you feel knowing that your business had been taken from underneath your feet and there was nothing you could do? Years of hard work down the drain?
That would be devastating.
Protect Yourself with a Solid Foundation
This example above is not a story meant to scare you off using social media or similar. There is nothing wrong with using these platforms to your advantage, but you should not become reliant on them.
The example highlights the need to build a solid marketing foundation that includes a website on your domain, an email database and a warm receptive email audience who know, like and trust you.
If you perfect this trifecta, then it will be the foundation that protects you from sudden unexpected change while also help you maximize the return on investment from your other rented marketing channels.
Think of how different things may be for the artist in the example if she had trained her customers to visit her website to shop instead of her Facebook page.
How much more secure would she be if she had 21,000 emails in her database instead of just 21,000 followers – 90% of which would never see her content anyway (unless she paid to boost it!).
Imagine if her rented space channels funneled her traffic into her website, where they could opt-in and be added to her database – a space that she owns, controls and can rely on.
In this scenario, losing her Facebook account would still be a nasty surprise, but it wouldn’t be an existential problem for her business anymore.
So, when it comes to your business. Are you standing on solid foundations?