Family Business Digital Marketing

What is digital marketing? “That is the most common question asked when we are working to modernize and update the marketing strategy for our family business clients,” says Don Schwerzler, a leading family business expert who advises family business owners dealing with the critical issues that affect a family-owned business, especially those issues that that impact a family business at succession time.

“Digital marketing is now the preeminent marketing strategy for family businesses interested in growing their business in market share, gaining competitive advantage in the market place and to increase profits.” Schwerzler has been advising family businesses for more than 40 years and is the founder of the Family Business Institute and the Internet business Family Business – the highest ranked family business resource on the Internet. Both are headquartered in Atlanta GA.

For family businesses, digital marketing can play a key role in succession planning – whether the plan is to pass the business to the next generation of family ownership/management or preparing the business for sale.

The precursor of digital marketing was based on the on the research of Professors McCarthy and Perreault – Basic Marketing: A Global Managerial approach. McCarthy’s earlier classification of the 4 Ps of Marketing in his book - Basic Marketing is the foundation of modern marketing. That said, with the advent of the Internet and social media, the future for marketing success is digital marketing.

Jeff, our family business digital marketing expert, has an impressive resume spanning more than 30 years. He was on the frontline for developing digital marketing strategies for clients both domestic and internationally. Growing up in a family business and earning an MBA in Entrepreneurship & Marketing – he has married his personal experience as a member of a family business with the insights derived from an advanced academic degree. Jeff is an Ontraport Certified Expert developing marketing automation systems.

Plus, he’s an AccessAlly Certified Expert creating course membership sites integrated with WordPress and Ontraport. Today his work involves developing automated systems and digital marketing campaigns with persuasive content customized for client businesses. This content includes email letters, landing pages, sales letters, videos, websites, success stories, whitepapers, blogs, podcasts, press releases and more.

Here are some of the most common questions about digital marketing for family businesses:

#1. What is digital marketing?

Digital marketing encompasses communicating with your audience and promoting your products and services through electronic channels and devices. These channels include not only the Internet and websites, but also through email, text messaging, social media, video and webTV. Devices include desktop computers and laptops, plus mobile devices such as tablets and smart phones. Mobile marketing is a fast growing trend part of the overall digital marketing landscape.

For more information, Ask the Family Business Digital Marketing Expert

#2. What is the difference between digital marketing and Internet marketing?

Digital marketing encompasses everything involving Internet marketing plus mobile marketing. However, Internet marketing does not encompass mobile marketing. In today’s digital world, your business can no longer survive with just a website and email. It must include a mobile responsive website, automation and text messaging.

For more information, Ask the Family Business Digital Marketing Expert

#3. What is a marketing automation system?

A marketing automation system involves digital processes that are automated electronically. For example, a series of emails that a system sends at a scheduled date and time.

There are many service providers that sell marketing automation. But most of these platforms have a limited number of automated processes.

A full automated marketing system involves many parts. It has a customizable contact relationship management system with tags and custom fields for segmentation. It has a message system with emails, text, postcards and task assignments for managers. It includes automated campaigns with ecommerce functionality and real time metrics. An automated system can help you track leads from their source. Plus, route leads to select members of your sales team. It can contain a landing page and form designer and publisher. And much more.

Developing an automation system customized for your business is best outsourced to a professional expert certified in the software application.

For more information, Ask the Family Business Digital Marketing Expert

 #4. Why family owned businesses are best to outsource digital marketing services?

Many family-businesses outsource advertising to agencies that specialize in such services. Yet today, outsourcing digital marketing services is even more important. Why?

The reason is because digital marketing is a specialty that integrates expertise in strategic creative thinking with technology. Plus it involves design and persuasive content in a variety of media types, such as video.

There are many moving parts that are quickly evolving. For example, ten years ago a business would require a website and email to be successful. Today you need a mobile responsive website with a marketing automation system customized for your business.

This marketing automation system could integrate your CRM, email and text messages, marketing campaigns from opt-in to ecommerce sale. Plus, a sales funnel that takes a contact from an opt-in lead and convert them into a customer. And much more.

Developing digital marketing strategies, including a marketing automation system, requires specialized skill and experience. A certified expert can help you build an automated marketing system customized for your business.

For more information, Ask the Family Business Digital Marketing Expert

#5. Why millennials and  Nexters are best suited to be responsible for digital marketing in family owned businesses?

Digital marketing involves using and applying new technologies. Keeping up with the fast paced development and application of these technologies is challenging. That’s why it’s best for family businesses to assign responsibilities of digital marketing to those who are most adept at learning and applying it.

Millenials, those born between 1981 and 2000, are the first generation to grow up using the internet and information technology from a very young age. Many are technology experts. Plus, many are old enough to have a college education and work experience.

“Nexters” or Generation Z, are those who are born after 2000. They have grown up with both Internet and mobile technology. So it comes more natural to them. Nonetheless, while many Nexters may not have completed their education and do not have sufficient work experience to manage digital marketing, they can be a good resource for applying digital marketing technology under the direction of a family member wither greater marketing acumen. Then over time, you can groom them into a digital marketing management position.

For more information, Ask the Family Business Digital Marketing Expert

#6. Why brand marketing and direct response marketing don’t mix? And which is more important when selling online?

Many family business owners can fall into the trap of putting too much emphasis on brand marketing when promoting their products and services online. Yet when promoting your products and services online, it’s more important to focus on direct response marketing principles to generate the best results.

Brand marketing focusses on increasing brand awareness. It is a strategy many large companies use through print and broadcast media – where you do not have enough space or time to tell the audience the full benefits of the product or service. So you promote the brand.

Direct response campaigns do not usually have such restrictions, So you can provide as much content as possible to address all the issues relevant to a prospective buyer. Hence, the success of long copy sales letters, video sales letters, infomercials and webinars.

When you promote your products and services through direct response marketing, the focus should be 100% on getting your audience to respond to your call to action. Often, brand logos, colors and other related brand-design issues often suppress direct response results. More often, NOT having any brand related graphics can boost results.

You see, if your audience does NOT respond to your marketing, you have no way of getting them to opt-in or to generate a sale. Direct response is NOT about branding. It’s about maximizing the return on investment of your marketing.

The thing is, it’s very difficult to measure the impact of brand advertising. But it’s very accurate to measure results of a direct response marketing campaign. And when you promote your products and services through a digital direct response marketing campaign, you can measure results in real time.

For more information, Ask the Family Business Digital Marketing Expert

#7. What are two types of market research every family business should execute?

Market research is a vital part of any marketing strategy. For a family business to succeed, you must invest in market research. The things is, there are two types of market research to do.

The first type is secondary research. Secondary research involves finding and assessing studies performed by 3rd parties. Studies about trends that impact your target audience, products and services, competitors, technology, etc. For example, studies on trends involving demographics. Or the use of a particular type of technology by people in different generations.

The second type of market research involves primary research. These are studies you perform directly with your target audience. This can be either through surveys or focus groups.

By doing the research, you can learn about the attitudes, opinions and behaviors of your target audience. So you can identify the best product feature or pricing model. Or to create a message that compels them to buy your products and services.

A family business digital marketing expert can help you develop and execute a survey of your target audience. And a focus group specialist can help you design and execute a focus group study.

For more information, Ask the Family Business Digital Marketing Expert

#8. What are the pros and cons of direct mail versus email marketing?

Direct mail is a marketing strategy that involves sending a postcard, letter or package to your audience. It’s primary goal is to sell your product or service.

Email is an electronic form of sending your message. It can contain a message with one or more links to select website or landing pages. It can also contain one or more document attachments for download.

Both direct mail and email are effective in sales campaigns. According to the Direct Marketing Association, direct mail has a higher response rate than email. But email has a higher return on investment. You can boost response and ROI by using both direct mail and email in a campaign.

The key to a successful campaign is persuasive copywriting. The message and its persuasiveness is a big key to response. That’s why its best you outsource the content to a professional copywriter who can create your persuasive message – for direct mail and/or emails.

For more information, Ask the Family Business Digital Marketing Expert

#9. What type of content can boost audience engagement?

In today’s digital world, there is an oversupply of content that people see every day. So its increasingly challenging to get people to focus on a particular message.

That’s why it’s vital for you to attract and engage your audience with the content you communicate in emails, landing pages and other media.

Storytelling is an effective way, and perhaps the best way, to boost engagement. Stories convey emotion. The more emotional connection you can create with your audience, the more engaged they will be with your message. Plus, stories are more memorable. Adding storytelling to your emails and landing pages can help you improve response.

A persuasive copywriter skilled in storytelling can help you engage your audience. So you can sell more of your products and services.

For more information, Ask the Family Business Digital Marketing Expert

#10. What is the difference between outbound and inbound marketing?

A big part of marketing involves attracting leads. While there are many type of strategies to attract leads, there are two categories. Outbound and inbound marketing.

Outbound marketing is a traditional way of attracting leads in which you push your message to a select audience in one or more activities. These can include face to face marketing at tradeshows, speaking at events, cold calling, outsourced telemarketing, direct mail, advertising and public relations.

Inbound is a new way of attracting leads in which you pull prospective customers to your business. You plant messages in places where your target audience are most likely found, some while in the search for a solution you offer. Examples of inbound marketing are blog articles that are optimized for search engines, podcasts and social media.

Outbound marketing is usually more costly with a lower ROI than inbound marketing. However, inbound marketing can take longer to gain the same results in generating leads. The more your business relies on digital marketing, the greater percent of your marketing dollars should go toward inbound marketing. However, finding the right mix of outbound and inbound marketing strategies can help you to optimize results and ROI.

For more information, Ask the Family Business Digital Marketing Expert

#11. What are the opportunities and pitfalls of social media?

Social media marketing is a form of promotion that involves creating and sharing content on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other digital networks that bring people together.

When used in the right way, social media marketing can enable you to reach a large audience at a fraction of the cost compared to broadcast media. However, it can also yield less than expected results when you approach it in the wrong way.

Two ways you can reach your audience through social media marketing include advertising and automated posts. Social media advertising, such as on Facebook, enables you to target a specific audience with ads that the network posts. Automated posts are messages that you post to followers that are part of your social media network.

The key difference is the people who receive the messages. Advertising on social media reaches people that fit your target audience throughout the entire population with that social media accounts, e.g. Facebook, most of whom may not know you or your brand. But automated posts reach only people who are in your social media network who voluntarily followed you, and obviously know you and your brand.

The most important thing is social media is about sharing experiences with people. It is NOT a marketplace to sell your products and services.

The key to an effective strategy is to NOT to try to sell your product or service. If you start off with an aggressive sales message on social media, you can turn off your audience.

It is much more effective to share information relevant to your audience and create a conversation. Your call to action can be a link to a landing page in which you get them to opt-in in exchange to receive the promised. Then you can follow-up by email with a more sales promotional message.

For more information, Ask the Family Business Digital Marketing Expert

 #12. Why should you not send traffic to your website home page?

Every family-owned business should have a website to tell your audience what you do and how it can benefit them. But sending traffic to your home page is a big mistake.

The goal of getting traffic should always be to capture the lead. If you do not capture the lead, then you have no way of following up and building the relationship.

Sending traffic to your home page may seem logical. But it can actually suppress results. That’s because the typical home page contains too many types of information to attract the reader’s attention. Plus, it contains a menu to enable the reader to navigate throughout the site. This all makes it too easy for the reader to leave your site at any time without opting-in and leaving their contact information with you so you can follow up.

Instead, you should send traffic to a dedicated landing page. The page should promote something of value to the visitor that compels them to providing you with their name and email. The after they opt-in, you can follow-up and communicate, and promote your product or service.

For more information, Ask the Family Business Digital Marketing Expert

 AI (Artificial Intelligence) has opened up a new consulting model for family businesses: Fractional Executives.  "By using a fractional executive, a family business owner can get help in crucial areas of their business such as leadership transition, succession planning and conflict resolution - without having to add a full time executive" suggests family business expert Don Schwerzler.

AI fractional executives can meet the needs of a growing family business in a cost effective and flexible way. Now a family business that could benefit from a C-level executive but where the company is not large enough to support the cost of a full timer, a fractional executive would be the answer!


"Without a good question a good answer has no place to go!"


If you want to find solutions to your most difficult family business problems, ensure peace and harmony in your family, grow your business and make more money, then Family-Business  might be the most important site you will ever visit!


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