Main Street U.S.A. has gone digital, and barring the internet disappearing overnight, it’s going to stay that way. Websites double as storefronts, email marketing is the new direct mail, and social media is the new word of mouth.
For any organization that counts small businesses as its members (cooperatives, trade associations, buying groups, chambers of commerce, startup incubators, the list goes on…) offering “support” is fundamental. But in the coming years, supporting their digital transformation will be monumental.
For the average small or medium-sized business owner, the stack of hats one must wear is only getting taller and more varied. Comfortable in that hiring hat? Well, your email marketing hat is collecting dust. And what about your profitability hat, did you misplace it somewhere?
The truth is, if there’s anything our team has learned about supporting member businesses and growing small business organizations, it’s that a strong support foundation is essential not just for maintenance but for growth. In a time characterized by rapid digital transformation, too many small businesses are left in the digital dust. So how do you add to your toolbox to solve for the present and the future? You digitize the support foundation.
Take marketing for example. To the average small business owner, it’s a vague ideal: “Marketing? Yeah. We do that!” But when you break it down, the reality is that modern marketing comes in a multitude of specialties. In the span of a decade, the stack of “hats” expanded into a multitude of unique styles to include digital marketing, email marketing, search engine optimization, local marketing, and social media (just to name a few of the latest fashions).
Meanwhile, the member business owner is stuck between a rock (“We need more customers!”) and a hard place (“But we can’t hire right now!”).
Whether a business owner is wearing all those hats gracefully or not, step one is offering an accurate assessment to everyone. Call it a snapshot. Call it an audit. No matter what you call it, this is what any marketing consultant would do for a small business.
Whether you do this by hand or with a solution like Member Center’s marketing tools – expert support is the answer.
A digital audit breaks down your member’s website, social media, email marketing, pay per click (PPC), listings/reviews, and analytics to show them what’s working and what’s not.
Just like you go to the doctor’s to get a regular checkup, it’s important for any business to regularly audit their digital footprint to ensure there are no holes, blemishes, or red flags. Offering a snapshot is the first step. Make sure you cover:
Take stock of every review on key review sites, assess monthly performance, average review rating, and where they’re coming from.
Social media sends a powerful signal to search engines and potential customers alike. Your social media assessment should offer a snapshot of all activity.
Digital advertising is one of the most powerful, easy to target, and cost-effective methods to reach customers. How does your network perform? Offering a snapshot of the digital advertising landscape and how member businesses compare makes future strategy easier to navigate.
Are the businesses in your network getting found? An SEO overview of top competitors and keywords can identify new opportunities to improve digital presence from the ground up.
These days, if you don’t have a website that gets found – do you even exist? Auditing a small business website should take into consider a multitude of factors ranging from mobile responsiveness and loading speed to image size and a variety of behind-the-scenes technical factors.
Whether your business group is national or regional, every business is a little different and hand-made reports can take serious time. That’s why we’ve worked hard to make offering support and solutions easier with Member Center.
Where do your members need the most work? By adding auditing tools directly to our member management platform, the process is hands-free and solution-focused.
For the average business owner, the plethora of digital channels available can make forward progress seem difficult. That’s why your audit should provide every member business with a clear roadmap to improve their digital footprint.
But not every small business has a marketing staff to hand a list of digital demands. Offering a “do it for me” service that puts insights into action can be a boon.
Whether you add to your marketing team, hire a consultant, or add a member support solution like Member Center – a digital audit will give your member businesses a granular look into weaknesses and opportunities.
Some of the things an audit will uncover may be difficult for the average small business – like technical website problems. But there’s always a solution, and a majority of it can be easily manageable by someone at the business (like making sure online business listings are up-to-date). But there’s always something to improve on. Social media, email marketing, updating local business listings, and understanding common website best practices are all just a matter of time and effort.
If your goal is to offer small business support that’s modern and makes a real difference: figure out which digital weaknesses your organization can help with and make a plan to offer them.
While some organizations offer this support internally or encourage their small business members to hire marketing professionals, all too often the solutions are small-scale, risky and unsustainable. That’s where Member Center is unique.
With deep roots with cooperatives, trade associations, and other small-business organizations we know all too well the challenge of connecting member businesses to bonafide resources that make a difference.
Consider our partner, The Bike Cooperative. Between service, sales, business development (and staying sane amidst a bike boom, the time to dig up data and dust-off the marketing hat(s) simply doesn’t exist sometimes. By integrating professional marketing directly within their Member Center, the journey to an effective and cost efficient digital transformation is easier.
Member Center’s Do-it-yourself Services
Whether you do it yourself or use a solution like Member Center, the promise of exclusive pricing for expert marketing services is a powerful motivator. On another level, what if prospective members are researching existing members to get a feel for your group? Full-service solutions integrated within a digital support platform make growth easier.
Retaining more of your membership means thinking for the future and providing solutions. By digitizing membership support with tools like a digital audit and expert marketing support you add one more powerful reason to stick around.
For the average membership group, raising dues to meet revenue targets can be a difficult decision. Instead, the integration of powerful a la carte tools can easily add a new, non-dues revenue.
Driving local businesses to succeed with resources built to unify networks of like-minded businesses and achieve results made possible by the power of scale.