In one episode of the popular TV show Big Bang Theory, waitress Penny decides to market her crafts for some side income. Theoretical physicist Leonard builds a website (which the gang thinks looks like a 13 year old girl’s Myspace page), and almost as soon as it is launched Penny receives a rush order for 1,000 rhinestone hair barrettes. It is her second online order. Her website, which we do not see but which the show’s characters consider poor quality, would not have had time to be indexed by Google yet, and hasn’t even been approved by the website owner, but she receives two orders within hours of launch (we estimate) and has a crisis because she can only make 20 of her items a day.
We thought of this episode when we were talking with a client about social media recently.
“I know it’s important,” he said, “and we know we can do it, but it doesn’t get done.”
I pointed out that our most basic level of social media management involves 45 posts a week, roughly 193 posts a month. With thoughtful curating, new content provision, and persuasive writing for each post, there’s some time and skill involved in that. “You could pay us to do it, or you could hire someone and let that be their main job,” I suggested.
Our client shook his head. He said that they needed to have control over the process so it didn’t get out of hand.
This is just the problem that Penny has when her fledgling website turns out to do its job better than she expected. And we know from research that small businesses think this might happen to them. Not wanting too much new business is one of the top reasons that small businesses decide not to have websites.
It’s the other side of the coin from small business owners who build a website and think they’ll instantly have all the business they need. Instead of being shocked by having too much business, they’re shocked when they don’t have floods right away.
Social media is the new word of mouth. It can be much faster than the old word of mouth, but it still takes time. The screenshot below shows traffic growth for a successful website over a period of several years.
The shot below shows the first six months of traffic at our lab site, an educational site, showing the Back to School peak and return to a fairly steady upward climb.
Both of these are successful websites. You won’t get overwhelmed by customers from your website as soon as you get your digital marketing underway. You’ll see steady gradual growth, and it may start slowly, as you see on the left side of each of those graphs.
Greater investments will bring faster growth, so you can control your growth by controlling your investment. But it won’t start until you start. And it won’t start in the middle of the graph, unless, like Penny’s site, the success of your website is being controlled by scriptwriters instead of market forces.
Don’t be afraid to begin digital marketing.