My local chamber of commerce is amazing and recently I had a great cup of coffee from the Grand Traverse Pie Company and we talked social media and technology for small business.  It was a great conversation but it left me thinking about some of what I said. You know when you say something that you must be feeling or thinking and it comes out for the first time into words and then you have to ponder what you said to see if you meant it? Well, that’s how I felt after making this statement:

“Most small businesses want me to give them the information for free on how to do something or get started but brands are starting to pay.”

Okay, reread this a few times.

Yes, even after I read it I’m not sure I mean it or if it means what I think it means OR if I like what it says.

The reason I said this was because of my recent experience with some new start ups that want all of this time from me through email and phone conversations – then they tell me I am not in their budget.  I’ve had consultations where I literally feel raped, used and left with nothing. I’ve had social media strategies and proposals ripped off and used with no credit to me – even awards won and again no credit.

I’ve yet to have this happen from a “brand” and when I say brand, I mean a company that has actually branded themselves and have a reputation. I know, I might have been stupid a few times, overly excited and passionate verses business savvy, so I do take some of the blame.  But it’s also partially why I feel that bloggers and people like myself are leaning towards brands that have contracts with PR companies – we’re less likely to be taken advantage of.

Is the Light Bulb On Yet?

If you still don’t get it, let me spell it out for you – small business and start ups need to not just want everything for free but really begin to recognize that there are free resources, guides, webinars and services out there – but it is necessary to budget for social media and digital marketing.

Here is what I hear often:

“Oh, I have a cousin who does web design – he went to college for it and he did my site and will keep it up to date.”

“My neighbor’s son is really into Facebook, he’ll set up my pages and get Twitter ready for me with followers, etc.”

Here is what I see:

A website made with a free template on a WordPress platform and things are all messed up with the business owner not knowing how to make things better; they’re left with no knowledge on how to handle the backend and be self sufficient.

A Facebook personal page instead of a business Fan Page, or a group with promotions or activity that is not allowable by Facebook. The teen knows Facebook for them but not for business.

The Fat Lady Sings

I’m not really fat but I’m singing. If you’re a small business or start up here is what I am singing:  Bloggers and small fish that do consulting we do want to work with you and help you. It is up to you to find the right fit for your company but don’t take advantage and be sure to budget accordingly; you get what you pay for.

Why not? Great tips for free!

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