3 Ways Online Marketing Can Be a Waste of Time

By Bryan Orr

“Please don’t say Facebook to me again.”

That’s what Marcus Lemonis from the CNBC show “The Profit” said to one self proclaimed PR and marketing expert on a recent episode. It was perfect and it was exactly what he would (and should) say to me sometimes.

Whenever things aren’t going well in my business or when I see an opportunity I look three places online:

  1. Google Rank
  2. Facebook and Facebook ads
  3. Google Adwords

It’s a bad habit and has taken a good bit of soul searching for me to understand why I do things that way. Even more challenging is to learn what I can do instead that will be more effective.

Building my business and leveraging online marketing are not the same thing. In fact, spending too much time behind a screen can really hurt the business. These are three things I struggle with.

1. The “Setting Myself Apart” Fallacy

Early on in my business everyone was still using the YellowPages. They were crowded, expensive and you paid upfront, never knowing if it would be worth it. We were looking at something like $12k for a small ad for a full year. Insane. That was just ridiculous.

In 2005, I discovered Google Adwords and I immediately fell in love with constant feedback and instant gratification. Click some buttons, get customers, life was good.

I have come to realize that because of this early traction I fell in love with the idea that I was different and had some secret skill and knowledge that others didn’t have.

Wrong.

I was just an early adopter and we reaped some benefit from that. Google ads aren’t rocket science and I didn’t have some mystical talent. Nowadays every mom and pop business has their nephew Tommy running ads for them. Just running Google ads isn’t a strategy and it no longer gives us an advantage.

2. Hiding from Customers

Next up was social media. When Facebook first came along I didn’t really believe in it for business. After a while we started putting up some funny videos and posting articles and things started to pick up. People would stop me and say, “I see your business on Facebook all the time,” and that made me feel like the investment was working. The trouble came when I started to spend more time working on social media than I did going to local events or meeting customers face-to-face. Instead of using social media as a place to keep the conversation going, I began using it as the be all and end all of customer acquisition.

It doesn’t work.

3. Thinking Too Much about Metrics

Big data is starting to drive the way big businesses think about profit, ROI and customer interaction. Here’s the issue, I DON’T OWN A BIG BUSINESS. For me to spend a lot of time doing data mining instead of meeting with people, training my employees, improving our processes, etc. would just be silly.

The issue for me is that I want to be a cool business with a few data scientists on staff and some super rad graphs that say “Profits are up.” However, If I don’t personally take care of our team and our customers our profits will be down no matter how much time I spend looking at colorful pie charts.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy online marketing; I enjoy it too much. It’s great if you figure out how to use online tools and platforms to reach your customers and grow your business. Just don’t waste time… and no, there isn’t an app for that… and no, don’t email me telling me there is. And please, don’t say Facebook to me again.    

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Bryan Orr
Bryan Orr is a blue collar business owner who helps executives and business owners use storytelling to communicate powerfully with customers and staff. Bryan is a founder of an award-winning small business in Orlando, Fl as well as sought after podcast producer and consultant. Get to know him at Bryanorr.com.
  1. Thanks Bryan for the confirmation. For a few years now I have been struggling to wrap my brain around the efficacy of SEO/SEM and social media marketing in a B2B application, in spite of all the hype. I had come to similar conclusions, so thanks.

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