As if Marketing was not already a complicated task, the internet came around and made it digital. Along came buzzwords like content marketing, growth hacking, SEO, and Adwords to make that big M even more intimidating. What happened to the old days when all you
needed were a logo and a few pamphlets?
The reality is, the internet is here to stay and marketing will always be important. Fortunately, marketing is not as complicated as the big advertising men make it out to be, once you understand the basics. We are here to break down some of the essentials and give you a few headers that will benefit your small business massively. This is by no means a comprehensive guide to marketing success, but rather some headers about what to look at when considering marketing.
DISCLAIMER: Most of these tips do require further reading and some studying. It will not take you years to master these basics, but some focus and dedication are required. We have added extra links and resources to help further your studies and engagement.
#1 KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
This is the numero uno for nearly every marketer. You have to know who you are selling to, what their motivations and behaviors are, and what makes them tick. The marketing guru, Seth Godin, says the reason we get pissed off at marketing is when a company markets at you. It's those annoying ads that are of no relevance to you and the ones that struggle to relate to you. Good marketing should not feel like marketing. That is why it is important to know who you are selling to- so you can relate to your audience. Marketers start to look at an audience by asking three questions:
Why would/did they buy your product/service?
Where do they spend their time (online and offline)?
Why should/did they choose you over your competitor?
It goes a bit deeper than that, but the answers to these three questions already tell you a lot about your audience and are the foundation on which marketers build a buyer persona. A Buyer persona is essentially a profile that stereotypically reflects your audience. A persona, however, is not just built from three basic answers. There are other elements to consider, including:
Another thing to look at when getting to know your audience is the customer's journey. The journey looks at every step a buyer takes from hearing about you for the first time, to eventually using your products or service.
How does one start to build buyer personas or look at the customer's journey? By looking at your current audience. Business pages on any social media pages can supply you with key demographics and how people engage with your page or profile. Other ways of gathering info include:
Interviewing a handful of previous customers
Asking customers to fill out surveys (in exchange for discount coupons)
Looking at your competitor's marketing and content.
#2 Be Online
This should go without saying in our connected age. Having an online presence is not just important for marketing, but also necessary for trust. We live in a time where people do not trust a business that has no website or social media footprint. However, it is not enough to have a basic website and a Facebook page. Your website should be responsive and aesthetic. 50% of people leave a site if it does not load fast enough, and a sizeable population of internet users does not trust a poorly designed website. The same goes for social media. Users tend to disregard social media pages that are not active.
You have to be online, but you do not have to be everywhere. While a website is a priority, it is not important to have a footprint on every single networking/social media platform. This is once again where the importance of knowing your audience becomes helpful. A local coffee shop, for example, will find an Instagram and Facebook presence much more beneficial than being on LinkedIn, whereas a printing paper company (that does 90% of its business with other businesses) would be present on LinkedIn, but would have little use for Instagram.
In essence, know where your audience spends their time and focus on those channels rather than trying to be everywhere at once.
#3 Learn about Google Ads & SEO
If you had any experience with advertising online, you have surely heard of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and Google Ads. It might sound intimidating to the less tech-savvy entrepreneur, or even too much to deal with amongst other things (like actually running your business). At its core, SEO and Google Ads are quite simple to understand and it is definitely worth your time and effort to educate yourself on its core ideas and benefits.
What is SEO and Google Ads?
SEO is how you get your web page at the top of the search results when someone Google's your business or searches a query related to your product or service. It's how Google Indexes your site. Factors in good SEO include having an optimized website (according to Google's quality and usability standards) and using the right keywords in your website and content.
Google Ads are usually the top two results in any search (the search results that say "Ad" next to it) as well as the various image ads you see on the sides of websites or in between articles. You can set up an account for free, decide on your metrics and your budget, and Google will automatically place those ads in places where your audience is present.
Google is one of the first places people go when they have a query or need a problem solved. 71% of users only look at the first page of Google search results, and the top five results receive 67% of the click rate. And that's only SEO. Businesses report to have a 200% return on investment (ROI) with Google Ads, and Paid ads perform about 50% better than organic ads (such as unpromoted social media posts and basic SEO).
Google offers free online courses on SEO and Google Ads, and Google Adwords, like most web hosting platforms such as Squarespace and Wix, make SEO management quite easy. The benefits of taking the time to understand the basics of these tools can be exponential.
#4 Start a Blog (Content is King)
Content marketing has been THE buzzword in marketing for the last couple of years. Direct marketing is dead, and content has taken the throne.
Content marketing does not shove a commercial in your face with prices, benefits, or promises. In 2020 where you have 100's of other businesses offering the same products or services as you (and sometimes at the same price), you have to connect with your audience. You have to convince them that you are a better fit for them personally than any of your competitors. You create content that brings value to their life. If you provide them with value (for free), they will be more willing to trust you than your competitor that markets AT them.
The type of content you would mostly come across would be:
The value we add is either in entertainment or information (or both). Creating content can be costly and time-consuming, but blogs are an easy way out. It's the most cost-effective and least time consuming, compared to videos and podcasts. You will, however, still have to dedicate time to your blogs, and you have to post consistently (at least once a week). If, for example, you have a health foods deli, you could start a weekly blog sharing healthy recipes, or reviewing new health products. A business solutions firm can blog about office ergonomics and leadership. Giving away knowledge and information for free sounds counterintuitive, but it works. It gives the reader the idea that you are an authority in your field or industry and eventually when they have a problem that your business can solve, you are more likely to be the first source of help they opt for.
(PS, we're doing it right now.)
Other benefits of having a blog include:
Better SEO: If your business consistently blogs with the right keywords, you rank higher in Google search results
It creates a community around your blog and keeps repeat customers engaged.
It makes your business more discoverable- 77% of internet users read blogs, and blogging can lead to a surprising 126% increase in leads.
If you want to start a blog, but don't know what to write about, check out answerthepublic.com. You type in a keyword or topic you would like to blog about and it gives you a map of the most searched queries about that keyword.
#5 Remember that your Customers are Real People.
The tools, models, and metrics of marketing can sometimes make you forget that you are dealing with actual people. You can easily fall into the trap of stereotyping your customers or seeing them as numbers. It is crucial to stay grounded and remember the people you are selling to also have families, ideals, and will be loyal to you if you are loyal to them.
Think of how you would like to be treated when dealing with any business. What are your expectations of them and what value do you expect to receive in exchange for your hard-earned money? Think about how your experiences would be when dealing with your own business. Would you rather feel like a valued customer or just a percentage in market value?
Marketing, at the end of the day, should be about two things: Creating a connection with your customer and adding value to their life.
Enjoy this article? Let us know in the comments what you think and what other marketing problems you would like us to write about.