You may have the best product or service on the market but your business will go nowhere if your potential customers don’t know you exist. Therefore, for small businesses a marketing plan is essential.
Marketing for small businesses, however, comes with its own set of challenges. You probably have a limited budget and still have to compete with popular brands for your target audience’s attention.
Don’t freak out. You can do this.
The best way to optimize your marketing plan for a small business is to choose methods that are both cost effective and proven to have a high Return-on-Interest.
Let’s discuss 5 marketing methods that are proven to be effective for small businesses:
1)Perfect the basics (Brand Identity and Buyers Personality)
3)Social Media Marketing
5) PPC/ Google Adwords
Perfect the basics —
In order to effectively market your business, you have to perfect the basics. That means clearly defining your brand identity and buyer’s persona.
Clearly defining your brand’s identity lays the foundation for all other strategic marketing efforts and helps your brand stand out in a saturated market. Your brand identify tells your target audience who you are, why you are different from other brands in the same category and why they should choose you.
It is a collection of key elements that are tailored to make sure your brand is projecting the right image to its target audience.
These key elements are:
Your USP (Unique Selling Point) — How are you different from other brands in the same market? (For example: Perhaps your brand prides itself in excellent customer service)
Your brand personality — If your brand was a person, what kind of personality traits would it have? Is it an innovator or the traditionalist? For example: For luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Chanel, sophistication and elegance are a part of their brand personality.
Your brand voice — After clearly defining your brand personality you can build your brand voice. If a brand personality is who your brand is, then think of brand voice as to how your brand communicates with its target audience.
Simply put it is how you speak to your customers and the tone used. For your brand voice to be effective it must be aligned with your brand personality. (For example: Harley Davidson’s brand voice is aggressive, informal and risque)
Your visual identity– A strong visual identity is vital for your brand to make a good first impression.
Your visual identity includes your logo, typography, imagery, color palette, and all other creative and/or promotional design elements.
It must be consistent with your brand personality and brand voice.(For example: Fast food brands like McDonald’s and KFC use the colors Red and Yellow in their branding as they have been scientifically proven to stimulate the appetite)
Once you have figured out who you are as a brand, now you must figure out who your brand is for i.e your buyers persona.
Your buyer persona is a clearly defined outline of your ideal target customer. It is based on extensive research of the market and your current customers. It includes all basic demographic details such as age, gender, location,financial capacity and finer details such as their interests, hobbies, behavior patterns and consumer challenges.
Understanding your consumer deeply by identifying their motivations and the problems they face allow you to tailor your marketing messages perfectly for them. This increases the chances that your marketing attempts will resonate with your target audience.
Once you have perfected the basics of branding, you can begin to experiment with different marketing methods.
Content Marketing —
Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve heard the phrase ‘Content is King’ thrown around on the interwebs. This is partly true because all marketing methods depend on content in some form.
But what is Content Marketing really?
Content Marketing can be defined as a marketing strategy that aims to consistently create and distribute highly valuable and relevant content for your target audience.
Content Marketing differs from Advertising because the aim is to provide value to your target audience. This generates trust and loyalty. Therefore, when a purchasing decision is being made the customer already sees your brand as a credible source.
The key word is ‘valuable’ because this is what makes content different from other forms of advertising — your audience actually wants to consume it as opposed to being made to consume it.
To make content that is valuable to your audience it is important to have a deep understanding of their needs, wants, desires and challenges. You can then provide solutions.
For example: Imagine someone is in the market for a DSLR camera but has never used a DSLR before. He begins to research and finds a great in-depth blog post tutorial on how to optimally use a DSLR camera on Canon’s website blog. Which brand do you think he will prefer when making his purchase?
The possibilities are endless with content marketing, but it is important to understand that it is a long term strategy. Content marketing needs time and effort to see a return on investment and certain elements have to be perfected for it to work.
These elements are: A detailed buyers personality — Your content must be audience centric. To ensure this it is important to have a clear understanding of who your audience is.
High quality and relevant content — Make sure your content is well written and relevant for your target audience. Understand their challenges and keyword research the HECK out of your industry to figure out what people are googling and interested in. What questions are they asking? What are the blocks they have before making a purchase? Then make content that answers those questions.
Consistent content creation — To create effective content consistently can be tricky but it is essential if you want to optimize your content marketing strategy. An organized content calendar helps with keeping your content marketing strategy organized and effective.
Search Engine Optimized — Google loves content! Content marketing is a great way to improve your rankings. There is no point creating quality content if it is not reaching your audience so make sure your content is optimized with the right key words and google friendly.
Content marketing is an effective strategy for small businesses for multiple reasons. Primarily because it is cost effective as you don’t need an in house content marketing team and can always outsource your content creation needs to a freelancer.
You can also continue to share and promote content across various platforms long after it has been made. Well written content can also be remade in different formats. For example: A long form blog post can easily be broken down into a series of Facebook posts or a video.
Social Media Marketing —
Its 2020. Your brand should be on social media. No question.
Its 2020. Your brand should be on social media. No question.
Using social media to reach and engage with your audience should be a part of every brands marketing strategy. It is not only a great way of maintaining a connection with people who already love your brand but also a way to seek out new leads and possible customers.
Social media is the best way to directly speak to your target audience.
With so many outlets to choose from getting started with social media marketing can be overwhelming but it can easily be simplified to meet your brands marketing needs and budget.
Firstly, have a plan. It might be tempting to start posting randomly across platforms but to succeed with social media there needs to be a strategy in place. Take the time to decide on your goals and objectives and set up a detailed social media calendar.
Next, focus on choosing the correct social media platform for your business. Instead of posting across all platforms focus on platforms that will be effective for your business. Don’t make assumptions and do your research about where your target audience is really hanging out online. Check out your competition and their social media platforms and take note of where they’re getting the highest engagement.
Your brand needs to fit the platform.
For example: If you own a business consultation agency, you can use twitter to reach out to thought leaders in the field and people seeking help. On the other hand if you own a clothing company Instagram is the perfect fit for you because it is a visual medium.
Lets discuss the three major social media platforms that are an ideal fit for social media marketing: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Facebook has around 1.62 billion daily active members. Just think about that number.
No matter who your target audience is- they’re probably on Facebook.
If you’re seeking to establish your presence on social media- you’ll need to set up a Facebook page for your brand. People can then connect with your brand by ‘liking’ your Facebook page.
Make sure your businesses Facebook page is updated with all your brands relevant information for effectiveness.
The most efficient way to market your brand through Facebook is through Facebook advertisement. Getting started with Facebook advertisement is fairly simple. Firstly, make sure you have a business page. Then you can turn any post on your Facebook page into a Facebook ad.
There are several advantages to advertising on Facebook:
You can target and advertise to your exact preferred audience — Facebook allows you to choose the age, location, gender and online interests of the people your ad is shown to. This ensures that only relevant customers or leads are seeing your ad. You can advertise exactly according to your budget — You can spend whatever you can afford to with Facebook- whether that’s 50$ for an ad or 20$. This makes it an ideal fit for small businesses. Facebook is budget flexible. You can choose your objective while advertising — Facebook lets you choose between wanting more engagement or messages when you make your ad.
Over the years Instagram has evolved at every step and turned into a highly effective marketing platform for small businesses. It is the ideal platform for eCommerce businesses that need a visual platform to showcase their products properly and engage with a highly enthusiastic and active audience.
80% of users follow at least one brand on Instagram. At least 30% of users have purchased products they discovered on Instagram.
That means people are not only willing to engage with brands on Instagram, they’re willing to spend money through it too. Win-Win!
That proves that Instagram is great for profitability. Infact, Instagram has optimized its platform to BE great for profitability.
They allow posts to be shoppable, which means people can see the product and directly purchase from a link highlighted in the post.
They allow brand accounts with over 10,000 followers to add a ‘Swipe up’ link to their brands website in their Instagram stories. Something that helps directly drive traffic for your website.
You can also get paid advertise through Instagram the same way you can through Facebook with the same advantages- highly sophisticated targeting, the ability to select your objectives and budgeting according to your needs and limits. These advantages make it perfect for small businesses.
The way to win with Instagram marketing is to build a loyal following. This isn’t just a numbers game- you need to build a following that’s highly interested in your product niche and is willing to engage with your brand.
The only way to do this is to create content that people actually care about and respond to. It might be tempting to spam your page with mass produced content, but if you take time to research your niche, strategize and draw up a content calendar you are more likely to see results with your Instagram marketing efforts.
Twitter is a unique platform because it allows you to directly speak to your target audience instantly. Although 280 words may seem limiting you can create great content on Twitter if you have your goals and objectives clear from the beginning.
Twitter can be a great platform to- Perfect your brand voice, observe your customers, launch new products or services and deal with PR risks.
But Twitter is THE best platform to communicate with your customers making it an ideal fit for highly targeted customer service. Twitters allows your customers to directly engage with your brand, and it allows you as a brand to quickly address their grievances.
It is also a great platform to monitor your brands performance by listening to what people are saying about you — it allows you as a brand to closely observe the overall sentiment there is towards your brand.
Email Marketing —
Yes. Email Marketing still works. Infact, 81% of small businesses rely on email as their primary customer acquisition channel, and 80% for retention.
Email Marketing is an effective way of maintaining and nurturing relationships with your leads and customers. People are unlikely to make a purchase the first time they visit your site. This is why its important to find a means to keep in teach with them and then nurture these leads.
To do this you’ll have to find a means to capture your target audiences contact information by generating a lead magnet. This lead magnet must be something that will be valuable to your customer-like an ebook, a promotional code or a newsletter subscription in exchange for their Email Id’s. You need to keep consistently building your Email list for maximum impact from your email marketing efforts.
Once you have a satisfactory Email list you can start creating highly targeted Email Marketing campaigns and nurturing your relationships with your customer base. The magic of Email Marketing is that it is Direct marketing — you can alter the message to be highly personalized. A well written personalized Email makes your customer feel heard and this builds trust and credibility.
Email Marketing does not have to be complicated. Smart small and remember that the primary goal of Email Marketing is to build a healthy direct relationship with your customer base.
Google Adwords/PPC Advertising —
PPC Advertising or Pay-Per-Click Advertising is an Advertising model in which an Advertiser pays a fee each time someone clicks on their Ad.
Google Adwords is the most used PPC platform because the majority uses Google as their preferred search engine — which makes it an ideal place to start with PPC advertising. Through Google Adwords advertisers and brands can pay for their ads to be shown to search engine users displaying them at the top and right-hand side of Google’s search engines.
If your business has the budget for paid advertising Google Adwords is a great option. This is because you can market to your exact target audience by choosing the appropriate keywords. Your ads will be shown to those who are actively searching for terms related to your business.
There are several benefits to using Google Adwords:
Google has unbelievable reach — Google has 90.46% of the search engine market share worldwide. It is assumed that there are over 5.6 billion searches on Google daily. No matter who your target audience is, they’re probably all using Google.
Targeted marketing — You can market to exactly who you want to with Google Adwords by selecting the appropriate keywords.
Measurable results — With Google adwords you find out your exact numbers- clicks, impressions, keyword budget. With this you can see what kinds of campaigns are creating better results for your brand.
Quicker results than with SEO — Optimizing your website to appear on the first page of Google can take years. For some businesses it never happens. With Google Adwords, you ensure that your Ad will be seen by the right target audience much quicker which makes paying for it worth it.
There you go. You now have a fair idea how to get started with marketing methods for your small business.
Check out these insanely valuable resources on every topic:
Now get to it.