When you think about marketing, what is the first thing that comes to mind?
Do you think it’s:
important; but not that important.
Most entrepreneurs know marketing is the foundation of a successful brand. And in today’s cluttered environment, playing small is over! The myth that a startup can’t afford marketing has been told time and time again. However, with the power of the Internet it is easier than ever to create a marketing strategy that can skyrocket your business. You just need to understand the basics.
1. Niche market
You probably thought I was going to say target market. Nope! You have to be more specific to stand out and succeed in a highly competitive and crowded market. Smart brands start with demographics (i.e., a 25-30 year old female, making $45k) and move onto much deeper levels including psychographics (e.g., study of personality, values, opinions, attitudes, interests, and lifestyles) which inform insights about your customer.
That same woman is possibly building a business and also working full-time. This knowledge will change the way you market to her. Seth Godin said it best, “The secret to being the best in the world is to make the ‘world’ smaller-to narrow your niche.” Dig deeper and find out what makes your niche market tick. Try using a simply customer survey along with an incentive to boost response rates. Trust me, they will tell you exactly what’s important to them.
2. Social media presence
Social media marketing is important – and I’d like to talk specifically about having a Facebook business page. Are you active on multiple social media platforms and want to get your brand message out to your niche effortlessly? This is how you do it. Use your Facebook brand page to grow followings on other platforms.
“Promoting links to all your social profiles on Facebook lets your fans know where else they can find you,” according to Social Media Examiner writer Andrea Vahl. “By making others aware of your Facebook page and connecting in multiple places with people, your messages are more likely to be seen.”
3. Compelling content
Also known as content marketing, the goal is to create and distribute content to position yourself as an expert. Your customers need proof that you know what you’re talking about and can solve their problem. For starters, you need a company blog. Next, the biggest question is, “What do I write about?”
The best content starts with a focus on customer needs, problems and pain points. Your content should speak to your niche in a compelling way and include catchy headlines like “The 10 Best” or “The 10 Worst” lists on key topics. You can also create a client case study or conduct internal research on a new industry trend. Don’t forget to include online video content too, because video converts and is an incredibly effective tool for engaging with your audience.
4. Email list
Every business owner needs to have an email marketing list. Where do you get one? You create it. Create an email landing page with a smart call to action and ask visitors to opt-in. This way you can send valuable content to subscribers in return for their email address.
As you grow your email list you have yet another way to build relationships. The goal is to move them from “Yeah, I might be interested” to “Here’s my credit card, sign me up!” Turn your email into revenue by setting up an email drip campaign. “An email drip campaign is basically automated email marketing. They are emails that are set to send out at specific, automated times in a schedule. It is marketing magic!
The biggest piece to the marketing puzzle is engagement. Engagement marketing is about connecting with people and focus on behaviors, not demographics. Demographics tell you what a customer might be interested in; behaviors tell you what he or she is actually interested in. Collecting data about your customers is the first step.
Study the path to conversion that your customers take. What do visitors do when they land on your company website? What do they click on? What series of page views or emails leads to a desired action? Use web analytics to track this information and accelerate the process. For instance, if a lead form has a high response rate, consider moving it to a highly trafficked and accessible web page.
You can have the best website, a ton of social media posts, and an overall savvy online presence but it doesn’t mean a thing if your audience isn’t engaging with your brand.
What questions are your customers asking? How is your business responding? What questions does your business ask the world? When it comes to engaging specifically on social media platforms, it doesn’t always have to be business-related . Sometimes the social media posts that get the most responses are random questions like: “If you were given $1,000, what’s the first thing you buy?” or “Are you team Apple or team Droid?” Engagement gives you more insights into your audience.
6. Offline strategy
The biggest mistake entrepreneurs make is to focus only on online marketing. While online is definitely cost effective, you need online and offline presence to maximize your sales potential.
Go out and get strategically involved if you are selling wares or services that benefit your local community. Participate in relevant networking events or industry conferences. The goal is to meet the right people and network with them to build mutually beneficial relationships. You’ll be surprised how many customers you can reach in your own backyard.
That’s it! Simple enough right?!
Don’t let the idea of marketing overwhelm you. Just implement these simple must-have marketing strategies and you can potentially see a big difference in the overall success of your business over time.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Sarah Danielle is the owner of 1stMpressions, a marketing consulting firm based in Charlotte, NC. Her company specializes in marketing strategies that inspire entrepreneurs to take their business to the next level. With an MBA in marketing, Sarah Danielle helps entrepreneurs navigate the overwhelming world of marketing; simplifying it so that they can stop playing small and win big. Connect with @1st_Mpressions on Twitter.
Photo Credit: AuNaturale Photography
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