Marketing your business can be a daunting task; once it merely involved two avenues – advertising and PR -and let’s face it, both were costly with limited return. Then came the digital revolution and with it, a vast array of platforms for you to include in your marketing strategy.
Let’s not pretend that digital doesn’t come with its own set of potential concerns for business owners; it can be a minefield knowing where to begin, dodging the so-called ‘experts’ on the way and maintaining a unified and consistent message across all of the avenues.
So just where do you turn when you want to increase your businesses visibility, and extend your audience without paying out a small fortune? Below we list some of the strategies that can be executed for very little – or nothing at all! Please note, these methods don’t guarantee instant success, but instead should be viewed as a long-term strategy to grow your business.
Too many businesses begin marketing themselves without outlining their brand and its position.
Before you promote your business and its offering, it’s important that you define yourself. How do you want to be perceived by your audience, what emotions will they experience by encountering your brand? What other elements will be associated with it.
Everything about your brand should send the same message, and each touch point a customer has with you should be consistent.; this article with branding expert David Dews explains further
Creating brand guidelines that encompasses the very element of your brand will help you to solidify it in your mind. Consider 3-5 brand values, and think about how you can align these with your audience.
Blogging is one of the most cost effective strategies for reaching a large volume of people; and to be successful, you need to be writing with passion, knowledge and authenticity.
The majority of businesses now include a blog on their website now, so it’s important to know how you can gain a competitive edge. Each and every blog that is published, needs to be informative, engaging and valuable, leaving the reader feeling that they gained something by reading it.
Despite the fact it’s 2017, there are still self-proclaimed experts that are talking about writing blogs between 300-600 words long that are stuffed with keywords – these people need to be ignored.
Writing with SEO in mind won’t hurt, but the aim of your blog should be to educate people on a topic. High quality writing naturally gains traction, so aim to write for humans, not algorithms.
If you are unsure what you should be writing about, bring your team together and find out what the top ten questions they are asked about the industry and use these as your blog titles. You could also write about industry trends and changes, or analyse data from your business and use this.
“We regularly attend trade shows and exhibitions” explains Richard LeCount from USBMakers, “It’s great for exposure buts it’s even better for market research. Conversations flow naturally about the industry and what people love or shy away from/find confusing. These small nuggets of information can be developed into great blog content. It’s worth undertaking some customer service surveys to give you a jump start if you don’t get these face to face interactions.”
What’s great about blogging is that you can evaluate how effective they are using your web analytics; you are able to see which type of content is performing and what isn’t.
Your blogs can be the basis for many other strategies, and the content can be used for email marketing campaigns, data included used for infographics and social posts.
Don’t forget to integrate social sharing to make it easy for others to share your blogs on their social media profiles!
It still baffles me how many businesses still haven’t embraced social media; social media should be an integral part of a marketing strategy.
Because it gives you free access to thousands, if not millions, of people that could be your next customer.
Your social feed should be a balance of industry news and insights (to make you relevant), information and posts specific to your business (to drive traffic your website and make you relatable) and dripping with your brands personality (to make you engaging).
Research which hashtags are used the most in your industry and use them to extend your posts reach, especially when sharing your blogs!
Social media enables you to perform ‘vanity’ marketing, and connect with influencers in your industry, giving you credibility among your peers, while putting you in front of your audience too.
Make sure you include basic information in your bio such as contact information and your website URL – this sounds like a no-brainer, but is commonly missing.
Golden rules include posting consistently, using analytics to find out the key times to post, and responding to mentions or new followers in a positive, natural way. Don’t shy away from criticism or challenging comments, always respond in a positive and genuine way; ignoring this type of interaction can be far more damaging.
Content Marketing and PR
Content marketing can be a little trickier to pull off as it’s a beast all its own, buts its worth exploring.
Again, you can take two avenues; outreach an article to industry titles, allowing you to gain respect among your peers and get your name out there, or outreach to publications and websites that your customer engages with and write pieces that will be of value to them.
Opinion pieces work extremely well in this age of authenticity, people don’t want to be sold too – they value transparency.
It might take some digging, but it’s relatively easy to find contact information for editors or senior reporters. To pitch yourself, explain who you and your business are, the title of the proposed article, a brief synopsis and the value of the piece.
Editors are busy people, so don’t be afraid to chase up, and if you receive a ‘no thank you’ – push back and ask if there is anything else you could contribute that would be of value of their audience.
Steer clear of focusing on links within the text, these can often come off as looking unnatural, ask for authorship to be attributed to you along with the business name at either the top or the bottom of the piece.
A link back to your site is ideal, but brand mentions are valuable too and again, quality, in-depth articles will naturally gain traction and encourage sharing, increasing your reach further.
Marketing your business with a small budget shouldn’t be a daunting task; approach it with an open mind, understanding that it’s important to test and trail various methods and strategies. Each strategy should be executed with a goal or purpose in mind and its results analysed at regular touchpoints to ensure these are worth your time (and budget if applicable!). Once you find what’s working for you, don’t stop -look into how this can be amplified!