Marketing is a 9-5 job in and of itself… so what do you, the small business owner, do if your hands are already full running your business?
You know very well that without pitching your services, promoting your products, and nurturing relationships, you’ll sink fast. You also vaguely understand that in 2013, marketing has changed. There are a million marketing strategies other companies are using – from social media marketing to blogging to creating free online content to the Lord knows what else. It drains your energy thinking about how far behind the times you are.
I can’t create more time for you, and I can’t be your marketing girl (well, I can, actually – that’s what I do here at Happy Dog). But what I can do is get you up to speed with modern marketing principles, and suggest several ideas for you to consider. So without further ado, here’s Brooke’s four easy online marketing tips, just for you.
Four tips to succeed in modern online marketing
1. Know thyself
Know exactly who you are and what you do as a company. Then create an elevator pitch that you can use both online and in person as a “company bio.”
With technology connecting us through social media and the Internet, your prospective customers are already bombarded with information and short on time. If you do attract their attention, you don’t have much time to snag it and keep it.
For that reason, you have to be crystal clear about who you are, what you do, and why you’re special. It has to be engraved on your heart and at the tip of your tongue. You’ve got to have words ready for in-person encounters and online connections.
Craft a short description answering the “who, what, where, why, and how” of your company. Use catchy, sparkly words. Be clear. Don’t be obtuse or weird. Think like a journalist – you want to give information and give it in a way that grabs their attention.
Keep the long version. Then boil it down to just a sentence.
Knowing yourself as a company with your "company bio" and your quick one-sentence-to-describe-us will save you time and benefit you immensely because:
- It helps you get to the meat and bones of what you want to tell people about your business more quickly.
- You (and everyone at your company) can communicate who you are as a company more effectively.
- You have a pre-made “About us” paragraph to use anywhere you need it.
You can use a succinct, pithy description of your company everywhere – on Facebook, on Twitter, on your website, on your traditional marketing materials. You can use the one-sentence version too when you need a shorter bio. And if you have it memorized, you can use it networking, at lunch with friends, or just in conversation: “So what does your company do?”
2. Capitalize on your expertise – and try it online.
Know your expertise, and then choose one online platform to share it on.
I’m not going to tell you to go run and sign up for Twitter, create a Facebook for Business page, or start a blog. You don’t have time to do it all.
But I am going to tell you that the world is looking for experts, and there are a ton of opportunities to be an expert online because people are looking for expert help. People are going online to get answers to their questions and help them make buying decisions. And that’s how the Internet fills a gap in this new social information age: people can scout you out online to see if you really know your stuff before they buy.
What can you do to answer someone’s questions or help them make a buying decision? What expertise can you offer? How can you prove you’re the one they want to choose?
Make a list of the areas in which you are an expert. Then think about how best to communicate that expertise to people, based on your time and comfort with technology.
Daily: Can you start a Facebook page with tips, tricks, and interesting facts relevant to your industry?
Weekly: Can you write a weekly blog sharing your valuable information with potential clients?
Monthly: Can you create an email newsletter to send out every month with ideas, updates, advice, and information that will help your prospective customers out?
3. Cater to potential and present customers, and you’ll win every time.
Know your customers – what they want, what they need – and then create online marketing strategies based on that (not based on what everyone else is doing).
Today you don’t have the option of providing bad customer service or not putting customers first. They expect it. Just as technology improves and competition revs up between all the options people have, the standards increase.
In an interview we recently did with Neil Patel, a well-known marketing mind, we talked about how businesses struggle to keep their heads above water when Internet marketing strategies are always changing. Neil told us in order to stay afloat, a business should align their interests with their customers’ interests, and to “[provide] a ton of value and [build] that brand equity.” He really emphasized that search engines and social media sites are trying to cater to their users, and that “If you also try to do what’s best for… users, you should win as well.” So don’t feel discouraged in the face of so many tools, internet marketing strategies, and the competitiveness of being visible online. The main thing to remember is to put your customers first. Don’t do anything in online marketing for the sake of marketing. Do things for the sake of your customers.
4. Don’t be afraid to be different – in what you do and in how you market.
Know what makes you different, celebrate it, and emphasize this on your website. Then don’t be afraid to stay different in how you market. This is the key to succeeding!
As Seth Godin makes clear in his book The Icarus Deception (a must-read for anyone in marketing or business leadership), people have enough options to choose from. Customers don’t want more of the same old – they want something different. So stay different as a company and continually articulate how you are different.
Second, don’t feel pressure to do everything everyone else and their mom is doing online to market your business. Obviously, a quality website is very important for businesses nowadays. Mobile optimization is also super important. But there are a ton of options – SEO, social media, inbound marketing, etc. that may not be right for you. Don’t feel pressure to do it all. You may not have to go the same route as everybody else. Internet marketing is all about innovation, and if you find ways that fit your company better than the typical internet marketing strategies, don’t feel pressure to conform to the same marketing strategies the company next door uses.