Small Business Marketing in 2018
February 8, 2018 § Leave a comment
Can you believe it’s already 2018? Every year seems to go by more quickly than the last. Time is flying, technology is rapidly developing, and business trends are changing at unprecedented speeds. Small business owners have a lot on their plates: keeping their business secure, staying up to date with rules and regulations, knowing the latest industry software, understanding current HR trends, and – on top of all that – modernizing their marketing practices to keep up with the big guys.
Tackling just one of these areas seems overwhelming, let alone running an entire business, but there are a few marketing trends that small business owners can (and should try their hardest to) take advantage of. Current-day marketing trends really run the gamut from simple blogging to intricate email marketing campaigns to artificial intelligence. We’ll take a look at some that are more attainable for small business owners. If you already have these under control, you’re doing great!
Content marketing creates a strong base for all of your marketing efforts. But what is it? Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. Yikes, overwhelming! Let’s pick it apart.
Strategic marketing approach. All of your marketing approaches should be strategic. Think long term: how will my efforts fit together, who am I trying to reach, what else is my target audience interested in, where can I save some marketing dollars and where should I spend more? These questions and strategies vary for every company, so take some time to really think it through.
Creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content. “Creating” is a big part here. While it can seem like a lot of work, it should also feel exciting! This is an opportunity to share your passion, expertise and personality with your audience. Distribution of content can take many forms. A very popular form is blogging. Again, go back to strategy here: Don’t just blog when you feel like it; create a plan and stick to it. For small business, a good target is one blog every one to two weeks. Other forms of distribution include your website content, social media content, newsletters and emails, downloadables and more. Finally, make sure your content is valuable, relevant and consistent. It should relate closely with what you do, provide some useful information to the reader and showcase your consistent brand and personality.
Attract and retain a clearly defined audience. Knowing your audience goes back to having a marketing strategy. If you sell landscaping services, your target audience might be homeowners (probably recent buyers) who are around the ages of 30-65 and make above median income. They enjoy attractive homes but aren’t complete DIY-ers. Know the ins and outs of these people and what their interests are. Create content that reaches this group of people, while being careful not to exclude your audience outliers.
Many small businesses are already on board with email marketing, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this useful tool here. Email is a great way to share your content with your customers and target audience; many businesses offer email marketing content in the form of newsletters. Newsletters have a few strong benefits: keeping your name in front of your audience, reminding them you have an expertise they may need, showcasing your company’s personality and much more.
There are other opportunities to use email marketing besides newsletters, though, depending on your business. Perhaps you have sales or coupons; sending an email to your customers is a good way to bring them in the door. If you’re in an industry with frequent news, changing regulations, etc., sending out emails specifically for these reasons is appropriate. If you host events, sending email invitations and registrations is useful both to your customers and to you! Look for email marketing opportunities that suit your specific business and needs.
Marketing automation isn’t a brand new tool, but in the small business world, it isn’t as well-known as things like newsletters and social media. Marketing automation refers to the software that exists with the goal of automating marketing actions. Many marketers use it to automate repetitive tasks such as emails, social media and other website actions. Automation uses data at a level that most small business owners simply don’t have the time to do; it can pick through your audience and determine who opens the most emails, who reads which articles, etc., and lets you know who your strongest prospective customers are. Now that’s useful information!
While not a new concept at all, social media is here to stay, and it continues to develop and change. The first rule of a successful social media presence for a small business is to know which platforms your audience uses. Once you determine the best platforms for your business, reach your audience in the way they want to be reached with the content they’ll like. This might be informational articles, photos of you and your team, photos of your product, live steam videos of a project, third-party articles, etc. Come up with a plan and a goal, and utilize social media tools and paid opportunities to reach the audience you need.
The above areas are almost completely digital marketing strategies, and in today’s world, this should come as no surprise. Online marketing is very beneficial; everything works together in your favor if you strategize and play your cards right. But is the world turning into robots? Of course not. Traditional face-to-face marketing, or relationship marketing, will always have its place in the world. Know your customers’ names, their family members and hobbies, what products or services they like most – let them know that you know and appreciate them. (Side note: there’s an online tool for this as well – CRM (client relationship management) systems.)
No matter the size of your company, the industry you’re in or the time and resources you have, know that you can market effectively. All it takes is a little strategizing and planning to get started in the right direction. Happy marketing!