Marketing is painful. Making your content, building your product or developing your service — that’s the exciting stage. The early, wide-eyed phase of design where you get to be creative and craft what it is you want to offer to the world. Then, when it comes around to getting that content or product out to actual people and sell it to them — a lot of people freeze. How am I supposed to reach these people? No matter how impactful, substantive or desirable your product is, it doesn’t mean a bowl of peas if you can’t actually get the attention of your target audience. The bad news is that, despite the thousands of blog posts by marketing agencies saying it’s easy, it’s not, and you’ll have to work at it just like you had to work at developing your product or service. The good news, though, is that once you overcome this obstacle, the world is quite literally your oyster. Here are some important steps to make in order to tackle that obstacle:
Digital marketing encompasses most of marketing. Even traditional communications between businesses and consumers (such as radio) are now, at least in part, digital. Learning how best to market your business digitally is probably the most important thing you can do. But where do you start? There is an enormous range of subnetworks, platforms and forums in the digital sphere, some of which will be an utter waste of time, others of which could single-handedly boost your sales dramatically. Facebook Ads is a good place to start.
At a relatively low cost, Facebook Ads allows you to target your chosen audience based on location, interests, age, sex and a variety of other metrics. Many users have had difficulties breaking out (oh the woes of marketing), but those that do are highly enthusiastic about the service. If you decide Facebook Ads will work for you it is recommended to use an ad manager like AdEspresso. Also consider Instagram Ads as an alternative if your business has a strong visual component.
Google My Business (GMB)
The golden ticket to SEO, Google My Business is a crucial notch to have on your belt. For local, regional businesses who want to appear in search engine results pages (SERPs), making a GMB listing is something that must absolutely not be overlooked. What’s more, it’s fairly easy to do — just head over to https://www.google.com/business/ and fill in a few basic details.
While many ad services like Facebook Ads can be used as a supplementary means of marketing, content marketing is not something you can do half-heartedly. Only decide to go ahead with it if you have or can make content of value that people will want to be tuned into. Not only will average quality content (shoddily written blog posts, mediocre podcasts and videos) do little to engage consumers, it could also have an adverse effect, lending a bad odour to your business as a whole. People will say, ‘well, they had nothing to offer on that front, why would they have anything else I’d be interested in?’
With that rather gloomy preamble out the way, content marketing is also a potential goldmine. There are two distinct approaches:
- Window into a new microcosm
This only works for individuals or businesses with an interesting day-to-day life. If your business runs an interesting daily routine (it could be traveling across the country, working in high-stress environments, working with animals), then you have an immediate opportunity to create content. The source of the engagement is already there — all you need is to present it well, with a decent camera, decent editing and preferably some human interaction (i.e., the video-maker talking to the camera to explain what’s going on). But, if your business life revolves around the office, with maximum excitement generated by trips to the coffee machine, this won’t work for you.
- High-quality content
This can be created by anyone, but is much harder. Ultimately, there is a video on every topic on YouTube already. What separates those with views from those without is that the viewed videos are well-edited, well-filmed and well-recorded so that the viewer is given a high amount of engaging content over that time window. For example, there are thousands of videos on tigers on YouTube and one has done very well because the script was written by someone with passion and knowledge, and despite audio being the main focus, visuals of tigers run throughout to keep viewers engaged. While they are being talked to, the viewer gets to watch high-quality footage of tigers in the wild. Compare this to a video with just audio, and the difference in engagement is huge. Again, though, this kind of content requires serious work and investment, and is not something that everyone can make.
Back to the easier stuff. Google AdWords is one of the oldest online marketing channels, and can open a portal to whole new swathes of consumers. It may be competitive, but some find Google’s ad service easier to handle than Facebook’s because the quality of the ad is a key factor in determining the ad’s visibility. How long users spend looking at the ad will affect how prominently Google places it in the future. So, if you’re taking the time to construct well-designed, eye-catching ads, Google AdWords could work very well for you.
Social media (organic)
With the rise of influencers, calling any form of social media marketing ‘organic’ seems a strenuous claim, but this simply means a natural approach without bots or follow-spamming.
Having a social media presence is a must — the real question is not should you have one, but how much time and money to invest in it. That all depends on your target audience. If your audience is active on Instagram, you’d be well-advised to have an active page with regular posts and high-quality images.
Banding together with another business is a solid way of boosting your consumer base. The best partnership is one where both parties benefit, so for example a food/drink company could offer free coupons to a service-based company (electrician, gardener etc.). Equally, two businesses providing similar or related services (say, accounting and data analysis) could recommend each other to clients. Target businesses in your area and contact them to team up.
Old but gold, newsletters aren’t going away anytime soon. Yes, most people ignore newsletters, but if you’re a new company with a story to tell or insight to offer, a newsletter may well pique the interest of consumers. Also, for those that visit your website and don’t make a purchase but instead leave their details, having a good email marketing strategy is essential to ushering them gently along their consumer path. Consider offering a free trial, promotional code or discount to consumers as a way of drawing them back to your site.
And of course, the all-too-often neglected platform that is the real world. With the pandemic reducing to a low-medium simmer, many people will be out, attending events in full force in the coming months (and years). Live marketing may see a spike as consumers exercise their repressed desire for social congregation.
If you have a product for people to sample, offering a mini-version in a department store is a great way to turn heads and get leads. If there is a trade show dedicated to your industry (and there almost definitely is), consider hiring an exhibition contractor like Black Robin Exhibits to design an exhibition stand for you.
There is a steep learning curve to most marketing ventures. Without the right research and understanding, it’s all too easy to funnel money away with very little to show for it. Equally, however, with so many marketing methods in 2021, you don’t have to lump all your proverbial eggs into one specific approach — diversifying your marketing strategy is sure to give you a foothold in one, if not the other. Alan Jenkins of Koreti comments, ‘While certainly difficult to develop, a multi-pronged marketing strategy can grow a business exponentially when well-devised. There are so many potential channels to reach new consumers, it’s simply a case of getting the ball rolling and taking advantage of the forums your target audience frequents.’ It’s a world of noise, but once you have the attention of consumers, there is a serious amount of profit to be made.
Theo Reilly is an independent writer and multilingual translator whose goal is to counteract stale writing in business blogs. Theo has particular interest in business and marketing-related matters surrounding the online world, web design, exhibitions and events.