Today’s business environment is so much more competitive compared to the old days. Back then you either had broadcast or print media or you don’t. Because of the broader scope and coverage of online media, the proper online marketing strategies for small business can easily make or break your company.
The foundation of online marketing consists of Paid Media (Ads), Owned Media (your website, email marketing, blogs, social media) and Earned Media (Organic press, articles written about you). When thinking about strategies (Business, Customer and Marketing), the focus is always on shared values (when goals of business overlap with goals of customers). Marketing strategy is to be built with this shared value in mind. Marketing an experience and telling a story.
Successfully marketing your business online can result in great success or your efforts could just drown under the waves of the competition. But it’s more than just taking advantage of the various avenues of online marketing. Marketing itself means properly conveying your company’s business strategy, mission statement, vision, value proposition, customer strategy, target market, etc.
The components of online marketing can encompass SEO, like google organic search. It also includes search marketing, such as paid Google AdWords. Social Media is also important by leveraging Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. Web development and design factors in as well.
Being able to successfully market your business not only attracts clients, but investors as well. Let us discuss several online marketing strategies you will need when you set up a small business.
SEO and SEM Marketing
First and foremost, every business now requires a website. Even if you’re capable of spending for print and paid media, you will still need one or more online marketing strategies. Your website, even if it’s composed of a single page needs to contain one or more of the following. Your company’s target market, business strategy, mission statement, vision, value proposition, and customer strategy.
A company value proposition explains how their product solves customers’ problems, improves their situation, delivers specific benefits, and tells their target customer why they should buy from them. Not their competition. It is a unique differentiator.
You might want to restrain yourself on the strategic content though. What’s important is for your customers and potential investors to understand what your business is all about. They also care how you will take care of them. All you will need for your paid media is a short description for your business, some keywords, a URL to a good landing page, and several strong titles. The next step is to market the website further by optimizing your landing page. Let the people know it exists, provide quality content for a high quality score.
Therefore, you need to implement proper SEO marketing through the use of properly placed keywords within the website itself. Having multiple links pointing to the site can also be useful. Also having an easy to use interface and layout and other rules that search engines continue to lay out.
Speaking of search engine rules, the rules state that your site should have descriptive, engaging and even entertaining content, sprinkled with the SEO keywords. As many would say, content marketing is key because interesting content is shareable. It can even go viral which would go a long way to help your company’s online marketing strategies. The content should not be for the sole purpose of sprinkling keywords for the website. It should be engaging as well, resulting in calls to action such as commenting and best of all sharing.
You want to make sure you reach the correct audience, understand the audience, and understand where to find the audience (i.e., what marketing channel to leverage). This entails understanding the goals of each audience and segment. Think about this from a shared valued perspective, where the goals of your business and the goals of the customer overlap. Think about your target audience and KPIs.
How you think you are different and how the customer sees you can be very different. Think about cost to entry language, and how you can differentiate yourself. Think about the features and benefits of the category you are in. Just make sure it is clear and different.
Example 1: Rackspace
In the hosting and server space. Most people talked about speed, the right server space, no or minimal down time. But RackSpace came in and differentiated them self with language as having and offering ‘Fanatical Support’
Example 2: Zappos
They focus on “Happiness”, verses delivery time, availability of inventory. They also focus on a range of products to choose from and competitive pricing.
Ask some of these questions below.
- Where is my audience active?
- Where are they searching?
- What does my audience search for?
- What are your Social Media Tactics/Plan
Social Media Marketing
And the best way for content to go viral and an online marketing strategy that should not be ignored by small businesses is social media marketing. Businesses that have no websites can also work with social media through avenues like Facebook Groups, Pages and Business. But keep in mind there is also other social channel, such as YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.
And because this can be considered one of the easiest avenues, businesses can use a combination of platforms and even all of them. But even these platforms require a keen mind on using SEO techniques. Proper keywords for search is still essential and these platforms also demand plenty of content, something that a good website can provide.
Local SEO Strategy
Local SEO is always an important strategy to consider. Best examples of local SEO applications include: auto repair shops, restaurants, bakeshops and other businesses that customers would look for within their immediate vicinity. It’s a simple matter of including your address, contact information and registering your business. Then you coordinate your business in various mapping services. All of these will then be compiled by search engines that could.
Paid media is also integral. Companies big and small still need to push their URL or Facebook pages to their target audience specific to their local area. This could be via short paid blurbs, short commercials, or paid print ads. One way or another, business owners might have to spend a little to earn a little. Then, let the online marketing strategies do the rest.
Marketing Goals and Strategy
This is where you want to think about your marketing plan and goals (the foundation of your marketing plan as mentioned at the top of this article) for each audience segment. Paid Media (Ads), Owned Media (your website, email marketing, blogs, social media) and Earned Media (Organic press, articles written about you). Once you finalize your marketing strategy, it will help you further understand your business and marketing channels available to you. It is important to build out this strategy last, and re-visit it often.
- What questions or thoughts can you ask yourself to help your business to rise above the clutter and competition out there?
- Where do you feel the squeeze?
- Can you rise above it all?
- Where and what is your “sweet spot” where you think you are different?
In conclusion, these are some questions to think about as you build your strategy and develop a plan to test and validate.