There are multiple forms of marketing. Until the last decade passed, direct marketing was the only way for a business to spread its message to consumers. With technology now taking the forefront, businesses need to adapt and do so with digital marketing.
There’s no doubt to truly build a business your team, whether it’s just you or hundreds, needs to be marketed to the masses. Marketing is a way to spread news, knowledge, and offerings about your business. When utilized correctly people begin to take notice and start to convert to your customers. A business grows when this process amplifies.
This article is a guide to understanding both what digital and direct marketing are and how you can use both to scale your business fast.
Understanding digital marketing
Digital marketing takes place on some form of screen medium. This can be a phone, computer, television, digital billboard, etc… This type of marketing often involves digital graphics that persuade a user (someone on the other end) to click, tap, call, or visit in person.
Digital marketing can also come in the form of video and animations. Some examples of digital marketing you probably experience in a given day include:
- Television commercials
- Radio sponsorships/commercials (advertising through sound)
- Digital billboards
- Display advertising on websites and phones
- Websites themselves
- Sponsored content (blog posts, affiliate marketing, social media, etc..)
ADVANTAGES OF DIGITAL MARKETING
Digital marketing is a rapid medium that is particularly cheap to produce and is capable of reaching very large audiences with little effort. Many businesses will utilize some form of digital advertising in their lifespan. Often a combination of digital mediums is the best path for success.
The advantages of digital marketing include:
- Reach a much larger audience.
- Quick to produce
- High return on investment
- Easier to target a specific niche if that’s your business goal.
- Often interactive and allows a user/customer to click or tap to discover more information.
DISADVANTAGES OF DIGITAL MARKETING
With the ability to quickly produce digital graphics a huge perk there is often some flaws that come up on the path to success.
The disadvantages of digital marketing include:
- While you can target customers local to you, it’s often not as impressionable. By this, I mean users near your location would probably fair better from receiving both direct marketing and digital marketing combined.
- Often times digital advertising just looks bad. To save money some companies won’t focus on a design that will actually lure a potential customer in. This often renders the whole process useless. Don’t fall victim to this!
- Often times the exact path to turn a lead into a customer is flawed through digital marketing. Do your research on your ideal customer. Figure out their pains and find a path of which they would most likely follow to convert to a customer. In the digital world, this could mean finding out what problem is looking to solve using your products or services. From there you can position your marketing to target that pain and draw unique consumers in.
Understanding direct marketing
Direct marketing typically involves tangible types of mediums that get put into a potential customers hands. This can also be billboards, signage, decals, and much more.
Direct marketing has existed long before digital marketing. Many business men and woman would take to the streets to post flyers, hand out coupons, install signage and even go door-to-door trying to make a sale.
This format is tried and true and often works to this day. How much mail do you receive that you really didn’t ask for? This is direct marketing.
ADVANTAGES OF DIRECT MARKETING
Direct marketing has its advantages and here are some of them:
- The power of persuasion is stronger in the form of direct marketing. Having something tangible or even verbally presented to a potential customer makes them more apt to focus on the subject for longer periods.
- Signage, flyers, and mailers all have a way into our daily lives. If you drive a specific course to and from work, for instance, you often see the same adverts on your journey. You may not take note of these at that time but your brain has a way of remembering certain details like business names, their offers, and even their branding if executed well.
- Instead of just closing a browser or application direct marketing is put in front of you. Sure you can toss that mailer in the garbage but you did take the time to probably glance it over first. I know I do.
DISADVANTAGES OF DIRECT MARKETING
Direct marketing has its fallbacks. We live in a faster-paced world than we did over a decade ago. Marketing has had to catch up to our increasingly digital lifestyles.
Disadvantages of direct marketing include:
- Direct marketing is a rather old-fashioned format that less and fewer people are focusing on went it comes to promoting their business
- Direct Marketing isn’t cheap. To print ads, coupons, mailers, flyers and more comes with a hefty price tag. If you opt to go this route be sure it’s within your budget.
- There’s no user invoked process with direct mailing aside from hoping they might visit your website or call you directly. Many customers do this and that’s why direct marketing works but often it’s a 50/50 shot in getting a customer to take action. Digital marketing offers an easier way to get a user to at the very least visit a promotional website for whatever product or service your business may be advertising.
Best of both worlds
In our own experience, we found that both digital and direct marketing combined produces the highest yield in conversions. We typically recommend our clients take to digital marketing for the sake of reaching a wider audience. We also recommend they utilize direct marketing to reach their local audience on a more personal level.
In the end, your business will thrive if you understand your customer. Use these steps to get started:
- Be clear about what you are selling and why. Make a plan and stick to it.
- Once you finalize your plan do research on your ideal customers. Figure out their pain points and what they “need” or “want” in your niche of products and services. You can get this information in many ways but the best is to just ask directly. I’ll save this technique for another article.
- After gaining new data you can make a better guess as to how to approach marketing what it is you have to offer. If your business’s products or services perform better than others be sure to take note of this and advertise it.
- Decide which form of marketing you are most interested in. We recommend investing in both digital and direct marketing. This can include print mediums(flyers, mailers, brochures, billboards, vehicle decals, and tons more), display ads, sponsorships (radio, tv, podcasts), and events.
- Be consistent with your message and branding (contact us to help with this). If you message isn’t consistent the path in which a potential customer will take to become a new customer can be broken. This, unfortunately, renders the whole process useless!
Is social media worth advertising on? Every small business owner I talk to struggles with finding solid answers to this question. With the numbers and attention of people on social media, most of us in business understand that being present on social media is a necessary evil at best, but it can be a time suck at worst if you don’t know what your doing. With Facebook sitting at 2.2 billion monthly active users, it’s hard to ignore the impact that social media can have for your business. After all, when it comes to marketing your product or service, obscurity is your worst enemy. If no one knows you even exist, how can they pay you? That’s why it’s important to be present and active on social media. Here are some helpful tips to manage your social media pages without it having to be a complete time suck:
1. Use Scheduling Tools
Social software like Hootsuite and Buffer can allow you to schedule all of your social media posts for up to 5 free accounts rather simply. This requires a little bit of upfront work, but these platforms will allow you to schedule out posts so you can essentially set it and go do more important things. Don’t stop posting real time though. Social media is about NOW, and people like to see what you’re up to in the moment. You can set it, but make sure you don’t forget it.
2. Focus On One or Two Social Platforms
Many businesses make the mistake of trying to do too much with social media. There are a dozen or so social platforms you could be engaged on, but you don’t necessarily need to be everywhere. If you’re a B2B company, LinkedIN and Twitter might be a good place for you to hang out and spend most of your time. If you sell baked goods or products to the consumer market, maybe you only focus on Facebook and Instagram. Most small businesses only have time for a couple, so don’t try and do too much. Find your home where you feel comfortable on social and go after the engagement there.
3. Get Your Employees To Help
If you have staff part of the younger generation, why not solicit their help? They probably know more than you do anyway since they were probably born using social media to connect with friends. Younger people typically have more time and creativity at their disposal to create the type of momentum you could use on social media. Many old school businesses shy away from Facebook use and social media use in the office or work, but why not capitalize on that and assign it as a responsibility for your younger employees. Make sure you monitor it, but you’ll find they have lots of creative ideas that will help you promote. Keep in mind, if you’d rather not pass this on to your employees, you could always outsource this to an agency like Severity Design. We can take these things and others off your plate.
4. Curate Content From Other Sources
No time to write a blog? No problem. Make your page, profile or social network a place where people can discover news and updates that are industry related from other blogs, magazines and online sources. Let someone else write the blogs, all you have to do is share them. When you do share them, make sure to put your own spin on it and direct them to your website or create a clear call to action.
5. Schedule Time for Engagement
We can’t spend all day on social media. We need to attend to the other important aspects of our business too! Schedule time for you to browse your timeline feeds and engage with people. Maybe this might be during the morning commute on the train or during your lunch hour away from your desk. Go on a quick walk around the block and like and comment on a few others posts your enjoy. Maybe you can set aside 30 mins in the evening to engage when your customers are most likely to be looking. If you schedule it, it will get done but you’ll be able to limit your time suck.
So what do you do to manage your social media and save time? Hopefully our suggestions are helpful, but we’d love to hear from you your best tips and practices to make sure you stay relevant yet don’t waste too much time. Share your comments below or reach out by email to give us your tips. Social media does work, when you have a game plan and objective. You can get your message out to lots of people if you just know how to do it in the right way.
Running your own business is like filling 5 different roles all at one time. Often business owners are the operations manager, the sales manager, the chief financial officer, the marketing director and the customer service department all in one! Only someone that runs their own business can understand exactly what it’s like to be fully in charge and fully responsible for results. We salute all of you who run your own business by offering up these 5 very familiar problems only small business owners would understand:
1. No Time
Between running errands, getting breakfast for the kids and pounding out that proposal you’re trying to manage 7 different things at once all with a deadline for Friday. Your friends are telling you that you need to create Facebook ads. Your accountant wants you to look at your balance sheet and profit and loss statement every week. Your email inbox is piled up with ads, orders and customer service issues. There just doesn’t seem like enough time in the day for you to address every one of these tasks on your list. Truth is, there isn’t. You need to sleep, even if its only for 4 hours.
2. No Money
Since you have decided to leave the comfort of your full time, cush, W2 job at that big corporate company you worked for, you all of the sudden realize that being paid bi-weekly isn’t necessarily a reality anymore! You still check your bank balance, but the direct deposit isn’t anywhere to be found. Didn’t someone say being your own boss would make your richer? Oh yea, you forgot…you have to sell some product to make money. Your bills are due, your home budget is tight and you squeeze out that last 5 dollars so you can at least purchase a bottle of Winking Owl wine at Aldi because, hell, you need another drink.
3. Finding good help is next to impossible.
Interns will never care about your business like you and you don’t understand why people aren’t lining up to work for minimum wage? I mean, don’t people want to help you? They aren’t necessarily working for free, they are “volunteers”. The fact is, you’re not a charity and the turn over seems to be never ending. Trying to find someone to fill a role, only to have the performance dip 80% when they take it on is scary. Not only do you have to find an individual that has all the mojo, talent and skill, but they also must fit your company culture and have a masters degree and be willing to make 8 dollars per hour. Hey, working for a sexy startup is swag isn’t it?
4. Your business is your baby and no one is going to tell you what to do with it.
What do you mean your website is out of date? You built that shit yourself and hell if you are going to let anyone else touch it! You tried to get the intern to take on a few extra daily tasks off your plate, but you came in the next day to find that they cut corners and didn’t even mop the floor properly. No, you didn’t train them, but ain’t no body got time for that! When you do delegate something, you are a stalker and hovering over your employees like a hawk brooding over her baby chicks. You eventually take back on all the things you let go of just a week ago because after all, you’re the only one “keeping it real.”
5. You look in the mirror every day and ask yourself why you do this.
Your spouse is supportive, but you secretly wonder if they are going to leave you because your chasing a pipe dream that will never get off the ground. You’re depressed because you can barely pay your internet bill much less set aside some extra cash for your two kids college funds. After the last account cancelled their purchase order because you couldn’t deliver, you think about closing the doors. Weekly if not daily. You watch Shark Tank and they make raising a million in startup capital look easy. You start fantasizing about those direct deposits you used to get at ABC Corp.
Anyone relate? The list can go on and on! We want to know what problems you’re running into that only another business owner can understand? Email us or put it in the comments below and maybe we’ll feature them on our next blog post. We understand small businesses because we are one! When it comes to helping you build your company brand, we can speak your language and not break your budget. Give us the opportunity to meet with you to discuss solutions. You’ll be happy with the results!
Brands are like wardrobe choices. You need to be honest about who your trying to attract, what your natural style is and the story your trying to tell. In order to make your company stand out, you must do more than just offer a product or service, you must develop a brand. A simple business is a “plain suite” hanging in a closet that you pull out every so often to wear out to a fancy dinner. A BRAND is a “flashy suite” that makes you feel like a million bucks. You want to wear it every day! Here are 5 valuable ways to discover your brand and develop it into a flashy suite that everyone wants to wear:
1. Figure out who you want to be when you grow up
Don’t just think short term, but you really have to invest some thought and love into finding out who you want to grow into. The logo design your cousin slapped together for you just to get your business launched isn’t going to necessarily fit your business in 5 years. Determining your goals will help determine your brand feel and voice. Do you need to be fashionable? Are you wanting to portray an aggressive image or are you sweet talking your prospects into a relationship with you? All these questions need to be considered in the development stage of your brand. Determine the end before you even start and you’ll already be ahead of the game.
2. Determine what differentiates yourself
What do you do best that no one else can do? What will people experience with you that they can’t get anywhere else? Your unique value in the market place will be what sets you apart from your competition and will be the brand identifier your customers are looking for when they are ready to buy. You need to figure out firstly, what benefit do you offer people? Secondly, who are those people and thirdly, how you solve those people’s problems differently than others in your marketplace. Without answering these questions you might have a business, but you don’t have a brand.
3. What is your story?
Big brands understand this concept like the back of their hands. People love to hear stories and will connect with your brand through the story it tells. Think of your business from a “VH-1 behind the music” vantage point. Every story has a beginning, a middle point, tension, suspense, hero’s and villains. Who are the hero’s in your story? What were the challenges you had to overcome in order to get to the place you are today? How have you determined to overcome that adversity? Talking this out with someone else will be helpful. The story you craft about your business will help your customers connect with you and remember you. A business without a story is boring, generic and will be crushed by the competition eventually.
4. What is your business/company culture?
Discovering your company culture will help you discover your brand. If you are a laid back, introverted plumbing company that has a pit-bull as a mascot, you’re probably sending the wrong message to your audience and they will end up being disconnected and confused. Sometimes others see ourselves better than we can describe our business so asking others to select adjectives or words to describe your business will be helpful in developing a honest, authentic brand culture that is consistent with real life. Your audience is never wrong and the perception they have about your business is the one that will stick.
5. Create a brand statement.
From all the information that you’ve compiled and the thought you’ve put into your brand, distill it down to a brand statement. This must be narrowed down to one or two sentences to make it easy to remember. Also, keep in mind there can be two ways of presenting a brand statement, boring or exciting. You can take all the wonderful information you’ve just discovered about your company and craft a vanilla, boring brand statement. To actually generate interest, you must get creative and create a brand statement that will be compelling to your prospects.
Implement these 5 brand strategy techniques and you will be on your way to rocking that velvet suite or dress you have in your closet. Your business is so awesome anyway! Why not take your business to the next level by instead of just staying mediocre, pushing an actual brand that customers will become raving fans for? Once you actually have a brand that customers interact with, you will have the ability to create customers for life who are loyal. What business wouldn’t want that?
Sales has always been my forte. My earliest memories of the entrepreneurial spirit living in me was hunting for crystals and rocks in my apartment complex and selling them from our apartment window sill. Presentation was everything as a 7 year old! I strung them up on a wire, hung them from the window and presented them in a way that I thought people passing by would stop and take a look. They were rocks! Heck if I could sell rocks, I could sell anything. Many pop up jewelry stores and kool-aid stands later, I still enjoy the art of sales.
One of the greatest challenges sales professionals have is over-selling. I define over-selling as pitching your product or service in a way that sounds “salesy” or high pressure. This is a horrible way to get someone to buy into what your selling. Everyone likes to buy, but no one likes to be sold.
Here are a few suggestions, coming from someone who has personally struggled with selling without sounding salesy:
1. Think of what’s in it for them
I think this is the hardest part for any commissioned sales person. You have a bottom line to meet. You have a quota to make. You have sales goals to reach. All these numbers are typically at the forefront of your mind which will come across in your communication. You’ll need to shift your thinking to keep “what’s in it for them” in the front of your mind. If people get the feeling you’re trying to sell them so you can make a quick buck, you’ll sabotage your deal. We are in the business of helping people find solutions to their problems. If you look at it from that perspective, you won’t worry about making the sale.
2. Focus on relationship building
Trust is the deciding factor if people will do business with you. Building a trusted connection within the first few connections with someone is a skill that needs to be developed. Trying to find something in common or mentioning a mutual friend or interest is a good place to start. Ultimately, people will buy you. Likeability is a huge factor in someone deciding who to buy from. If you focus on building a strong relationship and a connection with that person or group of people, you are more likely to get the sale. Don’t get stuck in the friends zone though! Make sure your close and eventually ask for the business.
3. Don’t read from a script
I’m not against scripts, but the script is there to help guide you in the sales process not to sound robotic. Sales people who use scripts should be focused on trying to memorize them instead of reading from them. Sometimes you’ve been doing this so long, you default back to a script without realizing it with your customers. I’ve been guilty of this way to often. Scripts provide canned responses that remove the human elements to the exchange. Try to understand the natural progression of the sales process and make the discussion sound as much like a conversation as possible.
The problem with most sales people is that they talk too much. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been called on by sales people who talk forever about how their product is awesome, we need their service or they are “the best” only to find out they didn’t even research our company and they are so far out in left field they don’t even realize it. We are a digital marketing company that works out of a shared co-working space. We don’t have copy machines, nor do we need office supplies in bulk. You will only know what the customer needs by asking relevant questions and listening.
Sales is part of the territory as a business owner and you must always be selling to keep the business cash flow coming in. However, if you force it or sell from a high pressure position, you are going to shoot yourself in the foot and put a plateau on your sales. I’ll leave you with a quote from a great book called “People Buy You” by Jeb Blount:
“The key to connecting and winning others over is, therefore, extremely simple: make them feel important . The real secret to making others feel important is something you have at your disposal right now. It’s listening” ― Jeb Blount, People Buy You: The Real Secret to what Matters Most in Business
The story is all too familiar. You decided to quit your 40hr work week so you can “be your own boss” and free up your time. You purchased your cool laptop, your business cards and office space only to find that the customers don’t just fall in your lap. You actually have to work harder at your new startup than you did answering phones at your previous 9-5. No one told you things would be this hard!
Every entrepreneur goes through it. There is a difference between the idea of owning your own business and the reality of it. In the past decade it has actually become trendy to own your own businesses, but most underestimate the work that goes into getting something to launch and the time it takes to be successful. Just like in the 80’s when everyone wanted to become an astronaut because of the movie Space Camp, today everyone wants to become the next Facebook app developer or run the next Amazon. The 50% small business failure rate is partially due to the funds running out and partially due to just plain burn out. We start our businesses with lots of hope, inspiration and determination only to find the fuel draining by the 2nd year.
Here are a few suggestions on how to avoid small business burnout, from one business owner to another:
1. You Need An Outlet Not Business Related
Sometimes your business can become all consuming. In the midsts of being preoccupied with everything your doing to launch your business, or keep it going, you can lose your identity. You and your life are more than your business and making money. Yes, you need that bottom line to increase. Yes, you need to hire new staff that will take your business to the next level. With that in mind, you also need to remember where you came from. You need to be reminded of the story of why you started your business in the first place. Remember your passions outside your business and make sure to find time to relax, rejuvenate and be refreshed. Get into the company of people that are outside your social and business circles. This could give you tremendous perspective.
2. You Need To Think Long Term
Speaking of perspective, you’ll need a double dose of long term perspective to stay in the game. Just because you had a few light days, weeks or even months doesn’t mean you need to close the doors. There have been many times where I felt like it was over for my business because I had something bad happen in the short run. You always have to keep the long run in mind. In order to last, you have to pace yourself and remember that the end is better than the beginning. If you really want to leave a legacy, you’ll have to be patient and stay focused on long range goals. Patience is a virtue that you will need to cultivate if you are planning on staying in business for the long term. I always use the carrots and asparagus analogy. When you plant carrots, you can usually harvest them within a few weeks, but asparagus requires about two years after planted to see any kind of results. We all appreciate carrots with dinner, but when you pull out the asparagus its special! You need both, but anything of value is going to take time.
3. You Need To Deal With Energy Issues
Burn out is called “burn out” for a reason. In business where you are constantly meeting new people, having multiple meetings per day and out selling your product or service till late in the evening, it can be easy to forget to rest. Yes, sleep is a sign of success, but the one thing money cannot buy is health. Your health needs to become a priority. Health includes both getting good nights sleep, exercising and proper diet. Watch what you are eating, especially out on the road. I know it’s tempting to crush those 6 red bull cans in one sitting, but if you do, you are sure to crash and burn. Money flows where the energy goes. If you have no energy to attack the morning or move over the 3 o’clock afternoon hump, your money is going to stop flowing. You also need to consider where you are putting your mental energy. If you are watching CNN, negative news or binge watching on Netflix all the time, you’re probably not making the most of your mental energy. You’ll want to stay on the upside. Optimism will help with your momentum.
Don’t forget to celebrate your wins! Not only will you appreciate this, but those around you will appreciate it. These are great times for you to recognize valuable players on your team, cast more vision and just have fun! The more fun you can have doing what you love, the more people will want to work with you and the less you will want to throw in the towel and quit. Celebration keeps the energy up and the momentum going with your business. It can also be a great cause for news to travel and create marketing buzz around it to help get the word out! Celebrate with employee dinners, awards or something simple as doing a mid day dance party. Throw on some music, pump it loud and show of your best dance moves for a good 30 mins. Don’t just celebrate company achievements, celebrate anniversaries, birthdays and new milestones. Find a reason to celebrate!
5. Watch Your Financials
Business is a numbers game and you need to stay on top of your financials. Much of the stress that business owners experience is due to mounting financial problems that they are either ignoring or don’t want to face. When I first started my business I didn’t know what a profit and loss statement was or a balance sheet. If you don’t want to handle these items, hire an accounting service or outsource the work to someone to provide you with monthly statements for you to see an overview on how the business is doing. How can you know what you need to charge, how many units you need to sell or if you need to find a lesser expensive vendor if you haven’t been watching your financials. I recommend businesses evaluate things financially every quarter. If you stay on top of your financials, you’ll feel better and get sleep at night. You may even find out your business is doing better than you thought!
Being a small business owner is definitely a challenging role. It has it’s benefits and is highly rewarding, but is not for the faint at heart. There are many emotional ups and downs with running your own business. One moment you can be riding high on that new account you landed or the high sales month you experienced. The next moment you can experience a low of a partner backing out of a deal or an unhappy customer that you can’t do anything to please. Regardless, the journey is worth it small biz owner! Welcome to an elite club. Your the one that makes the world go around. You create jobs, you control your destiny, you create your paycheck. For that, you should be proud!
Every business needs a plan. Even if it’s a one pager. Without a plan, the truth is, we plan to fail. Unfortunately, many businesses think their product will sell itself and while they may have a good product, it’s important that they have a strategy to sell and market their product or service to the public. Without a comprehensive marketing plan, the business will eventually plateau. We have put together some of the best marketing minds we know to weigh in on what they think are the most vital pieces to include in your marketing plan.
“Every business marketing plan needs to include a comprehensive approach. In the beginning, the focus should not just be on one particular channel, but on a broad strategy to gain the most exposure for your product or service. A business should also not only be thinking about creating a great product or service, but also about developing a long term brand experience that will keep its products or services top of mind for its target audience.” – Rusty Wimberly, Creative Direction and Owner, Severity Design
“SWOTT Analysis (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat and Trends) is a powerful technique for understanding your Strengths and Weaknesses, and for looking at the Opportunities and Threats you face. Used in a business context, it helps you carve a sustainable niche in your market. What makes SWOTT particularly powerful is that, with a little thought, it can help you uncover opportunities that you are well placed to take advantage of. And by understanding the weaknesses of your business, you can manage and eliminate threats that would otherwise catch you unaware.” – Kim Gilmore, President, Gilmore Marketing Concepts, Inc.
“The most important key components of the marketing plan are to define the audience, key messages and the right vehicles. I also believe that every marketing plan must incorporate the 5 types of marketing as we define them: foundational, executional, time-bound, innovative and cause marketing.” – Jackie Camacho, CEO, JJR Marketing, Inc.
“A pro is going to dish out the foundational, tried-and-true elements of a marketing plan, such as knowing your audience and properly funding your ideas, but what is often left out, and what I think is equally a vital element to a marketing plan is planning for the unknown. How can one plan for something unknown? Simple: when budgeting time and cash for the marketing plan, set aside a cache for opportunities, ideas, and moments that will present themselves during the plan. Budget for surprises!” – Dan Crask, Creative Director and CEO of Brand Shepherd
“All marketing plans should be based on the companies ability to have operational integrity with what is used in marketing. When you make a claim in your marketing, it is imperative that your operations can support your assertions. To fall short operationally is the same as having a marketing plan that does not work.” – Brian Smith, Senior Managing Partner, IA Business Advisors
“Because your marketing plan needs to incorporate every aspect of outreach to your audience and ways to increase brand visibility, you must include a section specific to managing your social media platforms. Social media is it’s own unique aspect of your marketing plan because your audience has very different expectations of you in that space. They want constant value from you and they want relationships that are far more intimate than the experience they have when viewing your billboard or visiting your website. As a small business owner, you can’t successfully manage your social media without a strategy in place to provide valuable and engaging content that builds relationships, increases visibility and further builds your brand.” – Bobbi Baehne, President, Think Big Go Local
“Inbound, web-based marketing typically provides the greatest roi for a small business with a modest budget. (Inbound= the customer comes to you.) Some practical tips:
Small business can get started by increasing their search-ability:
a) Place a video on the home page.
b) Add landing pages that include a video on them.
c) SEO & SEM: Key Words, and Google Ad Words are a good place to begin increasing search rankings.”
The next step is to make it easy for those who found the business to become customers.
a) Add call to action button(s) on the first page customers see, for example ‘Call Now’ ‘Shop’ ‘Chat’ ‘Make a Reservation’ ‘Speak to a Representative’ ‘Place an Order’
b) Fully develop social media platforms utilizing click-through features so customers can easily get to the website where they will see the call to action button(s) on the first page.
c) Most searches are done on a mobile device, so make sure the website is easy to read and navigate on a variety of mobile devices.
Heidi Brelsford, Marketing Strategist, Advanced Data Analyst
There isn’t just one way to create a marketing plan and these strategies only scratch the surface. Each business needs to study their target market and understand who they are servicing and deliver. Only then will they be able to put together the power packed punch that will make an impact in their market place and see the results they are looking for.
Sometimes when you’re starting your business, you have to go through an educational bootcamp. You get all of these terms and jargon thrown at you that you have no clue about. What is the difference between SEO, SEM, and SMM? We can relate!
The technological landscape of marketing is constantly changing so we always have to stay up on the latest trends. One of those trends is something called SEO. (Search Engine Optimization) Search Engine Optimization is the over arching term of optimizing a web page so that it can increase the chances of getting found on searching engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing.
For example, when someone is interested in finding a local pizza shop, in the past they may have pulled out the local telephone book and looked up “pizza shop” in a local city. Now, with the birth of the internet, people will use the web to search these terms to find what they need and answers to questions they have. People may search for “pizza shop” on Google and Google will provide them with a listing of local business websites and information that will give them the results they are looking for. This is the user perspective of SEO.
From a business standpoint, SEO is the practice of making sure that your business website or landing page is optimized in the best possible way to be ranked and found in order to drive traffic to your website. More traffic, in turn, provides more prospective customers that will contact you about your product or service.
There are many aspects of a website that are creatively and technically cultivated in order to get the best results for search engines to understand what your website or page is about. Here are a just a few ranking factors:
- Content quality
- Content length
- Backlinks (The more links you have from multiple high-authority domains, the better your chances are to rank well for top keywords.)
- Mobile or responsive design
- Page speed
- Schema code (Schema markup code helps search engines get a better understanding of specific texts such as addresses, phone numbers, recipes, reviews and more.)
Each one of these topics can be a blog article in of themselves. Never the less, according to Backlinko.com, Google uses over 200 ranking factors to decide how to rank and display a website page.
Should I DIY SEO?
The world of SEO is complex, but it’s easy enough to understand the basics. There are plenty of free SEO videos and informational websites that will give you the run down and information you need to get the ball rolling. However, if you don’t have the time commitment to learn and execute, you might considering hiring a professional to handle things for you. This can save you valuable time and money so you can focus on the more important aspects of your business. Often times SEO experts will offer things like keyword research evaluations, hourly rates or monthly packages to get your website where it needs to be.
Severity Design will put together a free SEO audit to find out how your website is doing utilizing the top 5 keywords your wanting to rank for. In the process, we might even find better keywords that are less competitive and will start driving traffic to your site in no time!
If you’ve been in the market for a website design or digital marketing services you’ve sure to have run across a company called American Eagle. If you’re not familiar, American Eagle is a professional web development company located in Des Plaines, Illinois. They are a family owned and privately held company, however they are a huge monster of an agency in the web design and development space. American Eagle does lots of advertising on radio, television and in various places on the internet. On their website they mention that they have over 300+ employees and have been in business since 1995.
Since Severity Design and American Eagle are both in the same industry, I get asked all the time about the difference between what Severity Design offers versus what a company like American Eagle might be able to do for a small business. While both companies provide beautiful, web design services and marketing solutions, here are a few things that set what Severity Design does apart:
Service: Severity Design is customer service focused, bigger companies like American Eagle tend to let things fall through the cracks.
Don’t take our word for it, there is a whole website dedicated to poor reviews of American Eagle’s service here. Our article isn’t meant to bash the company by any means. There are plenty of positive reviews to choose from as well. I’ve even had good friends that have worked for American Eagle and they enjoy it as a place to work and feel good about the services they provide. That being said, Severity Design is a small business so we understand the challenges and needs small businesses have directly. It’s hard to claim you support small businesses, but run yourself like a corporation.
Price: Severity Design provides affordable web design and marketing services, larger companies like American Eagle could potentially be more expensive.
Because Severity Design is a small design studio, we pass on the savings to our clients. We don’t have 300+ employees to pay, nor do we have 80,000 square feet to maintain. We keep things streamlined and simple in order to offer the most cost effective web design solutions to our clients. Not every business needs a fully custom e-commerce solution. We had a client come to us that was a new consulting business. They needed a simple 4 page website to advertise their services online. There were no extraneous features on the scope. They came to us and showed us the American Eagle proposal. It was a 10k website padded with lots of things the client didn’t need nor wanted. Thankfully we were able to get them signed up for our basic starter package with a website that suited their needs without breaking their budget.
Local Focus: Severity Design is locally based and focuses on personal interaction, national companies like American Eagle typically don’t do face to face interaction.
One of the things that we love doing is meeting our clients face to face. We like to do business with a hand shake so you can feel comfortable working with us. Could we utilize Skype, webinars and video conferencing tools to expand our reach? Sure, but we would loose the value of a face to face interaction. When you are choosing to spend a few thousand dollars on marketing for your business, you want to know you’re in good hands and not just another number speaking to a random person. With Severity Design you’ll get a dedicated account manager you can work with directly on your account. They will not just speak to you by phone, but you can meet with them face to face to address your needs. Larger companies like American Eagle have a huge customer service and sales department. They can only go so far to give you attention.
Severity Design is a small digital marketing studio with enough partnerships to be able to take on projects large or small. We can handle e-commerce, membership websites, dynamic mobile sites and standard basic web pages. Essentially, we can do anything that American Eagle does for their customers for a fraction of the cost. While you are doing your research, make sure you shop around for the best option that fits your needs and also your budget.
If you, or your business has more questions about how social media marketing might fit within your business marketing strategy, please reach out to us! We love helping small businesses grow their exposure and their bottom lines.
There are lots of questions surrounding whether or not social media can really impact a businesses bottom line. I meet business owners every day that are skeptical about whether or not it’s worthwhile to invest marketing dollars in social media as part of their marketing strategy. Social media seems to change at a super fast pace so businesses have a hard time keeping up with the changes. Once they feel they have a handle on their strategy to reach prospective customers, the game changes. Ultimately it can be tempting to just give up on social all together. Don’t do it! I want to provide a few insights into why I believe social media can really impact a business in a positive, measurable way.
Marketing is about buying attention
Attention is on social media right now. According to comScore’s 2017 Cross Platform Future in Focus report, the average American adult (18+) spends 2 hours, 51 minutes on their smartphone every day. People are spending more and more time on social media than on any other medium out there. They aren’t necessarily looking to buy, but they are looking to be entertained. If you can provide valuable, entertaining content to your target marketing (people that are looking for solutions or products you offer), then you will become a market leader that people will eventually buy from. Social media is the most affordable place to buy advertising space at the current moment. This is compared to print ads, television ads and other traditional forms of advertising that people are playing less attention to these days.
Social Media helps build your brand image
Beyond making sales, social media can help you create greater customer experiences by engaging with your customer base, answering frequently asked questions and also responding to customer complaints or service problems. In the last few years, brands have begun marketing real time. 72% of customers who interact with brands on the social pages expect a response within the hour, and real-time engagement is the best way to leave an impression on them. Customer experience has to do with creating a strong brand. Consistency is key when using social media to build a following. Having branded content across all platforms such as Facebook, Pintrest, Twitter or Instagram will create a better experience for your customers and will also give you a larger market impact across multiple platforms.
Social Media is considered the modern day word of mouth referral
The average Facebook user has 176 friends within their network. That means you have the potential of not only sharing your content with your followers, but they will also share and comment on your posts, in turn, giving love and exposure to their friends too! Facebook has a “recommendation” feature that triggers when someone asks for a local recommendation for a restaurant, product or service. If your business is active and present on social media, they can actually give a recommendation and forward their friends to your business page. Not being active and present on social is simply missing out on all the trusted referrals people can give their friends on social media.
There is no logic in promising immediate results from a social media strategy. It takes time for people to get familiar with your brand. Not to mention, people engage on social media to be social, not to be sold. The modern day sales approach is much more customer focused due to the amount of information and options available to the average prospective customer these days. It’s a much better option to communicate with your customers, give them information they need and help them along in the buying decision. This allows for cultivating a excellent customer base that will be loyal and tell others about your product and service, therefore increasing your bottom line.
If you, or your business has more questions about how social media marketing might fit within your business marketing strategy, please reach out to us! We love helping small businesses grow their exposure and their bottom lines.