A comprehensive startup guide to online marketing for your business
Marketing and promoting your business should be an ongoing process. A good marketing strategy is the scaffold that allows your business to grow. It can be easy to become confused or lost. Gain control with this guide to what a fantastic marketing strategy should be.
Imagine several helium filled balloons, all bobbing about in the breeze. Each balloon is attached to a string, a strand that holds them all together. One balloon is not enough to lift the weight of your business but when all the balloons are tied together, just like a well-planned, executed and reviewed marketing strategy, your business will lift up, up and away.
#1 Know Who Your Customers Are and Where They Are
Has your customer base changed? When you planed your initial marketing strategy, it may have been some years or months ago. Your customer then may look very different to the customer of today. They may hang out in different places both in terms of their high-street shopping habits, as well as where they are online.
Consider too how the reputation and reception of some marketing vehicles have changed over this time too. For example, has the age group of your customers fallen in love with Snapchat, or have they fallen out with Facebook since the latest set of algorithm changes?
Is local radio still reaching the local populace, or is there a new opportunity on the horizon.
Your customers won’t necessarily stay the same and neither will the channels, online and offline, that you use to reach them.
Social media channels, from photo-rich Instagram and Pinterest to Facebook to Twitter and so on, all have a changing and shifting audience. Your customers, fans and followers may once have been the darlings of Twitter but, now they have moved over to Facebook and so on.
Understanding these shifting sands are important for creating a social media campaign that hits the mark. As you would imagine, there are all manner of ways of finding out who is viewing what and when.
You can do this several ways;
●On a platform-by-platform basis – for example, you can pinpoint with accuracy your paid adverts on social media channels providing you know how to. Setting up your target audience for advert reach is not difficult when you know how. An advert can be tweaked and changed as and when it needs to, as well as when you have different social media campaigns aimed at different audiences. The social media platform will often have a whole heap of ‘how to’ guides and videos to help you along as well.
●Using a social media management program – juggling and balancing all the different social media platforms is tricky. Using a management program such as Social Oomph or Buffer can take the stress out of managing and reviewing several social media marketing campaigns. These platforms give you impressive charts and statistics for your posting, tweeting, sharing and liking activities across a range of social medias. Combined with statistics from your own website you can see who is buying, finding your site, buying and bouncing.
#2 The Money
Let’s be realistic, you have a budget. It may be gargantuan or it may be a modest sum. It doesn’t matter how big a marketing budget you have or don’t have, if you have not measured the potential reach of a marketing channel or tool, then it is money wasted.
For example, consider the financial waste (and time) of ordering professionally designed and printed exhibition stands and displays if you don’t know how you are going to use them (see #4).
BEFORE investing in any marketing campaign, you should be clear about what it can achieve and what the parameters for success (and failure are). Once you know what information you are looking for, you can develop the tools to do the number-crunching.
#3 Follow the Trail
Before you start ordering flyers and brochures, recording radio jingles and investing heavily in social media campaigns, you need to have objectives for each.
And this means understanding how you are intending to measure the success of each of these promotional activities and tools.
You may want to ask yourself the question ‘how do you know when a campaign has been successful?’ Is it always measured through increased sales or, is the objective of some promotional tools to reach out to a new audience etc.?
There are many measures of success. Decide which one suits your business and the objective behind the marketing strategy.
#4 Offline Marketing
It was hinted at in an earlier point about offline marketing and the use of printed materials and tools to enhance your business.
A bit like a ‘kid in a candy store’, it is tempting to order everything with your logo and contact details on. Great, you have t-shirts and sticky fluffy bugs with tails, posters and postcards. Now what?
With any marketing strategy with any objective and budget, if you don’t know how you are going to use or distribute printed, offline promotional stuff then… don’t order it. Otherwise, it will gather dust on a shelf and will again, be money wasted from your marketing budget.
#5 Online Marketing
The online world is vast, with few boundaries and borders between people countries and interest groups. In one way, great news but in terms of online promotion, it can be a bit of a nightmare.
Just how do you find the people who would be interested in your stuff? There are various ways of finding your customers online, where they hangout, the places they go and what it is they want to see or hear from your company about products and services.
It is tempting to create online content and then just throwing out there, hoping that the tide of the internet will wash it along in its current and it’ll find its own way to the correct destination. Likelihood is, it’ll wash up a few metres away without making any real headway.
BONUS: Dove Tail Online and Offline
And finally, offline and online marketing strategies and tools should work together and not against each other. One is not better than the other…
When designing and printing offline marketing tools, ensure that all your social media handles, website address and email addresses are included, if appropriate.
The use of quick response or QR codes on printed material are also a great way of including online information on printed materials. The user simply downloads a QR reader on their phone for free, if they haven’t already done so, scan the code and it will take them to where you want them to go.
There is no reason why the online and offline marketing campaigns of your business cannot work in tandem, mutually beneficial and supportive to each other.
Is Boosting Your Business Just About Bagging More New Customers?
Of course, it is! You may cry. But is it, really?
●New Customers – a growing customer base is clearly essential, especially if you make marketing efforts to pull new customers in from new demographics, such as age groups. You may also decide to mount a campaign to persuade more men or women to buy your product or services. The more diverse your customer base, the more stable your business growth could be.
●Returning Customers – however, it is easy to forget that a base of returning customers is also part and parcel of giving your business a boost. A marketing campaign that encourages the next step – buy again and get 10% off etc. – should also be part of an ongoing marketing process.
●Encourage Maximised Sales – in high street stores, you may notice the till displays and the fact that the sales assistant has clearly been trained to ask if you would like any half-price perfume/vitamins/paper/frying pan as you have spent more than X amount or because it is today’s special offer. This is maximising sales and is another form of marketing that can prove to be a useful boost for business. If two out of every five customers bought a cut-price frying pan, that is a boost to sales that otherwise would not have happened but because it was suggested, the purchase was made.
●Collaboration and Partnership Marketing Campaigns – this isn’t about schmoozing with your competitors (there is no gain in that!) but working with a brand that ties in with yours. There are many examples of successful brand collaborations, but look at the successful collaboration between drinks giant ‘Dr Pepper’ and a lip balm company. What’s the connection? ‘Dr Pepper’ flavoured lip balm. The campaign was a joint one; the lip balm company sold lip balms and Dr Pepper sold bottles and cans of drink. Both companies had their brand awareness enhanced and thus, two happy companies and happy customers. Some brands team with charities, other stick with non-competitors but close collaborators.
A revitalised, responsive marketing campaign provides a welcomed boost to your business.
In partnership with Colour Graphics - a print and design agency with two decades of experience working with businesses, large and small, to create effective offline marketing campaigns.