Uhg, marketing… A sentiment that a lot of small business owners share when they give thoughts to questions that surround growth, how to get more customers, how do I get more sales etc. The fact of the matter is, while marketing is an absolute MUST for every business, most small businesses sacrifice that component. The reasons vary from I don’t have the time to it’s too expensive to the most common reason…. I don’t know what to do.
Here’s the in your face truth. When it comes to marketing, you need to make sure you’re doing all these little things right in order to make the big wheel turn. I’ll give you an analogy.
If you’re building a house, what’s the first step you take? That would be the foundation. From there the walls go up, the windows get installed, door, floors and then the roof. All these things make the house. Marketing follows a similar principle in that there is foundational work to be done before you start to tackle other elements that make a full rounded strategy.
But what makes a full marketing strategy? What do you include so that you are doing things “right”?
How about we just dive in so that you can start thinking and building a strategy for your business.
1. Start with a Website
FACT… A website is absolutely necessary for your small business. This is where people will go to learn more about your products or services and ultimately decide if you are offering a solution to a problem or situation they face. Your website is the ultimate hub of information about your business, and so you want to make sure that you have all the relevant information on there for people to discover. Websites may seem intimidating but they really aren’t if you plan things accordingly.
Think of what you offer and the benefits people can expect. Think of the pages you would like to include in your website and the information you would like to share on those pages. If we use the house building analogy from above, the structure of a website might look something like this.
Home Page: We build houses
Page 1: Foundation
Page 2: Walls
Page 3: Windows
Page 4: Roofs
Page 5: Contact Us
This is a crude example, but as you can see, we break things down from the overall service into sections which form the pages of our site for people to explore and learn more about which inturn, creates engagement.
There are a lot of tools out there you can use such as Wix that provide DIY website development which will allow you to customize your site to your desire.
2. Focus On Local
Chances are, your small business caters to local customers or community and therefore has a narrow focus. The next thing you want to do is set up your Google Business profile.
A Google Business profile is a very valuable piece in your marketing strategy because it allows you to provide snapshot information for people such as your address, your business hours and your products/service. It also allows you to gather those ultra valuable reviews that people love so much. Research shows that over 80% of people who are looking online will check out Google Business Profiles and read reviews prior to engaging with a business. At the same time, it also allows you to add in keywords that are related to your business so that, when someone searches those keywords, you have the opportunity to really stand out by occupying more real estate at the top of Google. Bear in mind however, that this is an ongoing process and results may not be immediate.
3. Set up Social Media For Your Business
Social media is a game changer for small businesses because it allows you to directly communicate with your audience. Be selective though because not every network will be appropriate for your business. A woodworker who makes birdhouses would want to be on Facebook and Instagram showcasing their work, but it doesn’t necessarily make sense for them to be on Twitter, for example. The beautiful thing about social media is that people can get to know you, the business owner, through various posts that you publish. This brings a humanized and personal component to your brand that offers a refreshing take on marketing. Think of a tone that you would like to use and incorporate it into your messaging so it lines up with your target audience.
4. Learn About Search Engine Optimization
Ok… This is where things tend to fall off the rails for a lot of people, and it’s not surprising as to why… It can be complicated.
Search Engine Optimization, commonly known as SEO, is the practice of telling search engines not only what your website is about, but what each page of your website is about also. Understand that search engines don’t see your website like we see them. All they see is the code in which the site was developed, and so they need to be able to learn about you and your business through the code. Still with me???
Within the code of your website, you have something called metadata, and this is where you start your introduction by telling search engines things like the title of your page as well as the description of what that page is about. But how do you know what to put in there? This is where keyword research comes into play. Think of your product and /or service and the various keywords that are related to it. Make a list and research them through keyword analysis tools that you can find online to get an idea of search volume. You can also use Google Trends as another tool to get insights on the keywords you have.
Know that there’s A LOT more to SEO than this, but at the risk of boring you stiff, we’ll just leave this here for now.
5. Think About Blogging
Blogging isn’t entirely fun for everyone unless you enjoy writing, but it does have a specific use when it comes to a marketing strategy. For one, blogging allows you to focus on a specific topic relevant to your business and dive deeper into that topic with the end goal of providing some education component to your audience. In addition, search engines love fresh content on websites, and so you will be appeasing them along the way. But one of the main reasons why blogging can help you, is the fact that you now have additional pages on your site. Taking your new found love interest for SEO, you can optimize these new pages with keywords/phrases that are different from the keywords/phrases used when you initially built your website (be careful not to duplicate keyword usage on your site though).
Here’s an analogy I use often with my clients. Think of your website as a fishing net. As you add more pages from the blogs you write or have written, your website gets bigger, thus your fishing net gets bigger, and you are able to gather more traffic through different pages of your site. The reason for this is because they all have different topics and keywords that match more search values people are using, otherwise known as search intent.
Want some ideas on what to write about? Start typing something in Google that is relevant to your business, and see what their suggested searches are. This is a great way to line up your content with search intent.
6. Paid Advertising
Keeping to the theme of complexity, if you have just launched your business or your website is brand new, you won’t be generating any traffic anytime soon. SEO efforts can take months to produce any results, which doesn’t help you out in terms of generating traffic immediately. Enter, paid ads!
Paid ads are a great way to generate instant traffic to your site because it uses specific keywords that trigger your ad. Remember how we were discussing keywords/phrases for your SEO efforts? The same keywords/phrases can be used with ads as well, and will help you understand their performance so that you can determine if you have the right mix on your own website. Google Ads, for example, has a Keyword Planner within their ads platform that you can use to discover new keywords, get insight into various trends, and understand the volume of searches per month in a given region for any given search term so that you can make an educated decision when it comes to planning your ads campaign.
Word to the wise though… if you are new to Google Ads, it’s recommended that you seek professional assistance or advice. Google Ads is complex and has many variables to consider. If you are unsure of what you are doing, it could cost you a lot of money.
Personally, I think this is a good amount of information for now. I could go on and on about the little nuances that should be incorporated in your strategy, but baby steps. Speaking of strategy, the word “strategy” may sound intimidating or complex, but it really isn’t. Developing and executing a proper marketing strategy means that you have given your business a fighting chance for survival or an opportunity for it to grow. It’s one of those things that you may not understand and therefore have no interest in, but you can’t downplay its importance.
There are many resources online that can help you along the way in understanding everything that’s involved, but don’t try to swallow it whole. Instead, take small bites in your education. Start with one thing and learn that, and when you’re ready, move on to the next thing. Once you understand it, I bet you’ll enjoy it and start to come up with other ideas you would like to try. Always keep in mind that marketing is a marathon, not a race, and it takes time to discover the right mix. However long that journey may be, have fun with it cause it will benefit you and your business in the end.