Marketing and promotion are often overlooked but are absolutely essential for your small business to thrive and grow. It is a huge topic deserving of more than one piece. In this previous article, we covered how segmentation and targeting can help you more effectively reach your customers. In this blog we are moving to the next stage and looking at how a small business can choose the right promotion channels to be more effective and save money.
The first step after you have decided which segment of users to target is to create a buyer persona. If you are not sure about segmentation, please read the other article, otherwise, read on.
Buyer personas are a detailed breakdown of everything about your ideal buyer. What their challenges are? What they are interested in? How they want to be talked to? Where they go to find information? This is crucial for some more obvious reasons: if your target group is pensioners you are not going to refer to them as ‘Dude’ in your marketing materials and you are less likely to find them on TikTok.
But it is also really important for several other reasons:
Keeping you focused and on message – When you are engrossed in writing some great copy, or come across some cheap keywords that you are tempted to buy, sometimes, when you finish, you find you have gone off message. If you write it down and continually refer to it, it keeps you on track.
Choosing the right marketing channels – Writing down where your customers go to find information will allow you to target them properly, help you choose the right keywords to optimize your website and social posts, and it can help you to find interesting niches. For example, finding out that your customers all go to the local tennis club allows you an opportunity to see if you can put an ad in their bar.
It arms you with the information you need to build out more sophisticated marketing campaigns – You shouldn’t expect one piece of promotion is going to be enough; you will need to prepare marketing col laterals that address where your buyer is on each stage of their journey.
Finding messaging angles that your competitors missed – When I was helping a marketing consultancy promote shared office space for small businesses and startups, we first trawled through forums and review sites to help create our buyer personas. In doing so, we found a consistent wish for sound proofing that wasn’t mentioned on competitor websites, who were focused on Internet speed. We ran with the sound proofing messaging with ads and blogs, managing to generate a lot of leads. Of course, our competitors worked it out after a while, but that is inevitable. The important thing was that, while they could also pay for ads, it took a long while for them to catch up in terms of organic ranking.
Choosing Promotion Channels
Once you written down your buyer persona, the next step is to choose your marketing channels and plan everything out. Promotion costs money so it is important to dig deeper and assess the channels open to you. Below are some tips:
We already mentioned above that the benefits of doing those buyer personas is to understand where your customers can be found. However, I just wanted to quickly give some other examples – If you are running a hair salon or designing your own jewelry, you should be promoting on Instagram or Pinterest. If you are selling to larger businesses, then a LinkedIn presence is key, while if your target is smaller business and consumers then Facebook may be the the best choice.
Similarly, if your target most likely to be on mobile or a desktop, you can set up your ads accordingly.
Research for Your Industry
Search around and find any statistics for the most successful marketing channels for your business sector. While the types of channels businesses use have many similarities, there are plenty of marketing reports that breakdown these channels down on a sector by sector basis.
As part of that research you can look at where your competitors are advertising. If they are a successful competitor then that information helps you choose the right channels, but also informs you of the difficulty of competing.
Digital Versus Traditional
It might well be that your buyer personas research tells you that it has to be online or offline. If not, and you are left with a choice, then you can think about the competitiveness of one versus the other to help make a decision.
Go to Google Keyword Planner, or Facebook or LinkedIn’s ad planner, and look at the competition for keywords, demographics, and times you want to target, whether that is from advertising or organically through blogging. If those keywords are extremely expensive, then perhaps doing a traditional mail drop will result in you achieving your aims. A well-designed flyer with the correct messages may get picked up and passed around the office, getting you at least one brand exposure.
Bear in mind that the success of digital ads is their scalability and the analytical information you get back. When you make a flyer or advertise in a print newspaper – or even to get someone to stand on the high street with a big banner – you have relatively larger upfront costs and it is harder to measure brand exposure. Customers may have noticed your brand but unless they then contact you and tell you how they found out about you, it is hard to know what is working. If you do Facebook or Google Ads, you get much more information on which keywords and demographics clicked on your ad, enabling you to adjust or cancel spending very quickly.
Organic versus Paid
While other channels can prove to be successful, surveys show that Google search is the most used way to find information. It is therefore understandable that it is the goal of any business to get their website on the coveted first page of search results. You can appear on that first page in either the organic search results or pay to get your ad there.
How you get yourself listed organically on the first page is worth several articles in itself – the topic is SEO – however, to quickly summarise, it involves creating amazing content that readers share, and for which Google rewards you by then placing you at the top of the rankings. If you succeed it can create a steady flow of traffic to your website; however, it was it drawbacks:
Unfortunately, everyone is doing the same, so you have to find keywords that are not so competitive and create a lot of very good content.
Organic needs longer as it takes time to move up the rankings.
It also, contrary to the term organic, which suggests free, can cost you a lot of money to create that content: someone has to write, or design, it and then share it; salaries are not free.
Paid ads can get you in front of your customer from day one at the top of the page, but the moment you turn them off, you turn off the leads. The best strategy is to do both: ads for short term revenue and work on SEO for your long-term ranking.
Promotion costs money and when you start out you won’t have any reviews or brand reputation. A way to resolve that is partnerships, resellers or affiliates. If you are setting up as a cleaner, why not go to a successful handyman or gardener in the area and offer an incentive to introduce your services. Similarly, if you sell web design, link up with an SEO company.
Your brand will be key to adding value to your business. In most cases, people search and evaluate with their head and then take a decision with their heart. You will have a competitor, and it might well be that there is simply nothing between you and them. If that is the case, potential customers may look at your logo, your website, how you write, the quality of images on your website or collaterals to make a decision on whose services to use. In other words, make a decision based on your brand.
You can build a high-quality website without any coding skills with website builder software like Wix. There are also numerous marketplaces like 99Designs where you can get a logo and other branding items done fairly cheaply.
Understanding the Buyer Journey
Buyer personas and understanding the market are crucial because of the buyer journey. There are variations to this, but it basically contains four key components: awareness, interest, consideration, and decision.
At the awareness stage you you need to alert your customers to the fact that they have a problem that can be solved. They then move on to the interest stage, where they are thinking about if they really want to invest to solve their problem using your solution. In the consideration stage they have decided they want your solution and are evaluating you and your competitors. Then, at the final stage, they need to be pushed over the line.
I have mentioned this because each stage needs different types of content and you need to prepare it. Whether you need to prepare for each stage will depend upon you products and business. If you have created a new solution, not available in the market, you will need to first convince potential customers they need the product. It won’t work to go straight ahead and put out ads promoting the features of the product. Whereas, if you are an electrician everyone knows they will need one at some point, so your collaterals should primarily focus on your reviews, trustworthiness, and pricing.
At the same time, if you want to market more effectively, you will need to get contact information for potential customers, identify where they are on that buyer journey, and try to nudge them along it with more helpful content.
You can find more information on the buyer journey and the right content for every stage by googling, buyer journey funnel.
It is possible, but most of your customers won’t come onboard with just one touch from your brand. They will need a multitude of exposures, and, because of this, you should have campaigns that are multi-channel – If you put a Facebook ad, then follow it up with a mail drop, and then a phone call.
The goal during this process should be to get an email address as it is the most cost-effective way of keeping your brand in front of your potential customers. If you are a B2B business you can get that email address by offering useful downloadable content behind a sign-up form. If you are B2C, you can offer free trials, giveaways, competitions.
Once you have their email you can nurture them over a period of time.
Freelancer Marketplace Sites
There are a multitude of sites for freelancers: professional services have sites like Upwork, while tradespeople can go to Checkatrade. They have their pros and cons. On the plus side, many consumers prefer to go here to look to a marketplace site for a supplier because there are many reviews, and it saves time searching around and having to do your own due diligence. As a supplier, you get to present your services without having to spend a lot of money on promotion, but it is extremely competitive and you have to pay the site a cut of your work.
If you feel more comfortable doing your own promotion, you can potentially earn more without joining these sites. However, you will have to build up those reviews independent through your Google Business Listing or working with someone like Trustpilot.
It is essential to think about price in all these activities. What can you reasonably spend to get yourself a customer? How much is an effective multi-channel campaign going to cost? This is so important because there is nothing worse than spending a load of money, getting half way with you customers, and then running out of money.
Hoof Payment Solution
Once you have completed the above your biggest worry will become managing all your customer payments. Hoof’s payment solution makes it so much easier to get more sales and manage those payments.