It's easy to get lost in the seemingly endless number of options to market and promote your small business. Perhaps you have heard about Twitter for ages, but you haven't so much as tried to sign up for an account, not knowing its true worth. You don't know if traditional marketing tactics will work for you, but you don't know too much about other avenues, either. Luckily, I'm here to shed some light on your options as a small business owner.
The landscape is widespread: bookmarking websites like StumbleUpon, smartphones with mobile apps, Facebook, and so on. How do you know what to use to ramp up your company's marketing presence?
First, define your goals. What are you trying to get out of social media? Are you trying to generate leads, share content, or create new relationships?
Second, choose a platform that fits. If your business is culinary, design, or beauty-based, you could benefit greatly from using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and even Tumblr. Businesses that don't rely on up-to-the-minute trends and creative photos and images (most manufacturers, for example) wouldn't benefit as much from Instagram or Pinterest.
Third, ask yourself if you are going to create a position based around social media, or if you are going to do the posting yourself. Think about the time it takes to form relationships and build a following. If your business is doing well, most likely you need to hire an expert who can dedicate his or her day to the many networking opportunities that revolve around social media. Develop an editorial calendar to plan when posts go up, or manage your social media content stream through a platform such as Hootsuite.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Naturally, you want your company to be found online, preferably high up in Google Search. If you want to establish your brand, SEO is the way to go. SEO is simply integrated digital marketing that allows you to identify keywords and optimize content to improve the visibility of your website. To this end, measurable link-building and the creation of quality viral content are respectable marketing tactics that work. Scheming and spamming never get any company anywhere in the long run.
SEO’s return on investment (ROI) fluctuates as PPC (see below) rises and falls, and organic search results are more trusted than paid advertising.
That’s why SEO is more worthwhile over time.
PPC (Pay Per Click)
PPC marketing provides instant results because it generates visitors quickly and also lets you measure your budget and ROI appropriately. Becoming well-versed in Google AdWords helps your company take full advantage of the potential benefits of PPC marketing.
Have you already established your brand? PPC is terrific for companies looking for another avenue to continue to build their business. If your first method is already working, PPC can open up your company to additional leads, at a cost. You will see these leads quickly -- in some cases instantly, as soon as the campaign is activated. The customers who click on PPC ads know what they want; they don't want the trouble of a time-consuming Web search. PPC ads transport these customers directly to a page where they can purchase what they need. This avenue helps your company build brand awareness, collect impressions, and open doors to obtaining valuable new leads.
Don’t underestimate the power of email. From viral email campaigns to weekly eBlasts, many emails are opened consistently due to factors such as subject line, quality, and deployment time. Customers come to look forward to worthwhile content that makes its way to their inbox. Do your research, give the audience what they want, and see profits rise.
Without content marketing, a website can easily get lost in the shuffle. Many would say that you don't need a social media strategy or an SEO strategy as much as you need a content strategy.
Although content marketing includes quality-written Web content and social media maintenance, it also includes blogs, eBooks, webinars, white papers, and a variety of other outlets. The key is to engage with your core customers on a level that they relate to, a level that promotes action from their end.
When it comes down to it, it's pretty simple: Know your audience, establish a plan, and test, test, test to see what works for your small business.
What marketing tactics have been most useful to you and your business?