One of the things I see small businesses struggling with is the pressure to do “everything” when it comes to online marketing.
There so many articles out there about online marketing. And then you have your colleagues and friends telling you about the great online marketing tool or strategy that’s working really well for them.
You’re pulled in all these different directions. You’re not sure where to go.
And the real trouble begins if you try to do them all to see what works. It’s good to experiment with things, but you never want to spread yourself too thin and that can happen with online marketing.
You put your effort into social media and about 10 different social networks and you never really give any of them a real chance.
That’s what this post is for. During my time I’ve seen what generally works best for small businesses when it comes to online marketing. If you’re going to give something a shot I recommend the following three things. You don’t have to invest a ton in each, but if you give them each an honest shot you’ll find something that will bring you new customers.
Let’s get into it.
1. Email Marketing
This one is often overlooked and yet it is arguably the most important for small businesses.
For example, social media is great, but with social media there are wild cards. You don’t own the platform and you don’t have control over the platform. You’ve probably been through a few Facebook changes where they change the layout, design and even the rules for communicating with your page followers.
With email marketing, you’re in control. You control the message. You control the frequency. You control just about everything. It’s usually a little more of a challenge to get people to subscribe to your email, but it’s very much worth it.
On your website, create a piece of content that your users will find helpful. Answer a common question your customers have with some kind of download guide or even a single page of answers to common questions. Then each month send out one tip relating to your industry. You have industry knowledge, share it with your customers. To you it’s nothing, but to them it’s very useful.
Then when you get new customers or even if you make new contacts, ask the person if you can add them to your email program. If they give you permission then add them.
2. Guest Content, Partner Content And PR
When you’re starting out with online marketing you usually have a very small audience or even no audience.
To get new customers you have to go where your customers are spending time online. Usually there is someone that is holding there attention. It might be another business that has an email program, blog, podcast or whatever.
Think of it like the music industry. When a new artist comes out they need to access existing audiences to build their own audience. So they do whatever they can to book as an opening act for an established artist.
That’s what you need to do. Find someone with a website and figure out a way to partner with them by providing content. You can provide a guest blog post. You can offer to create content with them where you even offer to do most of the work. A lot of people are co-hosting webinars. They can promote it to their audience and you can do the work to put it together.
Keep it useful. Don’t promote yourself. You’re just looking to get your name out there. Look to help the target audience.
This also leads into PR. Take opportunities to go on podcasts, interviews, etc. Share your story. Find podcasts with your target audience. See what content does best on the podcasts and give your pitch.
3. Content Marketing (For SEO And Social Media)
Finally, you know I’m bias on this one, but it really works. Ads are all over the Google results these days, but people are still clicking on the organic results more than the ads.
That’s on search.
On social media it’s the same thing. The networks are working in ads, which makes sense. That’s how they make money. But people still pay more attention to the organic listings.
How do you get those organic listings on search and social? You create content that answers the common questions your target customer has regarding your industry.
identify questions and provide answers at an industry level that your customer might have. They’ll find it via search and social and on social you can promote it.
With a blog post or whatever type of content you create you’re publishing something that you control. And it’s always published on your site. It’s not like an ad where it disappears the moment you stop paying for it.
These are the most effective ways I’ve used myself and that I’ve seen others use as small businesses. There isn’t much time and usually not a lot of marketing money to go around for online marketing things. Try the above things as your top priorities and they should have the most payoff for you. They may not all work, but if you try each of them you should find your niche; that little thing that will generate new business for your growing company.