Creating a marketing strategy for your small business is not an easy task. Many people fail, but many people succeed.
Small businesses may have the advantage of flexibility that big companies don't. But without marketing strategy, small businesses would not be able to survive as well as big companies. Tapping into your potential, despite your industry, location or personality, you can use the internet to be an effective medium for your campaign.
It is overwhelming to know where to start. Marketing is a continuous effort, so there is no saying when to end before it actually ends.
Before you think about anything else, the first thing you should do is build your brand. Many small companies don't have a brand, and that means that they don't stand for something. Before you craft your marketing strategy, you first need a brand.
Define Your Brand in a Story
A brand should represent something. And that something is what will sell your name to your potential customers. Think about an origin story, and answer: Why did you start your business? What do you like about it? What is your mission? How do you define your goals?" and so forth.
Do a research about your potential customers and see what they like. Dig all the information you need to know in order to understand why they should choose you and not your competitors.
After you know where your brand stands and how other people see you, the next thing is to peek into the competition and see how well they are doing, how do they market their business, what don't they have that you do have, and vice versa.
By having all the information, you can compile them into a story to define and develop your own brand. The insight of your a wide knowledge about your origin story, the competitor research, the customer research and the consumer research. This will in turn heighten brand awareness and potential recruits/clients.
Content to Sell, Content to Attract
In order to have an online presence, your may want to create several social accounts. But to create a professional presence, what you do need is a professional website.
Although most small businesses have websites, they don't usually uncover their massive potential. It's essential that you take a look at your own business website, and see it in your customers' point-of-view. Seeing your website through the eyes of your customers will make you understand the impact of your contents and how your brand brings out your business mission.
Your website is the mirror of your business on the web. Your business website is useless if it doesn't have all the necessary information for people to contact you. Basically, your website should describe what you do, what you sell, and how does your business associate itself to its services and/or products.
Whether you use your website's content to drive traffic, or to sell it, you need to understand the terms you consumers are speaking. If your website and your consumers are not on the same lane, your effort in driving organic traffic via content marketing strategy will be next to useless. The more you can tap into your website's potential, either by internet marketing, SEO, etc., the more effective your business is in increasing leads.
When content is in the center, your brand should be the thing that drives it.
Aim for Search Engines
In term of online marketing world, content is king.
As a small business with limited resources, your website depends heavily on search engines to drive traffic. Without good and unique contents, search engines won't be able to drive visitors to your site.
Building your content marketing strategy isn't an easy task. You need to to create contents that people actually need, not only things that they like. You can solve problems, for example, or give them reasons for them to keep coming back. Contents are made for the sake of it, and focusing on the theme is important.
Aim for Social Media Networks
The importance of social media networks in improving business processes should never be underestimated. As more and more people are using the network to connect with other people, businesses that thrive in it are those that can engage successfully with consumers and successful in building brand loyalty.
You're going to need a number of unique content, a bunch of images, or a list of deals in order to have a social marketing strategy. It's easier for you to start by first creating a catalog of resources you need before attempting a social network marketing attempt.
Always use the appropriate social platform that best fit your company's mission. For example, Twitter and LinkedIn are often better for B2B, while Facebook is more used to B2C.
Aiming for social media networks come after aiming for search engines. The reason for this is because you first need contents to attract people, and the best way to place it is none other than your own professional website. Creating a marketing strategy by not linking to websites is possible, but your brand won't be a independent.
Expanding the Reach
A great content posted inside well-crafted and well-designed website. SEO and keywords strategy all in place. If you're not relying on the internet to drive sales, you may stop. But if you use the internet for marketing, your work is far from over.
The next thing to do is start to reach out to those people you want to aim with your marketing strategy.
This part is the most difficult part, and can be overwhelming for small businesses. With so many competitors out there, the internet is not a friendly place to be. As a small business, you need to put your limited resources into a good use, and pursue the closest, step-by-step, to the furthest.
Aim those wi the biggest ROI, if you're thinking of revenue. Or target those with the biggest influence, if you want your business awareness to expand faster.
Aim for the Locals
There is no better place to start expanding your reach other than your neighborhood. As a small business that uses the internet to drive traffic, investing in efforts to target people in your area is lot cheaper and a lot easier. Potential customers usually like things that are closer to them because they are more familiar with everything that comes with it.
While there's the initial time investment to get it set up, there's a minimal time investment needed to keep it up-to-date.
Engage in Email
Email is not as popular as it used to be, but email is always seen as a more professional approach than most others.
Because it's not widely popular in the Web 2.0 era, email marketing doesn't have that attractiveness to get new customers as good as it was before. But it's a great strategy for small businesses that are trying to increase brand loyalty.
Each email sent on your business behalf, should contain a value. And that value is added in every aspect of the email body for making it effective. You may send text email if you're not used to HTML emails, but always put your contact information, and make sure that your email is clear and clean.
Keep on Promoting
There is no end in marketing, until the very end. To maximize your marketing potential, and to be able to compete with the evergrowing competition, promotion attempts is an ongoing process. You need to engage with others in all aspects that include: publications, content features, new products and/or services, and many more.
Most small businesses don't usually do this because of their limited resources. But with this kind of promotion, your brand and organic traffic will grow. It's necessary to invest at least a portion of your effort and resources as this can actively build relationship with other businesses, and not just customers.
Positioning as the "place where people can have their problems solved", can create a network and relationship which aren't necessarily online first. Your brand will grow, and so as the result of your marketing strategy.
The last thing to remember is "be human". Humanize your brand to build trust, because no matter how good technology is in aiding communications and interactions, the end users are still humans. Your consumers are humans and so are you.
Monitor and Analyze
As the internet continues to grow, more users are online and more businesses are becoming your potential competitors. This makes the internet unpredictable.
You can catch a glimpse of what's happening on your market, catching the information about what your consumers need, peeking into your competitors' performance, and so forth, by monitoring the web constantly. Analyze the data in order to create your next marketing strategy.
If your current strategy works well on you, there is no saying that the same strategy will work again in the future. Inspect any aspects that the internet may say. Opt-in to services that can give you insights to more data, use website analytics to understand the flow of your traffic, tap into the sources and understand how they directed traffic to you, etc..
Marketing can be easier to say than done. In details, there are tons of aspects to be considered, and some strategy may work for others, but not for you.
There's certainly a lot that goes into marketing for any size company in any industry, but it can be particularly overwhelming for small businesses which have limited time and resources. It'll be a lot of work, but if you can work your way one step at a time, you can make it more manageable.