It’s a new year and for many people that means a fresh start. That could mean resolving to lose weight (we’ve all been there, right?) or stopping a bad habit. That is great for individuals, but what about for your business? There is no better time to plan a fresh start that could help you grow your business in 2017 and beyond. But for many small business owners, they don’t think about the new year as a fresh business start.
What is your excuse for not making this time a fresh start for your business?
Don’t have the time?
Make time before it is too late.
Don’t know how to make the change?
Find someone who does know how.
Afraid to fail?
You can’t succeed if you don’t try.
Progress does not happen without change.
Don’t have the resources?
Get creative…where there is a will, there is a way!
Don’t let excuses get in the way of a successful 2017.
There has been a major shift in marketing in the last several years from ‘selling’ to ‘telling’. Consumers have become more savvy and are no longer keen to traditional marketing tactics. One of the ways to reach your customers is to be real…authentic. How do you do it?
Leave your body. Figuratively, at least. You are the subject matter expert for your business, but that is not always a good thing when you are trying to create content for non-subject matter experts. You need to avoid using technical or industry jargon. If you need to, have someone that you trust who does not work in your industry read your content before you post it.
Don’t stock up. When creating visuals, try to use ‘real’ photography instead of stock images. If you are a restaurant, hire a photographer to take some nice photos of your food. If you have a storefront, use photos from your actual store of your actual products. Use real people in your photos (make sure to get consent). Take photos and videos of your staff enjoying themselves or talking about your business or products.
Don’t do it. Let me clarify…don’t do it yourself. Give creative license to your business’ advocates, your loyal employees and customers. That is the most authentic content you can find. It gives them a sense of ownership and a bit of the spotlight.
Tell a story. People do not want to be sold to. They want to be given all of the information they need to make a decision on their timeline in their own way. Weave your story and sprinkle in information about your product or service. People respond better if they hear a story rather than a sales pitch.
Be human. This is probably the hardest thing for business owners and marketers to do (ironically!). Write like a person, not like a business. It brings a sense of personal touch to your content.
If you are going to change to a more authentic approach, do it slowly so you don’t throw your followers for a loop. Find the ‘voice’ that works best for your business by testing different phrases, words and imagery.
One of the newest tools to invade digital marketing is bots. The platform that is making the most use this new tool is Facebook with their Messenger mobile app.
Haven’t heard of bots? Bots are a type of algorithm that are powered by AI (artificial intelligence). Developers can create bots to perform any number of tasks – from quizzes to news feeds to placing orders and more. They can be used as assistants to send you the latest weather or remind you to take the trash out every week.
Want to play around with some? Open your Facebook Messenger app and click in the Search bar. Under your most recent People contacts, you will see suggested bots (note, these are not ALL the bots – Facebook now has more than 11,000!).
Check out the Emoji News app and get the last news presented with emojis.
Or play hangman against a bot with the Hangman bot.
Check out your favorite sports league with the NFL, NBA or MLB bots. You name it, there is probably a bot for it.
So what does this mean for you and your business? Does your research show that your customers are mobile-first? Do you normally perform routine tasks with those customers? Perhaps a bot could be a way for you to interact with them in a new way. You should examine if this new tool should be added to your digital marketing toolbox.
Anybody these days can design a website using tools that are freely available. But do you really want your nephew David creating your website? The website for your business that you pour your heart and soul into? I think the answer is No. Before you decide on a web design firm here are some questions that you should ask during the interview process:
What is your process that you use to develop a website?
What platforms do you build websites on?
What are your security protocols?
What is the experience of the team that will working on my site?
What is your pricing structure?
You should also ask for references and client names. Look up their work and see if they produce sites with variety; if they have done work for companies similar to yours and if they create dynamic sites. Don’t limit yourself to a design firm that can do a website for a low cost. The saying ‘you get what you pay for’ applies to building your website. Determine the value you will get versus what your budget will allow.
Depending on your business, the audience that you should be targeting might not be your actual customers. It could be the people who influence the purchasing behaviors of your customers. And your audience pool may not be as big as you think. For small businesses, it is prudent to focus on the people that will provide you with the most value for your investment in your marketing communications. There are several data points that you should take into consideration when defining your audience:
Geography – do you have a physical location that relies on walk-in traffic or an internet storefront that can sell to anyone?
Demographics – is your product or service intended for a specific age-range of individual? Or for males vs females?
Cost – are your products high-end or priced for the average consumer?
Psychographics – do your products cater to individuals with certain purchasing behaviors or lifestyles?
There is a new company – Agency Geek – that is looking to match your needs for marketing services with just the right agency. Consider it a matchmaking service for your company. Forget creating and sending out RFPs, just enter your information and Agency Geek’s 100-point algorithm will match you with just the right agency. Whether you are looking for a good PR firm, a web designer or a full outsourced marketing team, they have the hook-up.
So this week’s Marketing Question of the Week is: Would you use a service to match your needs with an agency?
Have you see the commercials about the new car that Domino’s Pizza is rolling out? Yes, I said a car. By a pizza company. This is not a car you can buy, it is one that their delivery people will be using. They have dubbed it the DXP.
What is so special about this car? Well, as their website explains, there is a built in warming oven that keeps your pizza hot. And a built in cooler that keeps you drinks cold.
So this week’s Marketing Question of the Week is “Does Domino’s DXP give it a competitive advantage?”
According to Forbes1, the most valuable brands in the world are:
Are there any that you don’t recognize? I doubt it. What makes these brands so valuable? There are a number of variables that go into strong brands.
Consistency – No matter whether you are looking at a product package, their social media account or a television ad, these brands will have a similar look and feel across platforms. That is why you recognize the logos above – you have seen them over and over again.
Purpose – Every good brand has a purpose. And that purpose often evokes emotion. This is often manifested through their mission and vision. It is the reason they exist (other than to make money). For example, Google’s mission is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”2
Loyalty – Every one of the brands above has loyal customers. Customers that would not buy from a competitor. Just look at the loyalists that choose Android over Apple or vice versa. And increasingly, companies (particularly tech companies) are finding ways to make their products even more a part of your lives (think cars powered by Apple or Android).
Social media has been on an almost vertical trajectory for the past 5 years…booming faster than most people can keep up with it. But many social media sites are experiencing slowing or flat user growth. And companies can no longer rely on ‘organic’ social media engagement. Paid posts are almost always required when attempting to reach customers via these channels.
Does that mean that you should not utilize social media as part of your marketing strategy?
For small businesses that have a very targeted customer base or have a retail location that they are looking to promote, social media is still a good option. The caveat is that you need to be dedicated to keeping up with it. If you have a strong, loyal following that is willing to help share your content, it is even better. After all, it is socialmedia!
However, social media should not be your only channel for communicating with your current and potential customers. It should be part of an integrated marketing approach that fits your business’s needs.
And you also need to keep up with social media trends. What are the latest features on Facebook Pages? Is there a social media site that caters to your typical customer? If you need help figuring it all out, contact me.
If you pay any attention to social media, you have heard of Pinterest. It is the hottest new site for sharing with your friends. The concept is fairly simple. You can create ‘boards’ that are akin to physical bulletin boards. On each board, you can post ‘pins’ which can consist of photos or links to websites.
Great! But does your small business need to have a presence on this hot website? That depends. There are a number of reasons that you should consider this:
Your business relies heavily on ecommerce. Research has shown that referrals from Pinterest lead to larger checkout orders than other social media sites. If you are trying to drive people to your website to sell products, make sure that you have nice, clear photos for your pins.
Your business customers fit the Pinterest user profile. 67% of users are under the age of 40. 54% of women aged 34-55 are on Pinterest—35% of them have a household income over $100K. Male monthly users have grown 120% this year.
You want to know what your customers are looking for. Pinterest can help inform you of emerging trends as users tend to pin items that they are thinking about purchasing.
There are a lot of benefits to marketing on Pinterest, but only if it is a fit for your business.