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When it comes to marketing, A LOT has changed over the last decade.
Most small businesses do their own marketing because they either can't hire a big firm, aren't interested in managing an employee (or paying for one) or no one is providing services that fit their niche & company size.
We understand that not all businesses believe they are ready to outsource their marketing, so before we go into the DIY, let's talk about what it's going to take first.
What it's going to take?
We don't tell anyone how to complete a project without telling them the tools & resources it's going to take to produce it up front.
1) You will need to carve out a budget: I know, this one is always a big challenge as small businesses don't necessarily have a war chest of funds sitting around waiting to be earmarked for use. It means you may need to shift priorities (move funds from buying furniture for the office this month to getting business in the door for example).
2) You will need to have a plan: Marketing plans are a blend of art and science. You need to understand how marketing works from a technical standpoint, but also have the "creative chops" to implement a strategy that stands out and provides you with the biggest bang for your buck!
3) You will need to spend some time (a lot of time): This is the single biggest resource that SMB doesn't have. Most of us are fully competent to implement a passable marketing strategy, we are all capable of finding a few bucks to initiate it, but we simply don't have the time available. And when you're learning how to develop your own marketing products using tools that you may be unfamiliar with (Like movie editing, photography/film, blogging platforms, email automation, web development, graphics design, etc), you find that it takes a lot of time just to learn how to create the content.
Here's how you do it
1) Do some introspection
• Clarify identity: You want to make sure you (and your employees) are all on the same page as it relates to the purpose and mission of the company. This requires things like a tagline and some concrete organizational goals. Knowing who you are helps your clients quickly understand your value proposition.
• Past Marketing: If you've been in business a while, look back and see what works and what doesn't. This information is invaluable for targeting a specific audience and determining what has a likelihood for success.
• Demographics: If you're new, then you'll focus on your target audience and how your product/service appeals to that group. Once you know who you sell to, do some research on where/how that group buys.
2) Create a Strategy
• Use the S.M.A.R.T. method of marketing. You want to be SPECIFIC, MEASURABLE, ACHIEVABLE, REALISTIC, TRACKABLE. I've even put together a worksheet for you to download for free!
• Define a Budget: You will want to define a budget, typically between 10% - 20% of your sales are recommended to re-invest toward the growth of your business. Out of this percentage, you'll carve it up between multiple marketing/advertising/brand management activities.
• Create a Social Media Calendar: You don't want to be a stream of consciousness, company communications should be on-message and with intention.
3) Content, Content, Content
• Create the Useful & Unique content: This takes many forms like VLOG/Blog, video productions, white papers, "calculators" & web tools, podcasts, etc. You want to create a "watering hole" to which your clients/prospects come to.
• Compelling testimonials: A testimonial is incredibly powerful, like "Learn how my client earned $50,000 within 1 month of learning my program!
4) Increase Awareness
• Guerrilla marketing: Belly-2-Belly marketing activities, networking events, speaking engagements, mailers, handshakes, business cards, etc. These activities borderline business development, however they are essential to increasing brand awareness and should be reinforced by back end marketing efforts (a message based on a purpose, a consistent theme & supporting documents). There's nothing worse than having B.D. efforts fail due to poor messaging when the prospect goes to research your organization.
• Advertising: Create a client profile that fits your product/service (male, 45-60, $90k+ income, etc) and target those specific audiences with paid campaigns. This doesn't have to be a $10k spend, even small campaigns to verify pull-through rate before a heavy investment
5) Automate the Follow-up • Email Drip Campaigns: Mail Chimp, Constant Contact, Agile CRM and many other companies can help you set up professional drip campaigns that automate the follow-up process (the #1 problem for most companies is letting leads slip). You need to ensure the flow of emails is engaging and gets them to "raise their hand" for more information.
• Retargeting Campaign: You should always re-target those people who click on your ad but do not give you their info. This shows you there is interest, but the offer wasn't quite compelling enough.
• Advertising Effectiveness: In marketing, "If you can't measure it, it doesn't exist". You must always determine which campaigns are creating the most impact (add resources to those) and note which campaigns are struggling (pull resources from those). You'll create more efficiency with your marketing dollars!
Course correction is a big key to an effective advertising/marketing campaign, but you can't correct if you don't know the data. So make sure you're implementing the right tools to measure.
About the Author: Having founded a successful network security start-up, Brandon Bain has over a decade of experience in developing comprehensive digital marketing strategies for a wide variety of industries. With a background in marketing & business development, Brandon is uniquely able to create effective communication action plans that drive financial results. Brandon’s expertise in brand management, thought leadership and corporate communications is built on his passionate commitment for purpose-driven organizational goals. Brandon believes that, "When you love the process, the results will take care of themselves".