A quick Google for marketing advice, and you’ll receive a flurry of marketing buzzwords, influencers, and opinions from everyone and their mother coming at you from all directions, making it hard to cut through the noise and determine what your small business really needs.
If you have made it through coming up with a business plan and are passionate about your idea and structure, pat yourself on the back because you have done some of the most challenging work. A question we often hear is that now you have filed through your personal network and are in the place to expand your reach… how do you do that? The answer is digital marketing.
Why is digital marketing important? Check out some digital marketing stats from 2020, and you may understand why.
- 51% of shoppers surveyed say they use Google to research a purchase they plan to make online. (Think with Google)
- Until they have done their own research, 77% of B2B purchasers won’t speak to a salesperson. (Corporate Executive Board)
- Search traffic generated 65% of total e-commerce sessions, 33% was generated through organic search, and 32% was generated through paid search. (Statista)
- 85% of people trust online reviews written by other consumers as much as they trust recommendations from personal contacts. (Bright Local)
- IBM increased sales by 400% after implementing a social selling program. (IBM)
Well… are you convinced?
So, now you understand that you need a strong marketing plan and that a digital presence is usually the first step — how do you implement it? Digital marketing can be broad and scary without some direction. Here are some questions to first address before diving in:
- How do I define my small business?
- What type of customer am I trying to attract?
- How do I make my small business stand out?
- What type of media does my ideal customer consume?
If you cannot answer these, let’s break it down.
How do I define the unique offering of my small business?
Getting to the base of what you do will allow you to market your business and tell your story effectively. If you get started here and have more than one sentence or statement, you need to scale back. How you define your business should be succinct and to the point.
If you don’t know where to start, begin by writing down keywords that describe your small business. Start with 30, then remove ten, then remove another ten, then remove five until you have the top 5 keywords that describe what you do.
By simplifying your keywords, you are now closer to determining the business’s Unique Selling Proposition. The Unique Selling Proposition is what makes your brand or product uniquely valuable to your customers.
If you do not understand your business and your goals, how can you expect a customer to? The end-user of a product or service wants to be told what to do and how to feel. Ultimately, understanding your business means you need to also understand the customer you are trying to attract, which leads to our next question…
What type of customer am I trying to attract?
Finding your target audience may not be as obvious as it seems. Even companies as big as Coca-Cola and Microsoft have made mistakes when trying to understand their customer for a new product or service. Understanding the type of customer who wants your product or service takes time and research. Many companies are so ready to launch a product or service that they rush past these critical processes that allow them to figure out who they are trying to attract in the first place.
At the end of the day, a company is only as strong as its users, and to develop passionate users, you need to find who they are, where they are, and what they really need. Ask yourself, “Who was your product or service built for, and does the product or service developed really serve that audience?”
To find out the pain points your potential customer is experiencing, you can start with surveys, interviews, focus groups, samples, to name a few strategies. This will allow you to discover what makes your offering special and who actually will use it, not who you think will use it.
Having strong research findings that describe your audience will help you continue to sell your small business’s value to stakeholders as well.
How do I make my small business stand out?
Understanding what you do the best is the way to set yourself apart. Learning from your competitor’s past successes and failures can save you years of trial and error in figuring out your strengths.
To get started, make a list of your top competitors. Start with who you know, and then take to a search engine to see what else may be out there that you were not aware of. You can also take advantage of free tools like Google Adwords or SEMRush to gain an understanding of what your competitors are doing from a marketing perspective. Go ahead and stalk their website to see what they specialize in compared to what you do. Write all this down somewhere to keep at top of mind when making your digital marketing plan.
This information should help you better solidify your Unique Selling Proposition and empathy map to determine what pain points you can help to solve for this customer and what additional value (gains) you can provide.
What type of media does my ideal customer consume?
Once you know what your company is, who your audience is, and the competitors in the space, it is time to figure out how to reach them. The best place to start is to go to the source.
Start talking to your defined audience through social media, qualitative interviews, or email outreach to learn what they consume. Understanding where to reach your audience before testing your marketing strategy will save your team time, energy, money, and some sanity.
The answer may be strictly paid social advertising, google ads, content marketing, or maybe a mix of all. You will never know if you do not begin the research.
Now is the time to scale…
According to Statistica, in the U.S., e-commerce sales are expected to surpass $740 billion by 2023. The pandemic has only increased the amount of online shopping, resulting in an additional$174.87 billion in e-commerce revenue in 2020.
Clearly, it is more important in 2021 than ever before for small businesses to have a strong digital marketing presence.
For small businesses especially, expanding digital marketing efforts can allow companies to tell their story in their own words. And although your company may not be able to compete with the high media spend of large corporations, you can still be extremely successful with a strategic media spend focused on highlighting the Unique Selling Proposition discovered by getting to know your company, competitors, and audience.
Through digital marketing, a small business can get to know its customer, create more products or services that the customer actually wants, tailor its current offerings to those who will be using it, and most importantly, be accessible to the customer in the place where everyone is… the digital world.
If your organization needs help putting these steps into action, reach out, we can help.