Running a small business is not for the faint of heart. Business owners out of necessity are forced to wear many hats. Whether its developing a new product or service, keeping track of finances or going on a sales call, many small business warriors are stretched thin.
Lost among the many important day-to-day tasks is developing a coherent and functional online marketing strategy. While vitally important to the success of a small business, marketing is an often overlooked function by worn out small business owners.
If your online strategy is not consistently developing qualified leads that can be converted into sales, you are missing out on one of the most powerful elements of online marketing and your business is probably suffering as a result.
Here are five ways to kick start your company’s online marketing efforts. These tips will take some dedicated attention, but may perhaps be the most valuable allocation of your busy time this year.
Get to know your audience
One of the best ways to jump start your sales is to get to know your audience. Who are your ideal clients? Who gives you the most pleasure to serve and who adds the best results to your bottom line? Who are your biggest time wasters? Which clients take up most of your time and provide little benefit to your bottom line?
One of the best exercises is to grab a few members of your team and create a buyer persona for your ideal customer. A buyer persona is a fictionalized picture of your ideal client that once created will help you to target your marketing efforts to your most profitable potential clients.
Learning who your best customers are and where they hang out online will allow you to tailor your online offers and content so that you can attract more of the customers you want, and stay away from your biggest headaches.
Many companies have multiple personality types or targets, so you may need more than one buyer persona for your marketing efforts.
Evaluate your current website
Google estimates that more than 1 Trillion web searches are performed each year. Of those 1 Trillion searches, at least some of them are being performed for the product or service that your business has to offer.
Is your current website set up to capitalize on that search volume? When someone comes onto your site, is your unique value proposition clearly communicated?
Is your ideal customer likely to be interested in your offering or are your visitors clicking away after a few seconds?
One way to answer this last question is to evaluate your Google Analytics account for the bounce rate of your website. You do have a Google Analytics account don’t you?
If the answer to any of these questions is no or you don’t know what Google Analytics is, it may be time for a redesign of your website.
Develop some content
The world of marketing a small business has changed. The yellow pages are a thing of the past, cold calling is about as welcome as a trip to your proctologist, and even for large companies, intrusive commercials are skipped over with the press of a button on your remote control.
What is a company to do?
Think content marketing. Set up a blog, write an eBook that solves a customer problem or create a buyer’s guide. These are all examples of content marketing that can improve the experience on your website and get you found with organic search on the search engines.
Organic search results are listings on search engine results pages that appear because of their relevance to the search terms, as opposed to their being advertisements. This is a good thing, because it means people are finding you through searches that you are not paying for.
Creating high impact content will allow you to capitalize on some of those 1 Trillion online searches for new customers are looking for the product or service that you are uniquely qualified to deliver. In order to achieve this, your content has to be good and it has to be relevant to the terms being searched.
It’s easy to get started with social media marketing. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Business Pages have all become mainstream social media channels and have permeated our everyday lives. Many small businesses still have not come around to the realization that developing a social media strategy is important.
Just having a Facebook page or Twitter account is not enough, you must develop a well thought out social strategy that incorporates each of the three previously discussed elements above. By knowing who your ideal customers are, and publishing and developing content on your website, you can utilize the power of social media.
Your social media will allow you to get your content noticed which can turn your online strategy into a lead generation machine.
Social media is an important online tool to get your company found by the right people amongst all of the noise on the internet.
There are some great FREE or low cost tools that you can use to help you get started and save some time. Buffer, Hootsuite and Crowdfire are just a few popular tools that can help you get organized and add some juice to your social media efforts.
Hire an Inbound Agency
If the previous four items seem overwhelming, another option is to consider hiring an Inbound Marketing Agency. Inbound marketing is the methodology that many companies are turning to today to drive business results and increase profits. The tips mentioned above are all elements of a successful inbound marketing strategy.
For roughly the cost of hiring an employee without the headaches of management and training and the costs of benefits and payroll taxes, you can harness the expertise and experience of an Inbound Marketing Agency that has content creators, graphic artists and digital marketing experts all in-house.
A great Inbound marketing agency can save you time and money, drive your ideal customers to your doorstep and free you up to run your business, not be run by it.
David, a HubSpot Certified Inbound Marketer is the Chief Content Creator for InTouch Marketing and its clients.