Where and how do you spend advertising and marketing money? Which advertising and marketing channels should you use? These become two of the most important questions a business owner has to wrestle with year after year. And today, you find so many channels available to you and so many “expert” voices clamoring for your attention. Don’t get swept away by a current of media buzz. Avoid making unprofitable decisions.
Advertising and Marketing Channels
Keep this in mind. Consider your options in light of what works for whom and why these options work. Try to better target your advertising and marketing spend. Then get a better idea about what outcomes to expect.
Every business today needs a digital marketing strategy. At the very least, your small business needs a website. You’ll find this statistic shocking! Research indicates that slightly less than half of all U.S. small businesses do not have a website.
Let’s assume that you have a site. Now the first question you need to ask yourself is whether or not your competitors have sites. If they don’t, then having a good site and keeping it up to date may be all you need to do. If you owned the only yoga studio in Anytown USA, this might be you.
But if you have competitors — and that’s most of us — then search engine optimization (SEO) becomes important. Great SEO gets your business at or near the top of search results. This brings us to the next question: Are your customers local? If they’re local, then your focus should be on local SEO optimization and long-tail keywords (words that you want to feature on your pages). Scott Keever SEO uses a local plumber to illustrate local and long-tail keywords:
- Plumbing company near me
- Best plumber in New Jersey
- Top plumbing companies in Chicago
- Best plumbing company for water damage
- Can I fix a leaky pipe?
Closely related to SEO is paid search engine advertising. Nearly every purchase today starts with an internet search, so buying ads on Google and other search engines that are displayed when people search for your long-tail keywords can pay off…or at least get visitors to your site.
Targeted Digital Advertising
This takes us to a type of advertising that is a bit more sophisticated: retargeting. If you’re selling something, there’s an overwhelming chance that prospects won’t buy on their first visit to your website, so you want to get your ad in front of their eyeballs a few more times. With retargeting, they’ll see your ad as they surf the web.
Note how I said retargeting is good for businesses that are selling something. It’s not a very good strategy for businesses whose customers are making a spur-of-the-moment buying decision, restaurants for example. In this case, geofencing or geotargeting may be the way to go. A huge number of searches today are being done on smartphones. With this strategy, Google ads and social media ads are displayed when a prospect is within your defined area.
Social Media Channels
Next up is discussing the role of social media. As I mentioned above, you can advertise on social media, but your digital strategy can be further enhanced by establishing and maintaining a presence. In this case, you need to ask yourself if your customers use social media, and if they do, which channels do they frequent. Maybe all your buyers are senior citizens and few are habitual users of social media. However, this probably isn’t the case, so you need to match demographics to preferred social media channels and go to work on those channels.
Let me first give you what I think is the Golden Rule of social media: Have something extremely engaging to say/show. The goal of social media is to create followers and if your posts are mundane, no one will follow you in the long run.
I also want to loop back to our discussion of SEO because social media and SEO can work together. You see, an important element of SEO is how often your site or pages within your site are visited. The more visitors, the higher placement on search results. In other words, rather than actually finding great content, search engines simply follow the herd and assume the herd has found the great content. If you can direct the herd to your pages via social media — to your blog or posted videos for example — search engines will assume you have content worth featuring highly in search results.
Don’t expect an immediate payoff from social media; you’re trying to build familiarity you’re your name and establish your credentials/trust.
Social media influencers can turbocharge this process a bit. Paying the right influencer or “micro influencer” can put your product or service in front of a lot of prospects much more quickly than you can probably achieve by yourself.
Digital strategies get almost all of the hype today but don’t forget about more traditional ways to get your message out to your prospects. Even Google — who has every digital marketing tactic at its disposal — has promoted services to me via snail mail.
Targeted local mailings, for example, can be extremely cost-effective, and if done well, their return on investment can be calculated down to the penny — unlike some digital strategies.
Newspapers, magazines, radio, and television ads are all worth considering. Local businesses may have never before considered television advertising, but with the latest tools, buying TV time isn’t much different than signing up for a Google ad.
And before I leave the topic of traditional local ads, I want to mention one of my favorites: company vehicles. You see these around town all the time. They can be a truck with the company colors and logo on it, or they can be a car “wrapped” with incredible graphics.
I know a landlord who needs to replace the windows in a duplex he owns. He was talking about it the other day and mentioned that he keeps seeing the Pella Windows truck all around town. That tells him that Pella has a lot of customers in his area so they must be doing something right.
I’ve given you a rundown on most of the tools in the local business’ advertising and marketing toolbox. Few owners can do all of them. The idea is to start with the ones you think will work best, keep the ones that prove their worth, and then experiment with the one you are less confident in.
You might be surprised by the outcome.
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