Many of Glance’s clients are small, service-oriented businesses, like insurance brokers. Our initial conversations with these clients usually include tons of enthusiasm, as they’re eager to ramp up their digital marketing/content marketing efforts — which we love to see — but at at the same time, a certain amount of hesitation, usually because these small businesses don’t know where to start.
For a lot of these clients, whose businesses have relied on word of mouth, referrals and phone calls, this is their first step into the digital world.
Helping these clients realize the power of digital marketing is one of the joys of this business, so with that in mind, we have some thoughts on what small business owners should be thinking about as they get ready to make the leap into digital marketing.
Always Have a Goal in Mind
Julie Ford: My advice is to start with a goal. There’s no point of investing in marketing just for the sake of it. Rather, invest in marketing in order to achieve a goal or set of goals.
Before you go down the path of sourcing a marketing agency, ask yourself, “What do I want to accomplish?”
Here are the common responses we receive when we ask potential clients what their marketing goals are:
- Generate more sales leads
- Increase traffic to my website
- Grow my social media following and engagement
- Become a thought-leader in my industry
- Increase brand awareness
When you’re clear on what your goals are, you’re better equipped to evaluate the marketing strategies presented to you. Plus, you’ll be able to measure how the marketing strategies you invest in actually move you closer to the goal or goals you set out to reach.
Know Your Audience
Josh Kern: I think that, no matter what your budget is or what you have in mind in terms of marketing effort, you have to start by knowing your audience. Who’s buying from you? What matters to them? What are their pain points and what solutions do you offer that solve their challenges? What does their decision-making journey look like, and what’s going to help them make decisions along the way?
The answers to these questions inform what tactics will work best for you, what platforms and channels to use, the specific subject matter you communicate and so on.
The good thing is that for small businesses that have been in operation for some time, this information isn’t hard to come by. Just look at who your customers are now, and consider why they bought from you, and what the sales cycle looked like, to start. If you’re just starting out, a little more market research is required, and you’ll probably encounter some trial and error along the way, but it will be worth it in the long run.
Consider Your Differentiators
Mark Evans, Principal, ME Consulting: As Josh says, you need to know your target audiences; the people who matter to you. Another important marketing consideration is positioning your product or service as unique or different. How can you stand out from competitors? Why would someone use your product as opposed to a rival?
The difference doesn’t have to be significant as long as you’re different in some way. It could that you’re available on weekends or you’ve been in business for more than 20 years or that you specialize in servicing particular types of customers or businesses. Select something that establishes a competitive edge and, as important, that you actually deliver to your customers.
The worst thing you can do is blend into the crowd because your business looks and sounds like everyone else.
Mark Evans is the principal with ME Consulting, which helps fast-growing technology companies attract more leads and sales through better customer engagement and brand awareness.
Focus on Your Own Brand
Mike Valenti: If you’re a thought leader and an expert in your space, your voice needs to be heard more frequently.
In digital marketing, there so many platforms to manage that it can be overwhelming. Understanding where your audience and key stakeholders live is where you want to focus your attention. For instance, as an insurance broker, a lot of the conversation is triggered on LinkedIn, so in order to build momentum to stand out in your space, I would recommend spending 20% of your time creating content and 80% distributing it. And while it can be naturally difficult to pen thought leadership pieces under your own name and finally feeling comfortable enough to hit publish, overthinking and rewriting it will only do you and your content a disservice.
Just test your work out on the digital market and see how well it is received and if it is igniting a conversation — because that’s ultimately the whole point!
Any recommendations for digital marketing novices out there? Hit us up on Twitter and let us know your thoughts.
And if you want to have your voice heard in a future Glance Roundtable, let us know!