Small Businesses and startups have survived for years on a very famous yet underrated form of marketing called as “word of mouth publicity”.
Since most of the time, they cater to nearby geographical location, the word as they say, “ spreads fast”.
And when they had to increase their reach to target a wider audience, they spent their money on traditional methods of marketing like TV, Newspaper, radio, etc.
It’s a known fact that TV, Newspapers and radios have never been affordable. Yet they have raked in a majority of marketing budget from clients because of the promises they showed.
All this happened until Digital Marketing happened.
Introduction of Digital marketing changed the way marketing, promotion and sales were done.
Digital Marketing for small businesses was never the same.
Digital marketing shifted the loyalty of small businesses and startups from the over expensive mediums they used, to an affordable and cost-effective medium.
Today, Digital Marketing in being allocated a substantial amount of budget from marketing and sales budget of an Organization.
In 2017, 35% of the total expense done by small and medium businesses on marketing and sales involved digital Marketing.
And the budget is slowly getting increased for all the small and mid-sized businesses.
According to GetResponse, 70% of small to medium-sized businesses said they will increase their digital/web-based marketing budgets this year. (source : https://www.biznessapps.com/blog/small-businesses-digital-marketing-budget/)
Undoubtedly, Traditional methods of marketing have some serious competition from Digital Marketing.
However, the shift from traditional to digital marketing has not been smooth from SMEs.
There is still confusion with business owners on how to make the best of Digital Marketing.
They have questions like:
- How beneficial is Digital Marketing for small businesses?
- How should i divide my budget in between so many digital marketing techniques?
- Should I go for PPC?
- What is content marketing? Should I invest money in content marketing or something else?
And the list goes on. I do not blame them.
Digital marketing is a relatively new field of marketing and promotion (at least, when you compare it with traditional methods of marketing) and it is so dynamic that every day, we are seeing a new strategy, a new platform, a new technology and a new method entering the space.
Another reason, why small business owners have their doubts about digital marketing is the complexity which has unnecessarily cropped up around digital marketing.
I usually ask them to think of 4ps of marketing and link them to 4ps of digital marketing (this blog should help you in creating a connection in between old 4Ps of Marketing and 4Ps of Digital Marketing).
For Small Businesses and startups, every penny counts and every marketing budget (small or big) needs a clear ROI.
Therefore, Small Business and startups must have a simple Digital Marketing Strategy to promote their business.
A simple, yet effective strategy which takes into consideration all methods of Digital Marketing and allows the business owner to spend their time and money wisely.
A clear Digital Marketing strategy for small business is what can help them better utilize Digital Marketing to grow their business. A strategy which comprises of steps small businesses and startups should take to succeed in Digital marketing.
Here are 7 simple steps to help small business and startups better strategize their digital marketing:
- Research your Competitors:
Researching your Competitors is the oldest trick in the book of marketing and sales and Digital Marketing is no different (as I clearly mentioned in one of my previous blogs, the fundamentals of marketing like 4Ps of Digital marketing are quite similar to 4Ps of Marketing).
Trust me, when it comes to digital marketing. There is nothing as effective as analyzing, what your competition is already doing on the web.
Start by searching for the competitor on google and social media platforms. Observe the content they are posting on their website and all the other social media platforms.
Here are few points to help you with the research:
- Find the number of Social media platforms they are active on. Filter the list to include social media platforms where they have a good interaction (comments, share). This is an important point as it will help you find platforms where the real traffic is for your business on social media.
- Observe the frequency of Content posted by them (blogs, social media updates)
- Check the number of reviews they have on google local listing or the business directory they are listed under. (For ex, you can refer to yelp for restaurants)
- Analyse the type of content they are posting on their social media platforms and blogs. i.e, is it informative, sales/offers related or customer reviews. This will help you with Content Marketing.
Add to the above, the keywords they rank for in google.
A simple method is to get competitor keywords is by looking at the page title of their posts and finding for keywords under h1, h2 and h3 tags to know the keywords they are targeting, in terms of priority.
The above step can be a bit of a challenge for small business owners who are new to the web. I suggest you take help from an expert to help you with their keyword strategy.
- Start with Google My Business:
Majority of internet users who perform local searches are on mobile. In 2017, 82% of smartphone users utilized search engines while looking for local business.
And guess what, on top of every localized search is “Google My Business”.
Another benefit of “google my business” is the placement of Google My Business’ Listing when someone searches for your business name.
Consider this, when an internet user searches your brand name on google, the google my business listing for a business shows up on the left-hand side as the first result.
To capture the top of Google Local Listings, fill all the relevant information in “google my business” page and optimize it so that the business’s link is picked for the relevant keywords.
- Time to activate the social media accounts:
You already have the list of relevant social media accounts from the competitor research. Register on the relevant ones and build a content strategy. My advice is to not to pick more than 2 social media platforms as it can get overwhelming to manage multiple social media profiles without any help.
To ensure the content is posted regularly on the social media platform, use any of the social media content scheduling tools to schedule the content for a week or month depending on the demands of your social media page.
- Find the right discussion platforms:
You have the google my business listing, social media accounts and a website (I am assuming you already had a website), time to promote them.
A new social media platform or a new blog without any traffic can dissuade any small business owner from spending time and money on their web presence.
Here is how you can grow your new brand’s presence on web:
- Find the discussion platforms where discussions related to your business are happening. The platforms could be channels on YouTube, pages on Facebook, relevant business categories on Quora, pages on LinkedIn or individual profile of users on facebook, LinkedIn and twitter who post meaningful and engaging content with reference to your industry.
- Transform from a passive user to an active user by participating in discussions. As your social media profile grows, the popularity of your website will grow (I have used this trick to grow the subscriber base of my blog (Lessons At Startup) from zero to 1000 subscribers).
The initial objective should be to build trust in between web users who are in your industry and your brand.
Once you have built the trust by participating in discussions and getting noticed, your brand’s followers will automatically increase on internet.
- Participate in Guest Blogging:
Guest blogging helps you drive a substantial amount of traffic to your business’s website. Find the relevant blogs in your industry. You can do this by typing “keyword ”+”write for us” or “keyword ”+”guest post” on google.
Replace keyword with relevant searches for your industry. For ex, if you run a cosmetic store. You can find guest blogs which accept blogs in Cosmetic Industry space by searching:
Cosmetic industry+ write for us or Cosmetic industry+ guest blog
Another easy method is to write for your city’s local business directory.
Initially, you might have to start a little low (websites which do not rank very high) but as your content start getting famous, most of the famous websites across the globe will not have any problem in publishing your content.
- Align offline presence with online presence:
The first step is to showcase the online presence of your business on every offline presence you might have. To start with, the visiting card of the business must have the social media accounts shown on it. Now that’s the basic first step.
How we take it to the next level, depends on your creativity and how you can use both the brandings (online and offline) to complement each other.
You can start by giving offers, freebies, discounts, coupons only on your social media platform and to promote all these offerings, you can use the offline presence to route people to the online presence.
The biggest benefit of such a strategy is the chances of the deal you are offering – going viral. All social media platforms today have options to share and comment. A good deal is bound to be shared by multiple people and will lead to more sales for the business.
Do not forget to encourage the business visitors to rate your business online.
Thank those who give you a good feedback and attend to the grievance of those who did not find your service satisfactory.
Word spreads faster than fire online. Keep a check on the Online Reputation of your business by closely interacting with everyone.
- Register on relevant Business Directories and Coupon Websites:
One of the easiest methods to gain more exposure online is by registering on all relevant business directories and coupon websites.
Most of these websites rank high in google and there are good chances, the website visitors on these websites will send you queries or buy the coupons from these websites.
Once you have the lead details of the customers from these websites, you can nurture them further by giving them future benefits, offers or just routing them to the social media presence of business online.
Small Businesses do not need a complicated digital marketing strategy. They can easily promote their brand online by following the simple steps and spending something online communicating with their prospective customers.
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