Marketing is one of the many hats a small businessperson is expected to wear in the pursuit of economic vitality.
A number of years ago, this was a pretty straightforward activity. It typically consisted of a directory listing in the yellow pages, a weekly coupon ad in the newspaper, sponsoring a local sports team, and a membership in the local service club. And every once in a while you would mail out a flyer, or perhaps go wild and take out a radio ad.
Today the world of marketing has become so technical that it has truly become a very specialized field of activities. So much so, that it is making it difficult to add this proficiency to the already lengthy list of tasks that a business owner needs in order to excel.
Add to that, the continual doomsday prophesies of vendors who claim lack of participation in all manner of social and web platforms will end in catastrophe.
So, with all the choices out there, what are the basics that every business should have in their tool kit in order to build effective and efficient marketing?
1.) A basic website with decent mobile optimization.
If you don’t have a good platform that converts your visitors into customers, your digital marketing dollars will be significantly less useful. Your website should say: “Hi! Here’s who I am, and here’s what I sell. Buy Now (or Call Now).
2.) Install and use Google Analytics. Look at them at least weekly.
3.) Good tracking on your website that works.
Make it part of your build contract with your web developer that tracking codes are in place and performing. Ensure that they will work with any cross-domains you might have (to your ecommerce platform, for example). Otherwise, as soon as something doesn’t work, there will be finger pointing toward the other party and nothing will get done.
4.) Regular (but not too regular) email marketing.
Pound-for-pound, email marketing is one of the best converters of your customers. These are people that already know and like you. Your conversion rates from your emails should be around 3% and higher.
5.) Facebook and one other social platform (Instagram?).
Pick and use just two social platforms, unless you have passion and energy for more (like Pintrest, or Twitter). Do NOT expect to see engagement rates on your Facebook page. It has been gated down to less than 5% (some say 1%) of your fans even seeing your posts.
6.) Do set up Facebook Business Manager and buy ads.
They are still inexpensive (average CTR 23 cents), and actually easy to use.
7.) Search marketing.
Can you do your own search marketing? Yes. Should you? No. It’s not the set up, or even the content creation (the messaging) that is super difficult. It is the ongoing optimization that works best when done by a pro who has lots of data at their fingertips (read: many clients) to see trends and make analysis.
8.) Make sure your Google business listing (Google My Business) is correct and up-to-date. You NEED this to show up in Google searches and maps. This is critically important. Do it J
So, to summarize you need an easy-to-use website, an email marketing plan (every quarter?), and Facebook ads. Then layer in your search, display, and remarketing. From there add in your ad agreements with your directories and other publishers, including good old-fashioned print, radio, and direct mail.
And, don’t forget to attend your service club meetings. Sixty to 80% of business today is still word-of-mouth.