The basics of digital marketing

I read an article today on digital marketing, and loved the start of it. The rest of the article is also good with detailed information on audience targeting and search data, but it was the first couple of paragraphs which really caught my eye.

At its core, however, online marketing serves the same purpose as its traditional counterpart: to persuade people that a service or product fulfills specific needs or wants.”

So many people think that digital marketing is a shiny new toy which has changed the face of marketing – whilst it is a relatively new channel for marketing messages and one that has been truly revolutionary in that it has given everyone a marketing voice, the fundamentals of it haven’t changed the marketing premise – to be successful in marketing a product or service, you still need to focus on one thing…. people.

For small businesses, this means considering your intended audiences and meeting their needs via your marketing. Who are you marketing your business to? Whether your chosen marketing channel is on or offline makes little difference – if you don’t know who you are marketing to, how can you effectively attract them?

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People power and social media campaigns

I just read a pretty amazing statistic… do you know how many people covered their profile picture on Facebook with a rainbow flag after the US Supreme Court ruled favourably on gay marriage back in June?

26 million!

Can you believe that? I find it pretty amazing. Of course, the photo editing tool that Facebook launched in order to do it means that there was almost zero effort required to do it, and of course it had no bearing on the ruling itself. But 26 million people standing up and saying they support something is undeniably impressive.

Rainbow filter, Facebook
Rainbow filter, Facebook

Other recent social media campaigns include the outrage over the killing of Cecil the Lion, last year’s ice bucket challenge, and (my hero) Stephen Sutton’s bucket list. Prior to social media, the main way to galvanise a huge number of people in a short amount of time was through major fundraising efforts (at huge initial cost, using mainstream mediums) such as Comic Relief and Children in Need. Now, all that is needed is a social media account, an injection of passion, and the content or a topic that will stand out.

So to those 26 million people who changed their profile pictures, well done. Maybe, just maybe, you helped to show that social attitudes are changing, and we’re becoming more willing to be counted in what we agree (or disagree) with.

Stop! Time for a Marketing Review

Stop what you’re doing. We are now more than halfway through 2015, and have you stopped to consider your progress?

  • Is your business achieving what you want it to so far this year?
  • Has the business changed, meaning you need a new plan?
  • Have you fallen short of your objectives so far? If so, how can you rectify this?
  • Have you exceeded your own expectations for the business, and if so, where will you go from here to ensure continued success?

Things change. If you now need to alter or divert from your original marketing plan for 2015, now is the time to do it. Don’t leave it for the rest of the year, thinking that you’ll just start afresh in 2016 – you can get back on track, or make new tracks. The start of a new year may be a good kick-start, but you can make changes at anytime you think appropriate.

landscape-mountains-nature-man

Likewise, if your business is exceeding its targets, now is a good time to review what has gone right and adapt your plan to ensure that it continues throughout the remainder of the year.

Reviewing your marketing and marketing plan is important as it allows you the opportunity to stop or change what may not be working, or try a different approach. In the short term, this can save money, whilst also helping to lead to long-term gains.

How Small Businesses Can Lead in Women’s Sports Marketing

This morning I read an article about how marketers and brands are undervaluing women’s sport, with particular emphasis on the current FIFA Women’s World Cup (Marketing Week). The article reported that, according to FIFA, the competition will reach 30 million female football players and 336 million fans worldwide. In the UK, every match is being shown on the BBC.

summer-playing-grass-sportSo, why haven’t I really heard anything about it? Do I have my head under a rock, or are marketers really missing a trick in attracting what should be its core audience – women. Other than a small number of major brands, there appears to be very little promotion surrounding the Women’s World Cup. Despite the recent success of Sport England’s ‘This Girl Can’ campaign in raising awareness of women’s sport and general fitness, it can still be seen that there is little uptake in marketing to support women’s sports – just take a look at the listings of your sports channels and see how many women’s sports are being televised. This doesn’t give much incentive to the big brands to get involved.

So could small businesses take the lead in this?

For any small business looking to target women, the sponsorship of a local women’s sports team or advertising at the location where the activity is done would be a surefire way of catching their eye – whilst also supporting that activity at a grassroots level. Specific marketing activities linking to your business to support local teams or larger competitions may also be likely to generate PR for your business, all of which is mutually beneficial for both sport and business.

The golden rule for such targeted marketing is not to be contrite. Make sure your offer is worthwhile to the audience to really get them on board, and encourage their loyalty.

If more small businesses lead the way in supporting women’s sport, then the larger brands may follow as interest increases. This provides small business with a rare opportunity to be leaders in a lesser supported area, and so should be an activity which is both supported and celebrated.

Ten Offline Ways to Promote Your Business

Times have changed. The first place that people look for businesses, products and services now is online. Think about the last thing you purchased, either personally or professionally… I bet you checked their website or looked for alternative suppliers to make sure you were getting the best deal.

So it goes without saying that you have to have an online presence nowadays in order to ensure the success of your business. However, that doesn’t mean that you should ignore offline marketing methods to promote your business. Here are ten quick tips on where you can promote your business, without going online:

  1. Exhibitions – having a stand at a B2B (business to business) or B2C (business to consumer) exhibition can do wonders for businesses, as it allows you to have face to face dialogue with new customers.
  2. Direct Mail – send your existing customers information or offers via post. An exciting offer addressed just to them will make your business stand out amongst the many offers they receive everyday in their email inbox.
  3. Networking – again, don’t underestimate the power of face to face relationships. Get out there and find a group which suits you and your business, and start building firm business relationships.
  4. Local advertising – engage your nearest audience. What do they read, where do they visit? Place an advert in your parish magazine or at a prominent location and remind your closest customers where you are.
  5. Sponsor an Event – sponsor an event relevant to your business and/or your local community (i.e. a charity event, summer fair, business awards, etc) and gain recognition as a result with the audience of that event.
  6. Brand your Building or Vehicle – having your business information and logo on your vehicle or building is a constant, visible reminder of your business.
  7. Host an Event – have a spa evening in your beauty salon, a bake-off in your cafe, or a networking lunch in your office. Get people to come to you, and give them a special service to encourage them to come back as paying customers.
  8. Offer Yourself as a Speaker – many networking groups, WI’s, Rotary clubs, etc, are often looking for interesting speakers to entertain their members. Become a public speaker, and sell your business at the same time.
  9. PR – write press releases and articles for newspapers and magazines highlighting exciting things happening in your business and commenting on topical issues relating to your business.
  10. Word of Mouth – spreading the word will always be one of the most effective ways of promoting your business, so offer an exclusive discount for customers who recommend a friend or, at the very least, say thank you when someone does.

Social Media for a Small Business – Help! Where Do I Start?

Facebook. Twitter. LinkedIn. Pinterest. Instagram. Vine. Tinder. Tumblr. YouTube. Flickr. Google+. Vimeo. Foursquare. MySpace.

social_media_logos

Ok, maybe not MySpace anymore. However, this list of the first few social media platforms that came to my mind shows just how many platforms currently are available for businesses to try. Does that mean you should have a presence on all of them?

Of course not – for a small business, it just wouldn’t be possible. Don’t forget that whilst many of these platforms are free to use, your time isn’t – and that is where the cost of social media can often be seen.

So which one (or more) should you choose? The first step is to look at who is using the platforms – is your intended audience there? For example, users of Vine (a sharing platform for 6-second videos) tend to be younger so it would be pointless setting up on there if your audience are ‘silver surfers’ (broadly speaking, of course).

This analysis will form the first part of a social media plan for your business. Having a plan is essential to make sure that you know where you want to be, what you want to say and how you intend to say it online – especially if a third party (such as a staff member or external consultant) will be posting online on behalf of your business. Give that person a clear brief, as mistakes can lead to potentially costly repercussions for your business reputation.

It is fine to use only one platform. It is also fine to use several. The key is making sure that you have appealing and appropriate content to share with those who engage with your business on your chosen platform(s). Without this, you will struggle to reach or interest followers, which will see your business drown in the noise of today’s social media.