In today’s post, we’re going to be talking about something that is near and dear to my heart. I am frequently asked these questions: What is the most impactful thing that a small business owner can do? What are three things that a business should focus on when it comes to digital marketing?
So while there are many things that you can do when it comes to marketing your business, both in traditional and digital formats, breaking them down into these three overarching categories is the easiest way to digest and execute the ideas and tasks in order to be successful in marketing your business online. So without further ado, let’s get right into the topics.
#1 – Image
One thing you should be doing in your digital marketing efforts is constantly refining your image. Continue to test things to find out what works and what doesn’t. So, what is image? I’m not simply referring to a logo. I’m referring to your whole brand, its feeling and its tone in general. Can that begin with the way your logo looks? Absolutely. But along the way, other graphics and creative assets are created as well, such as videos, podcasts, all of that fun stuff. Do you have a jingle that’s part of your image, that sets the tone as you post things on social media? Consider the way you respond to comments. Do you respond to comments? That’s part of your image as well.
While we’re here, let’s take a look at comments. If you have a reputation as someone who doesn’t reply to comments, that affects your image, and people see that as part of your digital image. If you are slow to respond to comments, you need to focus on this. I’ve noticed that a lot of people neglect this one thing, and while it is vastly underrated and vastly underutilized, it is also possibly the most important of the three things we’ll talk about today. Small business owners everywhere seem to miss this key point.
Sit down and determine what your image is going to be. Literally. Sit down … and figure it out. Image does not happen accidentally. Image is intentional. You respond to comments the way you do because you’ve actually sat down and figured out how you’re going to respond to comments. You’ve decided that this is how it will look from an image standpoint or a design standpoint. It doesn’t just happen to look that way. You’ve intentionally chosen the art style, the colors, all of the fun stuff, and you should also be intentional regarding how you will respond to comments. Most people, including myself, call this image. I’m talking about image that in this case is synonymous with brand or branding. Good branding leads to a good image. As a small business owner, don’t miss this core category. Be intentional.
Of course, this leads us to an important consideration when you’re just starting out. Early on, especially in marketing, you just have to get content “out there.” You want your brand to be refined, and it can become expensive to have fancy looking elements. So you are walking the fine line of creating content just for the sake of having content out there and making sure it’s refined. Keep in mind that your image should never hinder you from creating content. Make sure that it is scalable, and something that’s easy to create.
One thing that we at WunderTRE realized recently had to do with this very dilemma. We loved the way we looked. Our clients, leads, and people that found us online commented that they liked our look, our feel, our sound. And that’s great. But it was slowing us down from being able to create meaningful content because it took so long to also make that content look the way we wanted it to look. Half of the battle was making things look pretty, when at our stage in the game we should have been intent on putting out content.
So we’ve refined our image a bit to make it more simple, if you will. It still looks very high grade, still very high quality. But it’s not near as fancy as it was for the sake of needing to be able to put content out there and not be hindered by the look. We have a dedicated team of 10-15 people in our marketing department that can put together the kind of content we want, and that’s fantastic.
When you’re putting together image, one of the biggest pieces of advice I can give you is to make sure that it’s actually scalable. Whether you have a team (big or small), or there’s just you, make sure that on a day in and day out basis, you can constantly put out content that matches your image. Otherwise, you’re going to put out one really great thing that matches your image, followed by three things that don’t look like you at all. You don’t want to get caught between an image that is hard to maintain and the need to put content out. We’ve been there, we’ve done that. And it is not fun.
All this to say: focus on your image and make it scalable. That’s number one. That’s one of the biggest categories you can focus on.
#2 – Content
The second category that needs focus is content. You’ve got the image, the look, the feel. The brand is more like the emotional side. But then there’s the content itself. What are you actually putting out? Focus on being very intentional with your content. Again, you need to walk that line early in the game when you’re marketing your business that you need to get as much content out as possible. But it needs to line up with the image that you’ve chosen for yourself as well. You don’t want to be out there just paintballing content out there and letting it land where it may. You want to make sure that it has a plan and a purpose, that it falls in line with your brand.
To create good content, I believe the biggest thing, and this is my nugget of wisdom for this particular topic, is that you listen to your audience. It can be very easy as a business owner or marketing department to get in your own head and say, yeah, this is something that we think people will benefit from. But at this point you are assuming that’s what would benefit them. So you put all of this effort into creating some resource for your company that nobody cares about, because nobody asked for it.
The easiest way to create content is to listen to the questions that you are asked over and over by your customers. Create articles, resources, videos and podcasts around those topics. Answer industry questions. Answer company-specific questions. For example, if your company does things a certain way, create a blog about it. Build content around it. Explain why it’s an amazing thing that you do it the way you do. Your content is your opportunity to leverage your company’s uniqueness. Consider your customers and prospects. How will they get to know what it is that you do? Use your content as a platform for your business to not only answer industry questions but also company-specific questions. Don’t fall short on your content.
So… what should you do with all of this content? Where do you distribute it? There’s content creation, and then there’s content distribution. While content creation should be based around the needs of your audience, content distribution should be determined by whatever reaches your target audience. I (and many others) had fallen into the mindset that there were so many social networks, blogging platforms, podcasting platforms and video platforms, that it was important to be on ALL of them. But I would say it’s better to just be where your audience is. If your audience is on Twitter, do all your stuff on Twitter. If your audience is on YouTube and Instagram, distribute your content there. Make videos for YouTube, make posts and videos for Instagram, and/or write content for Facebook and LinkedIn if that’s where they are.
You might ask, “I’m already creating the content; why don’t I just go ahead and distribute it everywhere?” This is coming back to that image thing. I’m a firm believer that you shouldn’t just post content everywhere just for the sake of doing so. Treat every network as an individual network. LinkedIn has its own best practices, Facebook has its own, etc. You don’t want to just shotgun content out there. Even if you’re linking to the same video as you did on Facebook, present it differently. That means take the time to actually post something on LinkedIn that fits the LinkedIn style. And you can see that taking the mindset of each particular network with its respective needs, and tailoring your content accordingly, can become time-consuming when you repeat that task for all the different platforms you’re on. That’s why I think it’s necessary to just dial in on the handful of networks that you need to be on because it’s where your audience is. Distribute it well and respect the network.
#3 – Paid Ads
Here’s my third and final category. Early on as a business owner your focus with your digital marketing efforts should be your paid ads strategy. Your options include but are not limited to Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google Display, Google Search. Having a good ads strategy in place is necessary. I understand because I’m a business owner that when you’re first starting out, or even if you’re three or four years into it, you might not have extra expendable cash to just throw toward ad platforms. That’s where it becomes strategic and specific.
Remember, you don’t want to spread across all of the ad platforms. Just because there are tons of places you can buy ads doesn’t mean you should buy them all. If your audience is searching for you or if you have a very searchable business, people are going to be googling. If you have more of a novelty thing, people aren’t necessarily going to be searching for it. Rather, it might be one of those things they see on Facebook and didn’t know they needed it in their life until they saw that display ad. This is where strategy comes into play.
In any case, you need a good paid ads strategy straight up. I see business owners make the mistake of having a decent image and content, but they don’t really have an ad strategy to drive a lot of traffic to their business, which is extremely beneficial at the beginning. And as a growing business in the early (or even mid) stages, business owners typically struggle with getting traffic online, or getting enough leads and prospects to their website to even make that website work. Do you get enough eyeballs on that blog post to even make it worth writing?
Consider that as a startup business you’re not going to have a huge following right from day one. That’s why paid ads are a great way to help get you, your content, and your image in front of people. Because at the end of the day, what is a great image and great content, if it’s not in front of people.
Let’s put it all together. You can see that these three topics, having good brand image, good content, and a good paid ads strategy, is a symbiotic relationship. You really can’t have one without the other. Especially in a world where content is everywhere, you have to have some way of standing out. If you have great content but it doesn’t look good, or if you’re not able to reach people where they are, it’s going to be difficult to have that content work on its own. If you have paid ads that can stand out on their own but it clicks through to mediocre content, or if an image doesn’t stand out in a crowded online world, they are not worth anything.
There are niche cases where you might be able to get away with having one without the other, where you have good image and content and you don’t need paid ads, or you have a good image and paid ads and you don’t need a ton of content. There are those niche cases. But I’m speaking to the masses, the average business owner, the people that don’t have a unicorn situation where things just happen to work for them. For those of you that have to grind, to get where you’re going, you need all three of these things working for you.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed this blog post. I tried to include a couple of golden nuggets. If you are a business owner and as you’re reading this you feel stagnant in your marketing efforts, don’t be afraid to reach out to us. If you need somebody to bounce ideas around, or if you’re looking for a company to work with that will take the time to get to know you and your unique situation with your customers and target audience, that’s why we exist. And if you want somebody that can help you with your image, your content, your ads campaign, that’s that’s what we do here at WunderTRE.
We’re here to empower you to be the best business owner and the best business in your space that you can possibly be. Don’t hesitate to reach out.
Thanks for reading.