What goes into a successful marketing strategy?
Twenty or thirty years ago you could put an add in a trade directory and your local paper and that would be enough for a lot of small businesses. Today, a successful marketing strategy needs to combine traditional media and digital marketing. Here are the key building blocks – not every business will need every single one, but most will benefit from a diverse marketing strategy.
Getting your message out there on social media
Social networks are an attractive digital marketing tool as they’re free to use. However, they can quickly suck up hours of your work day, and without proper planning may offer a low return on that investment. A digital marketing expert can help you analyse your audience and select the markets that matter, create posts that entice and follow ups that increase sales.
Replying to your customers in public spaces
Social media is designed to be social, so your customers will talk to you. Sometimes the comments will be positive but all too often a disgruntled customer will take to a public space to complain. It’s important to decide ahead of time how you’ll handle these issues, and to treat all your customers with the respect and calmness you’d hope to manage in real life.
Building a mailing list that works for you
An email list is a great tool. Each mail shot is close to free, and you can reach people who are genuinely interested in your products or services. However, if left unrestrained, an email list can become overgrown and unwieldy, full of email addresses that don’t work or recipients who never open an email. Curating both the sign up list and the content you send out can turn email into one of your most valuable digital marketing strategies.
Improving your search results
Organic search listings are a critical way of getting new customers. SEO (search engine optimisation) helps ensure that your pages are appearing high up in searches for your key terms. It’s worth remembering that location is key for many products and services – if you’re a hairdresser, for example, you don’t need to compete on the generic term ‘hairdressing’ but can focus on your local area ‘women’s hairdresser Hampshire’ for example.
Creating a smooth sales funnel
The path to buying your products or services should be easy. A good marketing strategy will make sure that your potential customers know what the next step is at each stage and make it easy for them to take it. This is particularly important for big purchases, such as car sales, and when you’re competing for new business. A smooth sales funnel for an estate agent might include a large ‘Arrange a viewing’ button on every listing and follow up emails after the viewing is complete suggesting a next step. Details are key – making a visitor hunt for your contact details or phone for an appointment can have a surprisingly large negative impact.
Strategic use of paid-for advertising
Pay per click (PPC) advertising is often overlooked in favour of ‘free’ social media. However, it remains a useful tool, particularly for small businesses. As an example, it would take a lot of work and a lot of money to knock one of the multi-nationals off their top spot in the organic search results. However, by choosing targeted key words and using a location filter or a local keyword (such as Hampshire or Inverness) you may be able to jump the queue for a few pence.
Advertising in traditional media
Modern marketing integrates traditional and new media to create a compelling effect across the board. This might be as simple as advertising in your local paper business directory (although which one? Here in Hampshire we have several to choose from) and also on their online directory, or it may be more direct – an advert in a local paper which directs readers to a webpage where they can access a special offer.
Working on your website
Your webpage is the online equivalent of the windows, aisles and shelves in a highstreet shop. It is a valuable marketing space so a good digital marketing professional will have suggestions for how to improve your website. This may be as simple as adding a new landing page or updating your blog more regularly, but some websites require a more in-depth overhaul to realise their full potential.