Digital: A Big Boost for Small Biz

With technology giving people unprecedented information and choice regarding products or services, customers are now firmly in a position of power in their relationship with retailers, service providers and brands.

This means you have to work harder than ever to meet – and wherever possible exceed – customer expectations. Digital marketing can help you meet this challenge. It boosts customer acquisition and loyalty; raises word of mouth and expands the relationship between shopper and seller.

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When we say “digital marketing” – what are we talking about?

I’m so glad you asked. Welcome to Small Biz Tips (Part 1 of 2) where I intend to fully ignore buzzwords and jargon (much of it means very little anyway) and break this down into broad categories and terms everyone can understand.

CONTENT MARKETING: People toss this phrase around and often don’t bother explaining what it means. How is content marketing different from advertising, other marketing or pr? Advertising, other marketing and PR are all YOU-centric – what your firm is doing, what offers you have on in store now, what the latest news is from your factory floor or boardroom. At the centre of content marketing is the consumer – what are they looking for and what interests them?

  • Advertising offers X for Y – hiking boots, for example, as 20% off for a limited time or connected to specific event/holiday.
  • General marketing is closely linked to advertising – promotes your general proposition (fastest, friendliest Boots on the ground) or a new line of hiking boots that no one else in the area is carrying or new service (custom inserts for hiking boots) that you are offering. Not necessarily time or event specific.
  • PR is announcements – a leading hiking expert endorses your company’s hiking boots ever or you’re opening a new branch of Hiking Boots-R-Us.
  • Content marketing shows not that you sell hiking equipment but that you know where the best hiking in the area can be found and can be trusted to dispense useful advice to make the most of hiking experiences, suggest gifts for the hiker in the customer’s life.

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Content marketing is the creation and delivery of useful, valuable or relevant information designed NOT to sell but to educate, inform or entertain. It establishes and enhances the link between you and your current/potential consumer; builds trust, positions you as a leader in the field. You can get our information out in email newsletters, put it on blogs, websites, online communities, social media. It can take any number of forms:

  • buying or gift guides,
  • inspiration boards,
  • news round ups,
  • FAQs,
  • articles,
  • lists,
  • infographics,
  • videos,
  • podcasts,
  • SlideShare presentations,
  • etc.

The basis of your digital marketing is content – creating it and then using various methods to drive people to it. Once you’ve got them (and got them coming back) your content and your product/service offering comes together to create a decision point and call to action so the customer places an order or contacts you.

OK, but how do I drive people to it once it’s up?

Get the word out. Thanks to all things digital, promoting you and your content is a lot easier, reaches further and can be done a lot cheaper than it has been in the more traditional print-based passed. A couple of budget-friendly, starter suggestions:

EMAIL MARKETING: An inexpensive and effective way to promote your good and services, as we know but also a great way to deliver content – think monthly newsletter. And talk about targeted! With more and more people reading email on their mobile devices, your content/promotion ends up – literally – in the palm of their hand. Rumours of emails demise were overrated to say the least – data and user stats show us that is more popular and more effective than ever. It’s also one of the least technically demanding of the digital marketing channels. Small businesses can easily set up their email marketing campaigns using email management software or tools like GetResponse or MailChimp.

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SOCIAL MEDIA: digital marketing exploded when social media took off. No wonder – look at all the channels! Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn and the list goes on and changes all the time. There are many ways to use it and so many benefits, it’s really needs a post of its own but when used effectively, social media marketing can – for a relatively minimal cost – help you reach customers outside of your geographic location, promote content, build cross promotional links with other businesses, keep up with your industry or field, find out about and promote events, and boost your organization’s credibility.

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It’s also a great for blogger outreach. There are bloggers everywhere and they blog about everything. Find your specialist bloggers (I’ll post some tips on this shortly) and invite them to in-store events, offer to do a Q&A for their readers or invite them to guest blog on your site.

But that’s all very general – I need specifics! What on earth am I – a shopkeeper, accountant, auto mechanic, hairdresser, yoga instructor – supposed to blog about?

The possibilities are endless – which isn’t specific at all, I know but it is true. But in Part 2 (Content Marketing Ideas for Small Biz), I’ll offer some (admittedly broad) tips that might give you some inspiration and ideas. I’m also happy to schedule an initial consultation to chat about those possibilities and explore how I might help you and your business in more detail. Drop me a line and we’ll set something up.

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