The world of marketing is ever evolving. With the introduction of new technologies there has been a major shift in the industry to become more digitally focused. However, this does not eliminate the traditional marketing plan. In fact, it makes a new necessity for a full fledged marketing plan that is ready to take on all aspects of print and digital marketing.
Preparing such a plan for your business can be confusing and overwhelming. It is often best to hire an in house marketing team. There are many questions that need to be addressed about your business’s goals and history that can help to inform the creation of a new marketing plan for 2018. While many businesses have the luxury of a marketing team that handles individual aspects of marketing the business, there are still some ways to get ahead of the game.
Below is a list of twenty marketing tips that can help to build brand awareness, draw in new business, bring back repeat customers and jumpstart your business in the new year.
Define your biggest marketing problem. It is important to analyze your business’s current marketing strategy to see what is working to promote your business and what is wasting your marketing budget. Once you have been able to point out the problems and flaws in your plan, tackle them and eliminate them from your campaign. Once you have removed the less useful marketing materials, you will be able to amp up the marketing solutions that are working for your business and bringing in new customers. Maybe you find that direct mailers have not turned out any new customers, but advertising in local establishments such as the local grocery store has brought in new customers. Use this information and create a marketing plan around grocery store advertisements after eliminating the direct mailer campaign from your plan.
Consistency is key. This saying isn’t just true advice for communication and relationships in your home. It works equally for relationships that are outside of the home. Prospective customers want to see consistency. It is human nature to feel safer and more comfortable with consistency. This translates into a customer’s preferences for the businesses they interact with. When you become consistent in your marketing message, people start to recognize you before they see your name or business. Consistency shouldn’t just be in your marketing message. You should also remain consistent in your business practices and regulations. When you hold consistency in such high regard, you produce a better product for your customer and they develop a trust for the quality that you can produce.
Get your business on social media. In this digitally run age social media is leading the way in how we spend time online. Social media has become a public addiction. People are constantly on their phones, ipads, laptops scrolling through media, liking facebook posts, retweeting and pinning. It isn’t necessary for your business to have a social media marketing presence on every available platform. An automotive repair shop may not have the best return on investment from using snapchat. However, they could greatly benefit from a regularly updated facebook page that includes their business details, advertisements of current specials or promotions, and a chat available to answer questions. Consider what your regular customers are regularly using and create an online presence there. In order for your business to be competitive in today’s market, you need to be on social media and actively using the accounts to promote the business. Social media marketing is essential for your business’s online marketing plan.
Communicate with social media. The channels that you do use should be used for initiating communication with customers. This can be through asking followers what they plan to do for a holiday weekend or their favorite recipe for the 4th of July. These types of posts initiate a conversation between your followers. When you participate in conversations with followers they feel a more personal connection to you brand. This increases brand recognition and loyalty. As you increase your brand’s presence in your customer’s household (by offering a recipe for delicious appetizers on social media, etc), you start a conversation that includes your business name and carries on after you have stopped talking. Imagine your follower happily explaining that they got a recipe or idea from your business.
Get involved in the community. One of the best forms of marketing is word of mouth. To encourage word of mouth marketing in a natural way, you need to give people something good to talk about. Getting active in the community can be different depending on your business. There are many non-profit organizations in every city that are in need of donations and volunteers. Donations are a great way to increase goodwill with your brand. However, volunteering your time and resources can make a truly lasting impression with potential customers. To make a the most of a community event, be sure to document, take photos and get your employees involved and having fun. The more the merrier. Invite old customers, employee family members and members of the community. Serving food at a soup kitchen, donating old clothes and running a canned food drive are great ways to create goodwill in the community and boost word of mouth marketing.
Have a website. While it is optional to use each social media marketing platform to promote your business, it is essential to have a functioning website in this digital time. While your current customers will engage with you online through social media platforms, your potential customers are searching for you on the large search engines such as Google and Bing. Establishing a website that features information about your business and your services or products. While each business’s website will be unique to their offered product or service, there are certain “must-haves” for any business’s website.
-There must be clear representation of the business. Be sure that a potential customer can see all that your business offers with a quick look over your homepage. Have a good tagline representing your business.
–Have an easy to use contact option. Let your potential customers know that they can easily reach you in regard to transactions or interest in your products or services. A call to action and a contact form are essential. It is also suggested that you give potential customers the option to contact you how they feel most comfortable; phone, email, chat, social media. Make sure your contact information is clearly visible on the homepage. One of the biggest turn offs for a potential customer is the lack of a clear way to communicate.
–Make your site easy to navigate. The site design should not be complicated or overdone. Organize the website logically with easy navigation throughout. Drop down menus and concisely displayed information will keep the interest of anyone browsing the site.
–Publish genuine content. Regularly update and publish on your website. As you accumulate more content, your ranking on search engines will organically rise and your website will appear more frequently for people who are doing a search for your services. Affiliate marketing can also help to drive traffic to this content.
Blog. In addition to that fantastic, webpage you have created you need to make a blog. This blog should be a part of the business website, but not the front page. This is where you build a collection of SEO rich content. When your website has a lot of content related to your industry it continues to rank better on search engines. There are many great things your business can blog about. The point is not to write articles about your business, but to write content that is related to your industry but also interesting or useful for your customers. While the blog content will vary depending on your business a few examples of blog posts follow.
–FAQ. Most businesses have questions that they regularly encounter from customers. Have a blog on your site that answers frequently asked questions in your industry. This is also a great opportunity to branch off to other blog posts that offer more detailed information about each answer.
–Case study Use customer experiences to create case study style blog posts for your website. Often a previous customer may have insight for new customers that help them make a purchase decision. Giving them more in depth review information can lead to a more educated purchase.
–Show your work outside the office. Giving readers a look behind the scenes of your business makes the customer relationship more personal.
Include clear call-to-actions. It is essential for your marketing efforts that you create a call-to-action for each form of advertising you show. Encourage people to visit your website and show them the link. Tell people to follow you on social media and include the relevant tags or page information. Call now! Book today! Don’t Wait! Hurry before it’s too late! You want to create a sense of urgency and a feeling of need within your customer and then immediately give them the solution to their need. “Your dream vacation awaits! Book today with no commitment.” When people are called to act and they are given the idea that they are getting deal they are even more likely to listen and follow through with the action.
Use email marketing. Email marketing should definitely be a park of your digital marketing plan. The benefits of email marketing for your business are exponential. It is a great way to directly advertise and it is one of the lowest cost forms of advertising. You can use email marketing to send specific messages directly to your preferred audience. Sending an email announcing a new promotion to previous customers that purchased your services is a great way to directly generate repeat sales. Creating a “loyal customers” group that gets emails about promotions before other customers will generate even more brand loyalty. Email marketing is a great tool for online marketing, as it is such direct communication.
Partner up with another business. Co-promoting is an excellent way to get your business’s name out to double the audience. This can be through affiliate marketing or through physically working together. This is an especially good strategy for community events. If you have a smaller business that can not afford to regularly host or be a part of community events, you may want to consider partnering up with another business. This is a great way to have more presence in the community with a lower cost. You also build business to business relationships that can be valuable in the future for affiliate marketing.
Offer something for free. A great way to lure in every last potential customer is to offer something for free. While promotions and specials will catch the eye of many, a free product or service is difficult to say no to for most. Give a free consultation. Offer a free trial. Offer free “insider information” or “access to your personal database”. There are many ways you can advertise something for free but it is a great way to generate potential leads while offering exposure for your business. You can also offer products in exchange for detailed, honest reviews. Not only will this give you feedback about your products and the purchase process, but you will get an inside understanding of your customer’s wants and needs. From there you can work to improve the customer experience.
Follow your competitors. Find your competitors businesses on facebook and visit their websites. Study how they represent themselves online and how the invite customers to use their product or service. Check out how they use call to actions and view the different platforms they advertise on. Your competitors online marketing persona should give you a good idea of what you may want to use for your own digital marketing plan. Duplicate what you like and learn from what appears to be failing.
Ask for opinions. It is so important that your advertisements be reviewed and revised if necessary before going to post or print. Whether you are creating the advertisements and copy in house or if you are freelancing the work to out, you must review all the content before it is made available to the public. This is a good time to ask for opinions from those around you. Your family, co workers, employees and friends are all wonderful resources for giving feedback on the appearance of your advertisements. Use them!
With so many regular changes in the world of marketing, it can be difficult to keep up with the newest trends. Follow some of the above steps to stay relevant and keep up with the newest marketing trends in the year 2018.