Let’s face it, marketing can get expensive, especially if you are a small business owner.
Lucky for us, the Digital Age has brought with it many opportunities to promote your business for free. Here we’ll cover using content marketing to build trust with your target audience, the differences between organic social channels and how to leverage, and utilizing marketplaces to extend your reach with little effort. It’s important to note that while these channels don’t require a media investment, they do take time… so it’s still an investment, just a different type of investment.
Your Ideal Customer & Business Goals
1. Goals: What are you trying to achieve?
Frame this in terms of business goals and how they impact the bottom line. Typically, it boils down to three goals:
Identifying your goals allows you to identify measurable KPIs, which helps determine which channels to leverage, and down the road, understand if the tactics are working.
2. Target Segments: Who is your ideal customer?
You may have multiple customer segments, so start by identifying who they are, why your product or service matters to them, and how it can help them. It can be helpful to create customer profiles to bring your segments to life. As part of this, identify their demographic and psychographic characteristics, along with how and where they spend their time.
Now that we know our goals and who we’re targeting, we can determine which of the below tactics will be most effective to reach them, along with the creative and messaging that will resonate with them.
Utilize Your Content Marketing Strategy
Content marketing is all about creating content that provides value to your audience.
It’s not about selling your product or service, but rather about providing information that is of interest to your audience. Content is typically educational, informative, or entertaining, and usually comes in the form of blogs, social posts, eBooks / whitepapers, or videos. Some examples of content marketing include:
A construction or renovation company may provide a blog series on home upkeep that should be done each season
A hair salon may create how-to YouTube tutorials for hairstyles
An accountant could create an excel template for small businesses to project their cash-flows
By helping your audience (and potential customers) locate the information they’re already looking for, you can establish your business as a thought-leader, and build trust with your audience. When the time comes that they require your product or service, your business will be top of mind.
In addition to the above, Content Marketing is also a key driver of SEO, so relevant content will increase your organic rankings within search engines, and bring more traffic to your site.
Think About Your Social Media Strategy: Organic Social Platforms
After you create some great (or even mediocre) pieces of content, promote them through your social channels. Which channels you ask? With so many to choose from, you need to know where your audience is. If you can’t actively participate in all of them, don’t. Choose the networks where the majority of your customers are, and focus on driving engagement where it makes sense for your business. Check out this blog for more information/details on each social channels, along with which ones make sense for your business.
The key to all social platforms is at the root of its name – you need to actually be social.
Relevant content is only half the battle… you need to engage with your followers and other accounts that are active in your space. One of our favourite media gurus, Gary Vaynerchuk, coined the $1.80 Instagram Strategy in which he speaks about the importance of creating a community of like-minded people who care about the same things as you. It’s definitely worth a read (and yet another example of Content Marketing)! The gist of the strategy: choose 10 relevant hashtags and every day leave your two cents on the top nine posts for each ($0.02 x 10 hashtags x 9 posts = $1.80 😉). Vaynerchuk created this strategy saying, “the way you actually win is to listen and then contribute.”
How to use social media marketing to grow & promote your business
Marketplaces, Business Directories & Partnerships
Let’s face it, some businesses just don’t have the time to invest in marketing, or the expertise to do it well. And your time is likely better spent on your core business. That’s where marketplaces can help sell your business for you and bring leads right to your door. A few to try: Chamber of Commerce directory for Professional Services, ClassPass for Health & Fitness businesses, and Kijiji and Groupon for all industries.
Don’t be afraid to get with the times! Reach out to a social media influencer or online company for potential product reviews, collaborations or partnerships, they worst they can say is no! Lastly, there are Facebook groups for literally everything!
The best part about marketplaces and directories… the fact that people are there, which means they are hot leads because they already need your services. And in most cases, the leads lands at your doorstep (slash in your inbox) with no cost or effort required on your part.
The opportunities are plenty, and zero budget is required… roll up your sleeves, and get started. Good luck!