Many times, small and medium sized businesses find themselves falling behind the competition or being stuck in a place with not much growth potential. While sometimes this may be caused by the actual product being sold and its inferior quality or service in the market, there seems to be one more factor recurring for many businesses I had the pleasure to work with – their lack on knowledge or presence online. Equally, there are constantly artists creating marvellous pieces and not being able to showcase them to the right audience or gain the exposure they would deserve, often being only few steps from their escalation to success.
Whether you are the owner of a corner coffee shop, indie music label, small creative agency or local hair salon, this article will reveal valuable steps you can take right away for bringing your business up-to-date online. We’ll keep things brief and straight forward, as I would like to give you as much time as quickly as possible to take these steps and see the value in your account.
1. Get social
Because you are small, you still have the opportunity to be more personal to your audience. In a world full of options and automation in customer relationship management, this can be your most valuable asset in customer acquisition and retention: virality, recommendations, references – these all sound like music to the ears of a business owner. How do we make them apply to our business?
Put yourself in the shoes of your audience: Where do they spend most time online? What platforms to they usually use? Are they on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest? Identify these, and become present. Give them the chance to be in touch with you more often and create multiple touch points between your brand and your audience. Ultimately, this will be a factor keeping your dialogue ongoing and build brand loyalty. Also, you will get exposure to look-alike audience, and will allow you to create content relevant to your public, stay personal and share it on the right channels.
2. Build a database
Direct marketing is becoming more and more popular online, and because of the fast-moving technology we are now able easier than ever before to collect data and use it in highly targeted and customised communications. You might have heard of “Omni-channel Marketing” or “Advanced targeting” in the top industry talks, seminars and awards ceremonies and weren’t sure what they actually meant – the idea is not that complicated. Essentially, technology now allows you to target your customers with the right message at the right time, on the right channel, customised for each person, without having to put too much effort into it. While this can work very easily for small business with databases up to 2.000 customers using free providers such as MailChimp (for basic communications), there are also highly advanced technologies out there that enable you to create automated programs programmes for databases up to 10+ million customers (such as the Related Marketing Cloud provided by Related Digital). The idea is to keep in touch with your customers, track their individual interaction with your brand online and use this for improving your messages and ways of communication. Direct marketing is also a great way of selling, so you can easily incorporate a call-to-action, discount or follow-up on a customer. Look into it, having a good database is becoming essential!
3. Invest in your presence
Too many small companies are afraid to invest into marketing the amount of money they should in order to raise their business. While in many cases this fear can come as a result from lack of knowledge and confidence in the decisions made, it’s a critical mistake in business development.
Think about it this way: If you knew for sure investing £100 will get you back at least 150£ value not only cash but also brand resonance and market share, would you do it? Probably yes. If you are an investor as well, you would probably be willing to borrow money with a 5% interest to buy shares you knew will grow between 8-12% in the next year (say it’s a small innovative company in a growing industry). The point is, marketing is no different in this perspective.
You have to invest in order to see the returns increase, and you can never remain behind from this perspective, mainly if your competition already does it. Executed properly, online marketing will never lose you money, and it can have a dramatic positive impact on your business. If you have never done it before and you don’t have money to hire an agency, a good starting point would be taking a weekend out and laying the foundations.
You can start off with the Google Digital Garage course and proceed with medium length Google Adwords and Social Media marketing tutorials on Youtube. These will give you a bit of understanding about the importance of Online and you will get a better clarity over where to seek advice next. Nevertheless, keep in mind that as little as £200 invested wisely and on a constant basis can make a massive shift into your audience reach figures and your monthly turnover. As a final point here, you will also show you’re serious about your business and you understand the market trends, necessities and especially your customers (and how they engage with your brand). Believe it or not, it goes a long way!
4. Reach out for help
You’re not alone out there. And because of this, other entrepreneurs or artists as yourself wanted to give back to your community and created organisations and pages that promote good businesses, musicians or art creators. You will especially be able to reach these via Instagram and Twitter, but Facebook is also a great medium for sharing content – and if your campaign or message is good, you stand a chance for it to become viral – Yay! Massive exposure and PR free! The question occurring is now: how to you reach these organisations and find these accounts?
Let’s have a brief look individually, channel by channel:
Twitter:Choose your best content or page you want to drive traffic to. Maybe find a relevant picture as well. Use websites like bitly to shorten your link to the page and create a short and to-the-point message. Make sure it catches the attention. For the remaining space characters-wise, decide which hash tags are most relevant to the topic and place them after your message + link.
Pro tip: If you have already found the accounts that might be able to share or have audience relevant to you, tag them in your post. From here on, you can hope for the best – but you have a good chance to get retweeted and get your message shared.
Facebook: Besides friends and your present audience, you always have the groups. Make sure, again, the content you share is valuable and not spam, and share it there! Usually if you target groups strategically, you stand a good chance of engaging new audience and you never know who can prove to be coming in your help! Remember, here is a pool of people interested in your “kind of stuff” so play your cards right. You want this to contribute positively to your brand image.
Instagram:As a basic, hashtags can go a long way. Make sure first and foremost your picture/video is high quality and your account looks presentable. Hashtags will drive traffic towards your media, and even though in general share rates are small, you can gain valuable new audience.
Pro tip: If you choose to turn your account from Personal to Business, you also have access to insights and integration with Facebook and Twitter (and potentially other platforms such and Tumblr in you are present there as well)
While social media is a vast territory and you will find very valuable insights and road maps to build a great audience and engage beautifully in the new product due to be released with Marketiu, only doing the four above mentioned steps can have a great impact on our business. If you choose to follow point 3. more thoroughly and invest in multiple online marketing means – AdWords, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter,while creating a brand strategy, you are very likely to be surprised by the power of it. You can also get in touch for additional advice with myself via Linkedin or Marketiu and we will be happy to provide you with a marketing audit and consultancy/training in finding what’s most suitable for you (as an artist) or your business.
Good luck, enjoy and (most importantly) have fun!