Constantly clamouring to grab the attention of prospective customers, small businesses are competing with a lot of noise.
Consumers are cutting through clutter by fast-forwarding television shows, subscribing to ad-free digital radio, installing ad-blockers to browse their favourite websites sans-ads and customising what’s in their social media feeds.
To avoid getting skipped over or ignored, savvy digital marketers must craft messages that their target audience wants to see.
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When small businesses communicate with their customers by providing information instead of offering a sales pitch, the consumer will listen. The message and the brand is no longer an interruption, but a valued information provider.
There’s a name for this tricky tactic – it’s called ‘content marketing’. Content marketing means consistently creating and distributing information that is valuable and relevant to those people within a small business’s target audience. Ultimately, the goal is for your content to entice a consumer to do business with your company.
You might be thinking, “That’s not what I do – I’m not a writer!” But whether you sell gizmos, fix cars or build homes, content marketing for your company can help you attract and retain customers.
Here are some of the ways content marketing drives results for small businesses.
1. Boosts brand awareness
Consistency is a key ingredient to a successful content marketing strategy. This means publishing fresh content at a regular frequency, creating many opportunities for a target market to see the company’s name. Your brand becomes familiar to them, and you’ll be top-of-mind the next time they need your services.
2. Builds an identity as a trusted expert
If there are 10 plumbers in a town but only one provides helpful information that educates the community about plumbing maintenance, problems, options and innovations, that brand will stand out as the expert.
By doing this, a brand is demonstrating its expertise, so prospective customers need not question or research its know-how. Since this small business is helping consumers without getting paid for this advice, it will also earn a reputation of being trustworthy.
3. Encourages your customer to take action
When consumers need to spend money or make time for a service, it’s natural to procrastinate. However, once a consumer gets clear answers to his or her questions, or hears a story that he or she can relate to, that person could finally be motivated to make a purchase or schedule an appointment.
Producing content that guides a consumer through the buyer’s journey (awareness, evaluation and purchase) results in more sales.
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4. Sharable content brings people in the door
Creating a steady stream of fresh information on a variety of topics opens several avenues to drive traffic to a website – through search, social media, traditional media and more – which ultimately results in phone calls, orders or foot traffic.
Marketing tactics that are already in place, such as pay-per-click advertising, digital banner ads, public relations efforts, social media accounts and search engine optimisation don’t work as well without content to promote.
These vehicles need something to talk about and link to. Publishing new, relevant content gives people a reason to click. Covering unique, timely and seasonal topics will interest a broader audience and encourage repeat visitors.
It also boosts ranking in search results, making it more likely that potential customers will find your small business before one of your competitors.
5. Keeps your website fresh
Most consumers today rely on the web to find information they need to make decisions. So, a website often will be a consumer’s first impression of that business.
A stagnant, stale website is less interesting and less professional than one with updated content that changes regularly. Undecided consumers who are researching their options might check out a website and social media presence more than once.
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When they come back, seeing something new and relevant makes their visit a better experience – and shows that the brand is a professional organisation.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Top Marketing Trends For 2019
When you reflect on marketing trends that have taken centre stage in 2018, what stands out?
Maybe it’s the proliferation of Instagram stories or influencer marketing? Or the fact that video content has become even shorter and simpler with the rise of GIFs.
The real question is how have you incorporated these trends in to your marketing strategy, and what should you focus on in 2019? Here are six up and coming trends that you don’t want to miss:
1. Say hello to the social CEO
Customers want ‘real’ brand stories and to know what drives them. Leaders who are successful on social media show their companies’ human side and give their brands’ credibility and personality. This builds loyalty and, in some cases, an emotional connection that goes beyond the product or service.
Customers who feel this connection may even go on to become brand ambassadors.
Tip: Share stories that demonstrate your leadership style as well as company culture.
2. Initiate conversations
While 2018 brought the chatbots, the trend for 2019 is really using these bots to gather information about consumers by engaging with them on a personal level and steering them towards a sale. Bots are being trained to be authentic and sound more like people than the robots they are.
For example Facebook Messenger becomes more and more useful for brands as the platform allows customisation of automated messages and the ability to initiate a conversation at the right time.
Tip: You can also integrate this with Facebook shopping and increase conversion rates by enabling the bot to sell products to a consumer through the Facebook platform.
3. Keep it local
Influencer marketing can be short lived or a little superficial. So try to identify and partner with local influencers that are happy to work on long-term campaigns. Also use multiple touch points including podcasts, YouTube and Snapchat as well as Instagram and Facebook.
Tip: Before you reach out to an influencer, follow them and learn a bit about the way they represent brands and engage with their fans to see if they’ll be a good fit.
4. Try Instagram ads
As Facebook ads continue to dominate our feeds, advertisers are looking for a new place to stand out and get noticed. Instagram ads are on the rise, according to the Merkle report that showed that while Facebook ad spend grew 40% year-on-year in the second quarter of 2018, Instagram ad spend jumped 177% in the same time period.
Tip: Do some A/B split testing with different styles of images and calls-to-action.
5. Personalise email communication
Make sure to use automation and personalisation to really make your customers feel that you are listening.
Using hyper-segmentation, you can target very specific parts of your market. This will ensure that they receive personalised emails based on what they have expressed interest in or actions they have taken with regards to your brand.
Tip: Use automated campaigns after a first purchase; to request a review on social platforms; or just thank customers for shopping and remind them to share their purchase online.
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6. Post in real time
In an effort to bring offline marketing into the online world, Instagram TV or IGTV allows brands to create a place for consumers to watch live events or brand content in their own time.
In addition, IGTV replaces the need for YouTube in some cases as brands are able to upload 10 or more minutes of footage directly to Instagram for consumers to watch as ‘episodes’.
This will become more prevalent in the years to come as businesses include this in their strategy. IGTV videos are less formal and will typically cost less than a traditional TV advert to create.
Whatever trends come our way, the key is to remain agile and adapt to how customers engage with your brand. And more than ever before, it’s important for all marketing touch points to align and communicate the same message.
4 Young Marketing Influencers You Can Learn From
Whether you’re a CMO or just trying to build your own brand, these influencers can help you reach your goal.
Today, social media is a very crowded and competitive ecosystem – it can be extremely difficult for brands to break through and spread their message to a large number of potential new customers.
Marketing via social media has become a necessity. According to a post by DMA, 45 percent of surveyed marketers are looking to increase brand awareness through social media. The same post stated that spending via social media is expected to increase 18.5 percent in the next five years.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
The Fifth P Is The Most Crucial
The reasoning is simple. If you don’t know your market, you will never be able to understand how the 4Ps apply to your potential customers.
The four Ps of the Marketing Mix (Product, Price, Promotion, and Place) have defined marketing campaigns, both successful and unsuccessful, for many years since E. Jerome McCarthy came up with the concept in 1960. And while there have been tremendous advances and innovations in marketing, the four Ps (4P) are still first on the list in any marketing course.
In the brand conscious society in which we live today, however, a fifth P has become the cornerstone to all marketing and branding exercises, whether you’re in the business-to-business or business-to-consumer market. The fifth P is People or is also referred to as Personalisation.
The reasoning is simple. If you don’t know your market, you will never be able to understand how the 4Ps apply to your potential customers:
- What products do they want?
- Where should you make them available?
- How to price your products to meet your market’s requirements and budget?
- How and where to promote your product?
The first step in defining your marketing strategy should be should be getting to know your customers. When you know who you are targeting and put people at the centre of the mix, you can more easily decide the optimal strategy that will deliver the most favourable results.
Airbnb has built a valuable brand by making the 5th P a focus of it’s branding activities. They typically target millennials born 1980-2000 and it’s understanding their traits (needs and principles) that has been the key to their success. Let’s look at how this impacts each subsequent P individually.
Spending with a conscience is core to most millennials and they tend to opt for products that allow for transparent traceability throughout the supply chain. Airbnb is not seen as a large corporate ripping off the little guy, but creates a community where everyone contributes and benefits from something seen as open, transparent and disruptive to the status quo. The company has no real assets, but its brand has the visibility of a Coca Cola or Starbucks in the millennial market.
While its market is cost conscious, Airbnb knows they place a higher value on products and services that have been designed and developed in a manner that is good for people and the planet. Hence, by consuming the brand they become“part of the solution”.
Airbnb is, more than anything else, including its multi-billion dollar valuation, a community organisation that includes everyone from anywhere. Add to that the lower costs and almost limitless offerings, in general, and you have something their market can’t say no to. Airbnb is a real part of their culture and value system, not some fake corporation pretending to be ‘cool’.
In terms of promotions, understanding their market is apprehensive of contracts and long-term commitments. Airbnb has none, you make a deal with an owner or someone looking to rent for a while and that’s it, no fuss. In an interview with Fast Company, Airbnb’s head of brand, Nancy King said one of the key reasons for Airbnb’s success “is all about emotional connection, and that is really the root of it”. She continues that,
“Iconic brands have a disproportionate share of cultural voice, and they hold the internal culture of companies.” And it’s clear that Airbnb has developed that cultural integration with millennial values.
Convenience and accessibility is important to most markets, but millennials place an even higher priority on it. They want information right away, especially for online sales, and once bought they want to know where their product is in the supply chain until it arrives at the door.
In the case of Airbnb, your booking information is available everywhere and anywhere, on any device. And as part of the community culture it drives, its biggest brand builders are the word-of-mouth promotions its customers created in the natural flow of conversation, online and offline
“Airbnb is an amazing example of how a brand is the value of a company, in this case valued in the billions of dollars ($38 billion at the time of writing, according to Forbes),” adds Rolfe. “This value is based on the value of its community, its culture and the way its partners (buyers and sellers) value what the brand can do for them, not the value of sales pipelines or fixed assets.
“This is a $38 billion valuation based on brand alone, based on the company’s ability to identify its market and create the community (not the business strategy) that appeals to them. In other words, the other four Ps are determined and led by a clear and intense understanding of the 5th P, the people who give Airbnb its value.”
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