You have decided to start your own business, either as a full time project or as a sideline initiative to add to your income streams. Your products or services are ready to be bought, you, and or your team, knows exactly what needs to be done, and you have pushed all your sweat, tears and savings into this venture. Only one thing is missing – customers.
There are a million different ways to get the word out there about your business and what you offer. Do not listen to anyone who tries to tell you that there is only one sure way to market your business. The truth is, some of the marketing methods available are slightly more effective than others, some work better for certain audiences, some are more expensive, and some are more time consuming – but there are options. In the end, only you will know what will work best for your business and target audience.
Digital marketing has become the most popular of these buzzwords in the last decade. Back in the day, printing your first business cards made your business feel legit, today, launching a Facebook page is the new business card.
Digital marketing is such a broad subject that we could not possibly cover every aspect of it in one article. Listed below is a sample of the most important factors you should keep in mind if you are just starting out and want to use digital media to market your small business.
1. Consider all the platforms
There are so many digital platforms, tools and methods that fall under the ‘digital marketing’ umbrella. When you start planning your online strategy, make sure to familiarise yourself with as many of them as possible.
Digital marketing for small businesses includes, but is not limited to:
– Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.
– Social media advertising opportunities like Facebook or Twitter ads.
– Your website.
– Other websites that offers advertising opportunities (like Counting Coins ;-) ).
– Mobile Apps
– Online advertising (PPC) like Google AdWords.
– Your digital newsletter.
This list is endless, and it is thus important to find what will work best for your unique business.
2. Before you do anything, ask why and who
This is probably the biggest mistake that most startups make. You hear about all these incredible resources offered by the internet, and you cannot wait to get on board with all of them. Do not lose that enthusiasm, but before you jump on every passing wagon, make sure you know what you are trying to achieve.
Although online marketing is often cheaper and more easily accessible than traditional forms of advertising, the same rules still apply. What are you trying to achieve? Do you want to increase your sales, do you want to use digital platforms as a means of communicating with your existing customers? Or do you simply want to create brand awareness? Some businesses only need their online campaigns to generate leads, while others need the entire sales process to take place online.
Similar to any other form of advertising, you also need to know who you are targeting. Clearly defining your goals and understanding your target audience will help you to pick the best digital platforms for your business.
3. Nothing in life is free
This is one of the big drawcards of digital marketing – it does not cost anything to create a Facebook or Twitter profile for your business, and you can even get a decent following without spending any money. There are also plenty of free tools available to create and manage your own newsletters. Even building a website or app is much easier and more affordable than it used to be.
That does, however, not mean that any of these are for free. Marketing your small business online may be more affordable than paying for a large billboard, but it takes much more time and effort to get results.
Whether you develop a website for your business or decide to only focus on social media, it is highly time consuming. One of the benefits of the internet for businesses is the fact that it gives everyone the same platform to reach potential customers. At the same time, it also means that you are competing with many more businesses – and not only those in your direct area.
If you create a Twitter profile for example, you will have to tweet at least a number of times every single day if you want to see any benefits.
A good idea might be to not try and do everything at once. Perhaps choose one or two platforms and try to perfect these first.
4. Find one central point that all efforts lead too
As a small business with limited resources, it is wise to decide on one central point where you convert people into customers or leads. For most businesses, this central point will be their website. If you do not have money or expertise for a website yet, you could use your Facebook page as the central point.
All your marketing initiatives should then aim to drive people towards this platform. If your website is your central point where customers can sign up for your product or service, then any other marketing you do should drive customers towards your website.
You will thus use your newsletter, online ads, social media etc., to lead people towards your site.
5. Try to “capture” your audience
Having a great website is brilliant, but unfortunately you can only communicate with potential customers when they decide to return to your site. To overcome this problem, you need to find at least one platform on which you can initiate the conversation.
This is where something like newsletters comes in very handy. If you encourage people to sign up for your newsletter, they basically give you permission to communicate with them. It is important to note that people should sign up for this.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to marketing your new business, but if you follow these tips you will be off to a very good start.