Whenever I drive down Highway 191 to Moab, Utah, I keep an eye out for my favorite landmark. I search for a small, white sign—no bigger than your average political lawn ad—proudly announcing “BEEF JERKY 25 MILES”. This sign repeats itself every few miles until I pass a small shack off the highway to buy jerky. Despite its simplicity, it’s one of my absolute favorite advertisements. It’s an ad for a small business that knows its audience and shouts its unique selling proposition. Not to mention, they sell the best beef jerky this side of the Mississippi.
When you’re running a small to medium-size business, it’s essential to know what resources are at your disposal to help you stand out from the competition. Digital marketing allows you to have an online contact point with all your potential customers through the internet. Whether through paid advertising, social media, SEO, or email marketing, the following principles should form the framework of your SMB digital marketing plan. Class is in session, welcome to SMB Digital Marketing 101:
Who: Identify Your Target Audience
One of the first steps a new business owner needs to take is to identify their target audience. Without an audience, quite frankly, there is no business. Who is going to visit your website, buy your product, and do business with you? For some companies, that’s an easy question to answer. If you sell surfboards, your audience is surely going to include surfers. When it’s not so easy, do competitor research, run a focus group, send out a survey, ask your friends on Facebook—do whatever it takes to find out who your target demographic is. The better you can narrow down your target audience (age, gender, location, interests, hobbies), the easier it will be for you to advertise to them.
Consider creating a target persona. A target persona helps you get into the mind of your target demographic. You might say your target audience is 20-30-year-old males who live along the coast of Southern California and love to surf. After you’ve done your research and learned more about your target demographic, you can go one step further and create a target persona. In the case of the surfers, find an image of someone in your target demographic, give him a name, age, occupation, marital status, hobbies outside of surfing, etc. From there, keep that person in mind whenever you are creating new marketing material. By focusing on a target persona, and not just a target demographic, you’ll start advertising to people and not only data.
Where: Go Where Your Audience Is
A question we get often when working with small to medium-sized businesses is, “Where should I start adverting?” The simple answer: wherever your audience is. Some business owners want to be everywhere online. The problem is, especially as a small business, you don’t want to spread your marketing efforts too thin.
Think of your target demographic. What social media platforms do they use? What keywords are they searching in Google to find what you have to sell? What type of content are they interested in reading or watching online? Once you start answering these types of questions, you’ll be able to allocate your marketing resources more effectively.
What: Be Interesting to Your Audience
If your marketing is a contact point, you have to show your audience that you’re worth connecting with. Figure out what kind of engagement goals you want to set and what type of content interests your audience.
Take the information you gathered while running your initial audience research and use it to connect with your audience through your digital marketing. Do they prefer written content or video? Do they respond better to a professional tone or a playful one? While running a focus group with members of your target demographic, did you find out that they were all a fan of the same TV show? Great, now you can write a piece of blog content or a social media post that relates to that television show. In the end, your marketing should be a result of what your customers are interested in, not what you think they want to see.
How: SMB Digital Marketing Checklist
Now that we’ve discussed who your target audience is, where they are, and what interests them, let’s talk about the SMB digital marketing checklist. These checklist items are things that every small business owner should work through to make sure they have a solid foundation for the rest of their marketing. Do you have the following items:
- A website
- Is it well designed and easy to use?
- Have you considered SEO to help you rank higher on search engines?
- A blog
- Do you post often?
- Is your content valuable (interesting, informative, educational, etc.) and focus on specific keywords your audience may be searching for?
- A Google My Business page
- Have you put your business on the map?
- Have you asked customers for reviews?
- Social Media profiles
- Have you created Facebook and Instagram business pages?
- Do you post often (at least 2-3 times per week)?
- Is your content engaging to your specific audience?
Know When to Involve an Agency
I get it, it can be scary to put your marketing tools in the hands of someone you don’t know. Yet sometimes you need an experienced, outside perspective to look over your marketing plan. There is a learning curve in picking up digital marketing, and you may not have the time for that. A team of marketers, especially when they’re another small business like yourself, is a worthwhile investment of time and money as they can stay on top of the changing landscape of digital marketing. You can focus on the day-to-day needs of your business while they focus on running your marketing and making you money.
If you want to make the most out of leveraging your SMB digital marketing, Set Fire Creative will be happy to help! Schedule a free consultation call with us today!
Matthew is a Brand Strategist who has a passion for learning, and for improving the world around him. He does this by helping share the stories small businesses have to share and building bonds between businesses and communities. He’s currently working through a movie marathon of all the Academy Awards Best Picture winners.