Twitter. Facebook. LinkedIn. Instagram. YouTube. Email. With so many different ways to communicate with potential customers, how do you know which one will work best for your small business?
Recent research shows that 47% of companies don't have a clearly defined digital marketing strategy in place. Don’t become one of those brands that’s failing to make an impact because you’re spreading yourself thin, being pulled in too many directions with no real focus.
In just a few steps, you can create a strategy that will let you define your goals, focus your resources behind your most important business objectives, and reap real rewards from your digital marketing efforts.
It all starts with a bit of Clarity...
It is crucial you know who your products or services are targeted at, because it makes you more focused on how you sell them. It means you can be clearer on the language, imagery, styling that will most powerfully connect with those people who actually want what you can provide.
Without having clarity on your brand you will find customers choose others over you. They will connect with those that know where they are going, have a strong set of values and know how to communicate in an authentic way to their audience.
Your target audience is not everyone! Think of your ideal customers. Ask yourself these questions...
- which industries do they work in?
- what do they like?
- what do they read?
- what inspires them?
Think about their age ranges, personality traits, and digital know-how.
Also identify the key players in your industry. These could be people that stand out within your communities, people that others listen to, people that create action. They could be peers, journalists, influencers, bloggers.
Follow what they post and learn what appeals to their follower's interests. Keep a record of this, a simple spreadsheet will do, and make sure you review and update it, adding others as necessary. Find what works best for your business and focus on that.
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”
— Mark Twain
- Get clarity on your brand and business - why do you do what you do?
- Define your target audience - who are they, where are they?
- Research key players in your industry - who follows them and why?
- Review and update your research on a regular basis
Strategy: one size does not fit all
So now you have a clearly defined target audience and a good idea of where to find them - now what? First things first: define your starting point. There isn't any real way of knowing how far you’ve come if you don’t know where you started from! Identify where you are today - go to each social network and capture your number of followers in a Google Doc or a simple spreadsheet.
Think about the types of content your business lends itself to, and focus on those. Does your niche lend itself to visual content? Video? Written? Which do you have the in-house skills to consistently create? You may find you are spending a lot of time creating content. If it isn’t easy for you to consistently create the kind of content that your chosen social media networks call for, you will lose momentum and waste your initial time and efforts.
As you begin to share content, identify how to best translate your brand personality across social media. If you’re quirky or witty, let that show through. If you’re serious, keep that tone consistent throughout your writing. People do business with those they know, like and trust. If you’re putting on an act or pretending to be something you’re not, you will lose the respect of the very same audience you are trying to communicate with.
Having a clear strategy means you will be able to make more informed decisions. for example, which channels will be most effective at reaching your target audience to achieve your aims. While there’s no one-size fits all solution, if you start with clarity on your goal, make sure you understand your audience, then consider what fits with your personality and brand strategy using the tips above, you will be on your way to social media success, no matter which network you decide to pursue!
“Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.”
— Vincent Van Gogh
- Create your starting point document - where are you now?
- Focus on the type of content you can consistently create
- Be authentic with your brand personality
Actions speak louder than words...
The best plan in the world won't yield any results without actually putting it into action. Create a content calendar that highlights topics, goals and social networks that will support your digital marketing strategy.
Keeping abreast of trending topics and stories relevant to your target audience should always be at the top of your to-do list. Knowing what events are coming up can help you schedule social content that will be instantly meaningful. Whether it’s a holiday or an industry conference, use those events to guide the posts that you schedule.
Once you’ve captured the attention of your audience, it is imperative that you invest the time to make them feel special. We have all met that person in 'real life' who only wants to talk about his or herself. Don't make that mistake on social media with your brand! Just as in 'real life', genuine effort and interest can go a long way. Endorse things that others have done, show that you’re involved in relevant news, and limit how much you talk about yourself.
Remember that document you created at your starting point? Track the results of your digital marketing efforts by updating this document regularly. Some approaches will clearly be working better than others and some may not be delivering results at all. Take time every month to analyse your campaigns and tweak your plan accordingly to maximise your time and effort and successfully grow your business.
"You are more likely to acquire power by narrowing your focus and applying your energies, like the sun’s rays, to a limited range of activities in a small number of domains."
— Jeffrey Pfeffer, Power
- Create a content calendar
- Schedule posts around relevant news and industry events
- Invest time in your audience - don't just post about yourself
- Review monthly to update your starting point document
- Narrow your focus on the platforms that are working best
For more information
Learning how to market your business effectively is not just the domain of those with the luxury of a marketing department. It’s for any small business owner who wants to grow their business. For weekly tips on how to grow your business with digital marketing, subscribe to the RMLalchanCSA newsletter.