Why Small Businesses Need Digital Marketing
The Secret to Marketing on a Shoestring Budget
Here at Insurgent Marketing, I don't often like to make a big distinction between digital and traditional marketing. The distinction between the two is usually overblown. But small businesses need digital marketing above all other forms of marketing for one simple reason: Cost controls.
Cost Controls and Scaleability: The Reasons Why Small Businesses Need Digital Marketing
If you have $10,000 or more to invest in your marketing, it's worth considering a wide array of marketing options. I, for one, am a big fan of outdoor billboards for most businesses. They work. People still go outside. They still drive. And no one has figured out a way to block an outdoor billboard, the way they've figured out how to block digital ads.
However, if you're a small business and you have less than $10,000 to invest, you need to take smaller bets. You can't afford a $1,500/month billboard when that represents more than 10% of your total marketing budget. For one thing, it's too big of a risk. For another, you won't be able to afford to keep the billboards running indefinitely, and most marketing takes time to work. People don't buy Coca-Cola because they saw 1 ad about it on the side of the highway. They buy Coca-Cola because the brand is ubiquitous. They're everywhere.
You, however, need to play a different game. You need quick results. And for that, there's nothing better than digital marketing.
Digital Marketing Tactics for Small Businesses
As a small business with an even smaller marketing budget, you're looking for tactics that are:
Cheap to try
Can lead to direct sales
Can scale effortlessly
Ideally, they should also:
Have no limits to how big they can be scaled, so that you can invest in your winners
Have long-term marketing value, i.e. not a flash-in-the-pan
With that criteria, an image starts to form around the kind of marketing you need to embrace.
Website Content and S.E.O. for Small Business Marketing
This is the granddaddy, and I'll let you in on a little secret: You don't need to have an amazing website to have amazing and high-converting web content. Virtually any web framework or CMS will do. There's value in investing in your brand and your website's design when your business scales up, but if your budget is under $10,000, don't bother with that.
Invest in content. You can pick up some books on copywriting and do it yourself, but if you can write reasonably clearly and concisely, the only thing you should be worried about is making sure your website's content answers the questions your customers have.
Yes, they want to know where to find you and what you sell. But more important than that is the questions they don't tell you about. They want to know about your manufacturing process. They want to know why your products are of the quality they are. They want to know how you keep prices low. They want to know about your research and development processes.
Honestly, they want to know as much as possible about your business. So tell them about it, and tell it in a way that continuously reminds them of the value of your products to them. Keep "What's in it for me?" in the back of your mind at all times.
Use tools like Answer the Public to find out what people are searching for, and write content for your website that answers those questions. In fact, that's how I came up with today's article. I saw that large volumes of people were literally searching "why small business need digital marketing", and no one had written anything that directly targeted that query. I realized it was a relevant question for my audience, saw an opportunity to capitalize on that, and now you're reading this very article.
It's not rocket science. It's just leg work.
Scale It Up: Search Engine Advertising
Want to quickly get more traffic without spending a lot of money?
Go to ads.google.com and create an advertising account with Google.
Create a new campaign, and select "Website traffic" as your goal.
Select "Search" as you campaign type.
Put in your website.
For simplicity, select "Clicks" as your bidding type.
Select "Search Network", and de-select "Display Network".
If your business is geographically limited, set up your Locations.
Under "Automatically created assets", select "On".
Under "Dynamic Search Ads", put in your website information.
Let Google use your website to make keyword suggestions. Review the suggestions and remove any that don't apply.
Set your daily budget to whatever you can afford and are willing to risk. If that's $5 a day, don't let Google shame you into spending more.
In effect, you've just boosted your SEO and your site will appear for far more search results than it would have initially.
Social Media Marketing for Small Business
The other way to get lots of prospective customers without investing a lot of money is through social media.
When it comes to connecting with your prospective and existing customers, en masse, nothing is as powerful as social media.
But selling on social media is tricky. If people feel like they're constantly being sold to, they'll stop following. Much as they would block your phone number if you called them every day to ask for the sale.
By the same token, the purpose of using social media for business is to sell. Unless you're literally in the entertainment business, you have no business trying to entertain people.
So how do you keep people following you if they don't want to be sold, and you're not there to entertain?
They key is to remember what Jeffrey Gitomer always says: People hate to be sold, but they love to buy.
When you start a social media account, the content you post will determine what kinds of people will follow you. If you post memes, you'll get people who love memes. If you post about your products, you'll get people who are interested in your products. They're interested in what it can do for them.
It's like they've raised their hand to say: "Sell to me without selling to me."
Every sale boils down to 12 questions. Answer them, and your customers will buy from you again and again. Answer one of these every day on your social media, and you've got yourself a content calendar.
Product Features: Customers need to understand the specific features and functionalities of your product. Make a post that focuses on just one such feature. Describe that feature's capabilities, specifications, and unique selling points.
Benefits and Value Proposition: Pick a need that your product addresses, and explain how it solves that problem better than any other product out there. Emphasize the benefits and advantages it offers over competing products.
Quality and Durability: If you're selling a physical product, highlight the item's build quality, materials used, and overall durability. Customers want assurance that their investment will stand the test of time.
Reviews and Testimonials: Also known as social proof, dedicate one post every 2 weeks for feedback from previous customers or industry experts. Your customers want to know they're not alone; that others have tried your product before and didn't regret it.
Warranty and Support: If you believe in your product, you'd better back it up with a great warranty and customer support. Dedicate one post a month to talk about your warranty program. Dedicate another post on your incredible customer service. This helps build trust and provides peace of mind.
Pricing and Financing Options: Clearly state the item's price and any available financing options. Transparent pricing helps customers evaluate the affordability and value of the product. It's also their biggest question, and the one your competitors are most loathe to answer. Be the brand that isn't afraid to post the price upfront.
Comparison with Alternatives: How does your product compare with similar options in the market? Your customers want to know. Don't let someone else answer the question for them. Take the lead. Stand by your product. Highlight its advantages, unique features, and superior value proposition to differentiate it from competitors.
Return Policy and Satisfaction Guarantee: You have a return policy, right? Explain the policy and any satisfaction guarantee you offer. Again, if you believe in your product, you shouldn't have a problem standing by it. Customers appreciate knowing they have options if the product doesn't meet their expectations.
User-Friendly Documentation: Is there anything the customer needs to know in order to use or maintain your product effectively? Talk about it. Discuss the availability of user manuals, guides, or online resources that make it easier for customers to understand and operate the item.
Influencer Endorsements: Mimetic Theory tells us we want what we see those we admire wanting. If possible, find people your customers would look up to and share one of their posts talking about or showing their use of your product. Ideally, recruit Brand Ambassadors who will spread the word on your behalf.
Availability and Delivery: Inform customers about the item's availability, delivery timeframes, and any associated costs. This information helps customers plan their purchases and manage expectations. This, in turn, helps to avoid a lot of negative public feedback.
Post-Purchase Services: Customers want to know what to expect after you've taken their money. Be transparent! Describe any additional services provided after the sale, such as installation, maintenance, or training, as well as any freebies you may offer loyal customers.
BONUS: Q&A: Marcus Sheridan has a fantastic way of summarizing his content strategy: They ask, you answer. Encourage your followers to ask questions, and then use those questions as fodder for your social media content.
Do one of the above every day. Rinse and repeat. What you're doing is transforming your social media into a high-conversion sales letter, albeit one that trickles out in bite-sized pieces of content every day.
Will everyone be interested? No, of course not. Only the people who are interested in what you have to sell will be interested in this type of content. But why did you want all those other followers in the first place? They weren't going to buy from you.
Scale It Up: Social Media Advertising
Much like with Google, there are a plethora of options for advertising on social media. But the quick and easy option is to simply boost your posts.
You're already doing the hard work of creating great content that answers the real questions your customers have before buying from you. You don't need a whole advertising strategy on top of it.
Just boost your posts. Set your budget to whatever you can afford, and call it a day.
Is that all digital marketing can do for small business?
No, of course not. There are hundreds (thousands? I've never counted) of different ways to market your business. Some will be wildly effective. Others will be total duds. If you've read my book, Insurgent Marketing, you know I advocate experimentation.
There is a time and a place for virtually every marketing tactic and gimmick out there. But when you're just getting started and your budgets are tight, I recommend sticking with the basics of digital marketing:
Create great content, and optimize it for search-ability.
Share your content on social media. Build a following.
Where budgets allow, boost your results with a little digital advertising.
That's it. Keep it simple. Invest in what works. Trim what doesn't.