Back in the 00’s, it was only the big brands with their even bigger marketing budgets that could take full advantage of the most popular media platforms (TV, radio, and traditional press) to market their business.
However, the pervasiveness of the Internet and enormous success of social networks has enabled smaller firms to surmount the historic financial barriers to entry, get the most bang for their marketing buck and yield a higher ROI.
We live in a completely different digital era, one where your online presence has exponential potential as a marketing tool.
Today, even without a million-dollar budget, businesses of any size can make a real impact online by doing three simple things.
1. Producing Smart Content
Content marketing is the foundation of online marketing, and even without dedicated internal content resources, any business can produce stellar material that engages visitors, boosts brand awareness and encourages sharing.
The primary goal of content marketing is to turn visitors into paying customers, but that journey can often be a long one. To keep people on the path, content must nurture them, embrace who they are, what they need, and how they feel. It often starts with something as simple as a like on a Facebook page, reading a review, a Twitter conversation, a blog post or a mention on LinkedIn or YouTube.
It starts when something they see online about your business resonates with them as an individual.
Whether you are producing content in the form of website copy, a promo video, blog post, social media update, etc. you need to have a plan of action as to what you need to fill the pipeline consistently over time.
This is especially true for small businesses that often don’t have loads of time on their hands or significant budgets for content production. It needs to flow. It needs to be hassle free. It needs to be an enjoyable process. To achieve that you need to gain positive momentum by seeing that it works, that it is a worthwhile use of resources.
The bottom line is that quality content benefits everyone who reads it, and that means it’s likely to get lots of shares and exposure online. Hence improving your brand visibility and appeal. A single viral post has the potential to make an unknown brand become an Internet sensation overnight.
2. Having a Strong Website
Regardless of size, every business should have a website that is optimized for every type of device. The low cost of web hosting and plethora of easy to use website builder platforms mean that every business can build a website that fits their budget and needs.
A small business website is not only the obvious place to publish ongoing content (such as insights via a blog) but can also serve as a timeless source of information for your visitors. Your business address, telephone number(s), opening hours and much, much more should be displayed on your website, which is why it is such a vital asset in your online marketing arsenal.
At the very least your website should be your digital business card, and that is far more likely to get seen by people than the physical business cards you have on your desk.
Having said that, while an all singing and dancing business website may be desirable, it’s important to think about your audience – what they want to achieve by visiting your website? Does it really need endless page navigation or will a clean and simple brochure site suffice?
Equally, who is it hosted with as page load times have a direct impact on visitor bounce rates? That’s why any small business should take time to optimize their site to load as quickly as possible. Simple, clean, easy to navigate, rapid to load is far better than a website with all the bells and whistles that destroys the end user experience.
3. Geographically Optimized SEO
Every business – especially ones with a physical store and address – need to ensure they have a suitable geographically optimized SEO strategy. Again, it is about consideration of target audience. Where do they reside, what do they want to see online, how do they search the web?
The goal is to achieve as high as possible rankings for your website and other social channels when people conduct searches that relate to your market and location.
For example, if you’re a cloud hosting provider in Albany, New York, you’ll want to appear in the search results when someone is looking for a “cloud hosting Albany” on Google. This is why it is imperative to have relevant keywords in your website content.
Small businesses can take this localized SEO to the next level by producing content that also incorporates specific keywords. Providing value to the reader because they answer the direct queries they have on their minds and are looking online to find a reputable solution.
A great place for small businesses to start is by creating a listing on Google My Business. It will ensure that your business appears when people are searching on both Google Search and Google Maps. The customer reviews on your Google My Business listing are particularly powerful when it comes to converting visitors to paying customers.
Leveling The Playing Field
The pace at which the online world turns – in conjunction with how easy mobile technology now is to use – makes every person in every walk of life a potential prospect of your business. They may not be your target market – not by a long shot – but they may know someone who is. Which makes them a potential ‘influencer’ for you.
Others may be tentatively a part of your potential customer base or bang in the middle. Either way, the Internet has leveled the playing field for businesses of all shapes and sizes to reach people they never could before, in cheaper ways than ever before.
Following the 3 point plan above can cost only a few hundred dollars and a fraction of the time any cold calling, lead nurturing or traditional marketing mix of the past.