Is it Too Late for My Company to Get Started with Digital Marketing?
It’s been 10 years since the iPhone first hit the market and changed the way we consumed information forever. Large businesses were quick to hop on the digital bandwagon, positioning themselves with banner ads, slick websites and, in time, all-encompassing social media marketing. Small-to-medium sized companies are at a major disadvantage in this arena. Not only do they often lack anything like a substantial online presence, they have very limited budgets with which to establish one.
The whole situation leaves a lot of SMB owners like you wondering if you can compete online or if it’s just entirely too late to get started with a digital marketing strategy.
Digital Marketing is the Future, Get Started Now
Although your company may be a bit behind the curve when it comes to digital marketing, it’s far from too late to get started. It’s also entirely possible to establish substantial visibility with a small budget, it’s all in how you approach the problem. If you’ve come to this site, you’re probably looking to establish a relationship with people who are nearby. This is actually much easier than it may seem, since you’re able to marry digital and physical assets seamlessly.
Ask yourself a few questions to get started:
Where are my leads currently coming from? This can help determine what direction your marketing should take. If you mostly work with referrals, you’ll want to make sure that you’re using reputation sites like Yelp! so potential customers can see how well you do what you do. Potential customers will probably also check that you have a Google My Business account and a Facebook account, as well as a functional website. In today’s world, these serve as tools to reassure leads that your business is for real.
Who do I want to attract to my company? Audience is more important than ever. Digital marketing literally gives you access to every internet-connected human on the planet. There’s no way you can possibly serve them all, so you have to really narrow your field. Do you like working with people who are over 55, own their own homes and live within five miles of your office? It’s not difficult to target those specific folks with the right tools. You simply need to figure out where they are (online and off) and send them a message they can identify with. Maybe they’d like to update their home, but don’t know where to get started. This is a problem you can absolutely solve!
What’s my goal with digital marketing? Everybody wants to sell more stuff, otherwise why bother with marketing? But there are many different ways to get there, so you need to figure out what it is that you really want to do. Would you like to encourage people to call you directly? Maybe you just want to use your online marketing as a way to prove your chops with lots of customer recommendations. Whatever your goal, there’s a way to achieve it by picking and choosing the right digital outlets, audiences and tools.
The worst possible thing you can do is continue to procrastinate. Any quality start is better than a non-start when it comes to digital. But quality is the key here. Poorly designed or written websites and irregular social media posts give the impression that you’re not up with current technology and may or may not be a legit company.
Goals and Outlets for DIY Digital Marketing
There’s no way this list can possibly be exhaustive, but here’s a place to start if you’re going to give handling your own digital marketing a go. Some tools and internet locales are better than others at reaching the people you want. Just remember, rule number one is always “don’t waste money on platforms that are long shots.”
- Facebook: With over a billion users, Facebook would seem like the best place to market anything, but the truth is that Facebook marketing is only as good as your audience focus and message. If you don’t really know who you want to sell to, or you lack a strong brand or message, it’s just going to be a giant black hole that eats your money. That being said, you should have a free listing, but until you know who your audience is, hold off on the paid advertisement.
- Instagram: See Facebook comments. This is a great place to showcase before and afters, though, so keep it in mind if your work tends to be fairly dramatic.
- Pinterest: Pinterest is a place where women in their 30s and 40s tend to congregate to work through purchasing decisions and learn new skills. A lot of digital marketers steer clear of this site because they don’t understand how to use it, but again, if your work is dramatic or has options available (for example, you’re a new home builder), Pinterest could be an ideal lead source.
- SnapChat: SnapChat is popular with kids 13 to 21ish, but it’s unlikely they’re going to buy what you’re selling. There’s very little value here, contrary to what some would have you believe. Again, consider your audience.
- LinkedIn: If your work is primarily in the commercial sector, you may find lots of good leads on LinkedIn. It’s a bit of a mixed bag, however. The targeting isn’t as tight as Facebook and Instagram, which means you could end up spending a lot more for limited results.
- Website: You need one. Period. Dot. Everyone has a website today, even if it’s just a basic five page number. In the customer’s eye, this proves you’re a real business, not just some guy in a truck who happens to have business cards.
- Blog: Blogs are great for driving traffic to your site, especially when used in conjunction with social media. However, a blog that’s not updated regularly is worse than no blog at all. Either plan to hire someone to handle your editorial calendars and your blogging, or block out time each week to write a well-considered blog and post it. Google now grades on the quality of your posts as well as their consistency, make sure what you produce is top notch.
- Yelp!: Yelp! and other review sites are vital for service-based industries. They give you a way to prove that you’re every bit as good as you claim, since your customers are happy to talk about how things went. Even the bad reviews can be useful. How you handle the worst situations points to the kind of person or business you are to work with.
- Google My Business: Any company that doesn’t have a Google My Business account needs to stop reading right now and sign up. It’s completely free and will help your customers find you, saving you from having to find as many of them.
- Search Engine Optimization: SEO used to be a really big deal. People would stuff their sites and blogs with keywords in hopes of getting more attention. These days, Google is smarter and can literally read the content on your pages, so they’re not nearly as important as they used to be. It’s still a good idea to choose keywords carefully so you can be found in all the chatter, but you don’t need to lay them on too thick. Too much of a good thing will get you blacklisted, meaning that Google will completely remove you from the search engine and you’ll essentially disappear from the Internet.
Digital is Gaining Market Share, You Can’t Afford to Lag Behind
More and more people are rejecting paper marketing and choosing to rely on their smartphones, tablets and computers for sourcing services and products. You cannot resist this rising tide forever, no matter how much you may want to. The old way worked just fine, when people were taking advantage of newspapers, magazines and the like, but today they boot up their Kindles and read the paper there, ad free.
The time to start working on a digital strategy is now. You don’t want to be the last paper marketing hold-out on the block. This doesn’t mean you have to give up direct mail or glossy brochures, it only means you have to start incorporating digital components if you want to stay with the pack. It’s absolutely something you can manage by yourself or hand off to a good assistant.
When you don’t have the time or the interest in learning a new marketing format, hiring a flexible marketing company that understands how your business works is just as good. In The Cloud Marketing is happy to go through your current marketing and help you figure out where you should be positioned for the best results. These initial consultations are always free — afterwards you can decide what to do next, no strings attached. Email us or give us a call at 817-796-9393 today to get started!