Although you wouldn’t want your entire marketing strategy centered on your online presence, your website and social media can be effective tools, especially if on a budget—delivering a sizable impact for very little money. An even bigger plus is that you can start getting the word out almost immediately. But as is the case with every aspect of owning a small business, you shouldn’t take the plunge or dive in deep without a plan.
Jessica Swanson, president of Shoestring Marketing University, considers identifying your target (you have to know who you’re marketing to) as the first critical step of any marketing plan. “Many small business owners believe they’re marketing to anyone and everyone who wants to buy their product or service. That’s what’s known as mass marketing and it doesn’t work in today’s social world. Not only does it force you to water down your marketing message to please the masses, but it’s much too expensive for
the shoestring budget.”
After determining who you’re aiming for, Swanson recommends that you:
- Identify the problem. What issues or problems do your targets have? What solutions are they looking for? What could make their lives easier? (Know their problems and you can show them your
- Craft your solution. Develop a simple and concise message that demonstrates to prospects that you understand their needs and can provide the remedy.
- Add a website (if you don’t already have one). An online presence is essential, and there are many inexpensive and customizable solutions that make building a basic site a breeze.
- Create free offers. Don’t let people leave your site empty-handed. Provide something engaging and valuable like an e-book, a top-10 list or a fun quiz. Be sure to ask for email addresses.
- Develop meaningful content that serves, not sells. Position yourself as the expert and educate and inform rather than pitch. Help prospects understand how your business can provide the best solution to their most pressing concerns.
Content is king, but don’t let it overwhelm you. According to Swanson, there are four basic types of content: written (blogs, articles, press releases, e-books and so on); audio (podcasts, teleseminars, audio lessons and interviews); video (webinars, screencasts and explainer videos); and graphic (infographics, cartoons, pictures, graphs and charts). Don’t try to dabble in everything, concentrate on what you can produce consistently that speaks to your audience. “Focus on your marketing strengths and go from there. The type of content you produce doesn’t matter so much, just as long as it appeals to your target market.”
The same goes for how you communicate. If it’s social media, you don’t necessarily need to spend hours a day on multiple platforms. Identify what’s most effective for your customers and start there. You can always broaden your reach as your resources increase. It’s important to balance investment, both time and dollars, with business value. And reevaluate often! Every aspect of your marketing plan needs to have a strong foundation, but be flexible enough to change as you learn about customers or needs change—it should grow and evolve right along with your business.
When you’re ready to implement your digital advertising strategy, TrustOrRun Ads is an inexpensive way to increase your online visibility.