The beginning of a series of guest blogs from like-minded businesses related to supporting your business. First up is from Victoria Scally, a marketing consultant specialising in helping businesses of all sizes to get started, and get the most out of their marketing efforts.
Marketing is intrinsically part of every business, whether it’s part of your job description or not. From how your team interact with customers over the phone, to how you present yourself on your business website.
If you feel you need to put some structure around what you do, and importantly create time to do it. Here are some tips to help move things on, without spending hours (and with a small budget).
Focus on your customers
It’s easy as a business owner to forget that your customers aren’t necessarily you. You’re an expert in your field, your customers might not be. So, you’ll likely have to spend some time explaining through your marketing materials, what feels obvious to you.
If you’re an expert in a particularly technically skilled area – let’s use Accounting as an example – chances are your customers have hired you for your expertise, so it’s important to make your communications as clear and jargon-free as possible.
Over 50% of consumers say they are more likely to buy from a business which is tailored to their individual needs, so making sure you can explain what that is, is key!
Create a picture of who your customers are, and make sure the whole team is bought in
This is a relatively simple, but important piece of work.
Putting down, in writing who you’re targeting as customers helps concentrate your efforts on finding, nurturing and communicating with the right customers for your business.
Have you ever acquired a project or customer to your business and then found its not been the right fit? Perhaps they need more from your business than you can provide – ie they might be used to, or looking for larger firms with more manpower to answer their needs. Or, you acquire them via a discounted rate, and end up servicing them over and above?
Creating a ‘Persona’ for your customers helps you focus on where you spend your time – and budget – acquiring new leads. Perhaps you’re in an industry that doesn’t warrant online communications as much as others. Focussing your efforts on going to events and networking meet-ups should be your main source of new business leads. Are you a fashion brand focussing on 18-24 year olds? Probably best to focus your time on Instagram and Snapchat.
Where do your customers spend their time?
Social media can be exhausting. Especially if you’re trying to work across all channels, every day. So often I speak to clients who say “should I be on xxxx channel?” to which I answer, where do your customers spend their time.
Focus on the channels your customers are most likely to be – it’s important to post regularly, when your customers are going to be online looking at their feeds, rather than try to do too much in too many places when you don’t have the bandwidth.
Some clients have also asked me ‘Do I need a website, if I have XXX followers on Instagram’? To which I would always say, yes. If your entire business is built on one platform, you open yourself up to risk should that platform go down – or stop being favoured.
Remember when everyone thought MySpace would be around forever? Having a space on the web that’s yours also means you’re safe from algorithm changes and the whims of social media giants!
Should I hire a web developer to build my website?
There’s no right answer to this question.
What I would say, as you’re starting out is to get going with a basic site that serves the purpose – likely just to articulate:
- Your business name
- What you offer
- Any previous examples of work/testimonials
- How to get in contact
If this is your sole purpose, it may be more cost effective to use a platform like Squarespace to get started.
If you are planning on creating an online shop or likely to need some bespoke parts of a site built then it’s worth hiring a professional. Every business starts at a different point, so it’s important to prioritise what’s right for you and your marketing.
Whichever route you take, make sure you install some tracking to your website. Google Analytics is fabulous, and free. While it may look daunting initially, there are plenty of videos that will show you the basics. Familiarising yourself with how many people are finding your site, gives you a good starting point to do more, or less of a particular activity.
What about SEO?
“SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation, which is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.” is one of the least jargon-y definitions I’ve been able to find.
You may or may not have had an email through making promises of ‘We’ll get your site to the top of Google’.
Your SEO is only going to be as good as your content is relevant to your industry, and what people are searching for. Once you’ve done the work of getting under the skin of your customers, above, do some searching in their shoes.
Spend a little time Googling things you might expect them to look for. See if the results you get match what you’d expect.
It’s possible that some terms can have multiple meanings, so in all cases, consider what it is people will be searching for, for your product or service.
Searches related to brands are different from those related to specific topics, so consider which is likely to come first for your business. Is your brand much more well known than the product (think Hoover vs Vacuum Cleaners as an example)?
Above all, make sure you can be found if people search for your business by name.
Google My Business is great as it allows you to set up a little profile with your address, phone number and opening hours – and as with anything on Google, shows you the number of people who access it. So if you go to a networking event, hand out business cards and then see a spike in traffic to your Google my business page, you can say ‘That was time well spent’!
What does your overall communication say about you?
Check the locations your business is listed online. Is everything up to date?
Does your business appear locally?
If you’re a business that doesn’t operate from a specific location does your online presence articulate this? Not in a typically ‘online’ industry? What does your activity tell prospective customers about you?
If you’re in a particular geographic location do you have a cut off of where you might travel to for business? Or will you travel a certain amount of miles and conduct the rest online?
It’s worth asking yourself these questions as they will no doubt inform how you set your stall out for marketing your business
What’s happening with your competitors?
Also consider your place in the market. Are you checking out your competitors regularly?
Could you benchmark your pricing and activity to solidify your place in the market, so you can speak with knowledge to clients and customers about what makes you different than the competition?
By all means check in, but also limit yourself to becoming transfixed by the competition too, as you need to allow yourself freedom to do your own thing, in a way that’s right for you and your business.
Make sure you’re communicating authentically, with your customers in mind.
Prioritise the things you know your customers will respond to most positively. Make use of the various tools out there to give you insight into what’s happening in and around your business online.
Thanks for having me, Team Heelan!