Choose The Right Tools
When it comes to marketing, it’s easy to get caught up in what everybody else is doing.
Social media is all the buzz. Everybody has a website, a blog, a forum. People want SEO, even if they have no idea what SEO stands for. Or what it even gives them.
This kind of shotgun, follow-the-herd approach to marketing is fine for big companies with a huge marketing budget. They can afford for some things to not pan out fully. But it can be suicide for a small business.
How do you make sure that your marketing strategy actually brings in enough new and repeat business to at least pay for itself?
The key is to know your target audience intimately, and choose the marketing approach that best reaches that audience.
For example, using social media to reach an age 65+ audience won’t be very effective. Neither will posting flyers at a public park for your B2B services. Newspaper space ads for today’s 20-something age range? They’ll never even know you exist.
To be successful, you must choose marketing tools (websites, letters, email, etc) that actually fit the product/service, and fit the target audience.
A website is useful to sell products that can be mailed, or services that can be delivered remotely (e.g. financial/investment advice, coaching, psychics, etc). Same for email marketing.
Direct mail is great for reaching people independently of their online activities. You don’t have to worry about search ads, email spam filters, and the like. But you do need to know what you’re doing, or your mail piece goes straight in the trash.
Social media is fantastic for reaching people you know, and pretty good at reaching people who know the people you know. It also tends to be very noisy, so getting a consistent marketing message out that people actually see can take some patience and persistence. And as I mentioned, the older your target audience is, the less effective social media becomes.
I have a friend in the Health and Wellness industry who wants to start marketing her business on a wider scale. Her initial idea was to set up a website, maybe start a blog, and post links on Facebook and Twitter.
For her, this approach is 99% certain to be fruitless.
Her business is a person-to-person business. She is a service provider. She has 1-to-1 personal contact with her clients. She has no product sales that can benefit from the mass reach that most online marketing strategies bring. Also, her service is geographically limited to the distance her clients are willing to drive to reach her.
So, what is a better strategy for her?
Her business is personal in nature. So must her marketing approach be.
A website could be useful for online scheduling of client sessions, but not so much as a means for new clients to discover her. Social media is a possibility, if done right.
The best option for her is anything that encourages word-of-mouth. Her business is tailor-made to thrive on referrals. So, marketing tools that make referrals easy (and rewarding!) will do much more for her business than a blog will.
She could offer discounts and other freebies when a client refers a new client to her. She could use social for likes and shares and comments, anything that will create visibility and credibility in her 2nd-level network. She could write an email newsletter on a topic that interests her clients, as a way of keeping her services top-of-mind for them.
There are a lot of options. But the theme to remember is: your marketing tools must fit your product or service, and fit your target audience.
Do this, and your customers will hear your message loud and clear.