When you’re running a small business, every moment in your day is valuable – especially with a small team that’s responsible for not only the operations, but the promotion, perception, and digital marketing of your business.
The good news is that your team isn’t always as small as you think – you can rely on your online audience and your customers to do some of the promotional leg work for you.
Before you can lean on them to help you promote your business, you have to get them to like you first.
“If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on public relations.” – Bill Gates.
This popular quote from Bill Gates has been around for years, but the message is still clear – what the public thinks of your business matters.
Nowadays, it’s more than just public relations that influences the public’s perception of your business, but the full spectrum of your internet marketing practices – SEO strategy, social media posts, blogs and publication appearances.
This wide spectrum of marketing activities can indirectly influence your customer base to speak on your behalf – make sure they have something positive to say.
When they do have something positive to say, you can leverage it, which means you can spend way less time creating content and promoting your business yourself.
But it’s not just your customers – employees are just as influential. Focus on keeping your customers and employees happy, while also looking towards the future. It’s the most effective thing a small business owner can do to optimize his or her time.
We found nine tips from the pros on how you can do this, and start creating a loyal following that wants to promote you for free, today.
It’s all about your audience, and your customers.
For many business owners, social media, blogs and media attention are all about the business, the expertise, and the content they have the knowledge to produce.
They’re wrong – content isn’t king, your audience is.
Jason Falls is a SVP at Elasticity, a top communications agency, and we heard it from him first:
— Jason Falls (@JasonFalls) May 18, 2016
This doesn’t mean you can drop the focus on content – what it does mean, is that your content should be focused on your audience. It should solve their problems, tug at their emotions and entice their desires.
Just don’t bug them too much.
The key is to get your audience to engage with you, not to bombard them with so much content and direct communication that they decide they want to end their relationship with you altogether.
Gillian Redfearn, Publishing Director of Gollancz (whose tweet made me laugh out loud), hit the nail on the head. Don’t focus so much on a response – the only response you’ll end up getting is ‘no.’
— Gillian Redfearn (@GillianRedfearn) February 28, 2016
If you can’t contact them too much, then how do you get them to engage with you? The answer is user generated content.
People love being talked about, and the opportunity to be featured by your brand might just be the push your audience needs to take the plunge and start talking positively about your business on their own accord.
The best part about this tactic – the customer makes the content for you, and you can spend less time promoting your business, with a larger return.
Muyiwa Babarinde, a business analyst in Nigeria, pointed out that it works – the most successful campaigns have been based on user generated content:
The biggest marketing campaigns of the past years have been user generated content….ALS Ice Bucket Challenge ;Share A Cocacola e.t.c
— Muyiwa Babarinde (@Muyielnino) May 10, 2016
While customers are the most credible resource to tap into for business promotion, you shouldn’t forget about the arsenal of influence you have most closely at your fingertips: your employees.
Start at home – employees are your best resource for digital marketing.
What you’re aiming for is not necessarily to add another to-do list item to your team’s roster, but to give them such a great experience with your company that they want to talk about it on their own accord.
Nurture your employees, and an employee advocacy program will fall into place.
— Jason Falls (@JasonFalls) May 18, 2016
Employees are especially useful when you’re trying to build a social following – leverage their audiences, as they’re probably connecting with other professionals and audience members in your space.
It’s very time consuming to build large social reach from scratch, and leveraging that of your employees means you already have a target audience that you can tap into, according to Social Media Today:
— Envision Creative (@envisioncreativ) May 11, 2016
If you do choose to leverage your employees for business promotion, make sure they know what they’re getting out of it.
From a selling standpoint, they need to know how to best represent your brand – but remember, if it’s their own social media properties, then they have control over what they post.
According to Success Flow Ltd, Education is the best way to approach this – help your employees understand the initiative they’ll be supporting by using this tool more frequently.
— SuccessFlow Ltd (@SuccessFlowLtd) May 18, 2016
Leaning on your employees for a little more exposure definitely alleviates some of the time you’ll need to spend promoting your brand online. It frees up some time for you as the business owner to think about the big picture, your future strategies.
Think about the future – how will you make your sales?
When you think about the future of marketing for small business – it seems like things are going to get more complicated. Local targeting is on the rise, while a myriad of marketing technologies are popping up that promise to segment and find you the right customers.
Marketing technology can be overwhelming for someone trying to run a small business.
The good news is, there are some seriously intelligent technologies and trends on the rise that are only aiming to make your life easier.
One major trend – that seems like it’s straight out of the sci-fi movies – is artificial intelligence. While no one is quite sure what this means yet for marketing, experts like Christopher Penn, VP of Marketing Technology for Shiftcomm, do agree it’s something the business world needs to be prepared for:
#io16 Marketing had better get aboard the AI train. It’s leaving the station now.
— Christopher Penn (@cspenn) May 18, 2016
Artificial intelligence could tap into every aspect of digital marketing, including helping to run your social media presence.
While we’re still discovering exactly what skills are needed for effective social media marketing, developing these skills in your team might be what you need to prepare your business for growth in the future, recommended by Lee Odden, CEO of TopRank Marketing.
— Lee Odden (@leeodden) May 19, 2016
The most expensive, and of course, the most effective digital marketing tool has proven to be video over the last few years. It’s expensive because it’s most effective when professionally produced, and can stretch your marketing budget quickly.
Marketing technologies and agency use are helping video grow from something extremely expensive and difficult, to something that will be in your reach as a business owner.
When you rely on a third-party t to create this high-converting content for you, you free up more of your time to focus on your business.
The trick is to do it right – your audience has to be very targeted in production. Joe Pulizzi, Content Marketing Institute Author, says it best:
73% are increasing video. Problem is, most don’t have a target audience and most don’t tell a different story. #SMMW16
— Joe Pulizzi (@JoePulizzi) April 18, 2016
Digital marketing tools are still a challenge, even when you do it right – hiring some help might be the solution for you.
Sometimes you might need an extra hand
While you’re growing, it might not be in the cards to hire a helping-hand as a full-time worker to support your digital marketing needs.
Consider leaning on third-party vendor or agency in this case – their marketing expertise and business acumen will help propel your business forward.
Here at Creative Click Media, we specialize in improving small business with better content marketing. If you’re interested in talking about how an SEO and content strategy can help grow your business,contact us.
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