If you’re a small business owner, chances are you don’t have an armoury of tools to implement a first class integrated marketing plan – even if you have a plan!
Many of the so-called best practice solutions are aimed at larger businesses with much bigger marketing budgets that small businesses (SMBs) bootstrapping their way forward can’t afford to get started.
Still, there are technologies and tools out there to ensure there isn’t a disconnect between your marketing and services on offer.
For Customer Focus, Run a Blog
One of the biggest stumbling blocks online for SMBs is getting found. Even if you have the money to invest in a well-designed website running on an open source solution like WordPress, you have to put time, energy and resources into generating content.
Why content ?
Google loves content and that in turn helps you get found in search engines. More importantly, your potential customers like content.
For example; Imagine you’re planning a meeting in town and Google “Best café for a meeting + Stockholm”.
If Nice Café’s blog post 5 Reason’s to Hold Your Business Meeting at Our Café turns up near the top of Google and you click through to see a blog post that shows a 30 second clip of the café embedded from YouTube, and five pictures of business folks munching on da variety of large slices of delicious looking cakes, chances are you might click on the Google Map located above the fold of their website showing you how to get there.
Don’t Underestimate Content
Although of the surface this kind of blog post might seem cheesy, you shouldn’t underestimate the persuasive power of a blog post. One of the current top search results for the “best Stockholm café for a meeting” turns up Visit Stockholm’s Blog, which although it provides a great list of some places to check-out, it doesn’t work hard to sell a particular café. Hypothetical Nice Café’s blog post with personality, a sense of humour and a clear indication of what exactly is available is going to attract customers.
Each marketing channel you develop will have its own unique strengths and weaknesses. Blogging, although great for attracting users searching for information on the go, might not be the right platform on its own to convince some visitors to your website to purchase your services or products.
For example, over 80 percent of traffic to this blog on a daily basis consists of unique visitors. Sure, some of those might come back to the site again to check out what I’m doing; however, it is the content that encourages subscribers that clearly generates leads the most.
I’m talking here about my podcast and newsletter(s).
Someone that repeatedly listens to my podcast gets a sense of who I am and what I do. This, in turn, generates customers.
That’s not to say I don’t value my blog; on the contarary, the blog, along with Twitter, brings people here in the first place and then they tend to pick up on the podcast.
SMBs Have to Focus Their Efforts
By tracking the data generated by the blog, podcast, newsletter and Twitter, I’ve learned to focus my marketing in particular areas. Sustainable businesses require profitability so my marketing efforts need to generate results. Although I’m always willing to explore new marketing tools, by tracking my return on investment, I know where to put my focus.
Approaching Integrated Marketing on a Budget
You’d be extremely lucky to implement a superfantastic and successful integrated marketing strategy straight out of the gate; nevertheless, if you do your due diligence and explore the marketing tools that are out there, learning what they can do you’ll start to understand just how many options are open to SMBs now.
It’s vital, however, that you put systems in place to measure their effectiveness so you can monitor their success and tweak your strategy and the tools you use where necessary.
If you’re on a tight budget and don’t want to put your faith in someone else’s platform (I’m thinking Facebook !) for marketing your business, set up a blog on your website to target search and provide content that really answers the questions or problems people go online to answer.
Next, I would recommend you develop a video podcast or audio podcast or newsletter that encourages people to subscribe to another form of content that you create. If you’re a restaurant, share recipes or cooking tips; if you run a gardening business, show people how to maintain their lawn and plants, and if you run a camera show send out a weekly newsletter with instructions on how to get the most out of a digital camera, etc.
Sustained content that speaks to its target audience will help convert your prospects into customers.
What About You?
What’s the biggest issue facing your business when it comes to developing an integrated marketing strategy?