Online marketing sounds like a great opportunity for small business owners. But it can also be a confusing landscape. Plan your campaign to take advantage of all the Internet and social media platforms have to offer.
The first question: How do you locate your potential customers online? “Small businesses are lucky enough that they don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Many larger brands have built audiences of like-minded customers,” says social media consultant Terez D. Baskin, owner of fashion blog D’Babetta and author of #11BeautifulTools The Social Media Success Guide, who specializes in the beauty and fashion arena. “A new fashion designer might seek out the social channels of larger fashion brands that fit their target demographic. For example, let’s say you sell quality jewelry and high end accessories. Check out the people who are following/engaging a Henri Bendel. There is your market.”
Don’t just promote your brand on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Look for groups that your customer might be involved in. What does your customer like to do, what kind of lifestyle do they lead (such as fitness lifestyle, for example), where can you go online to find like-minded consumers? These other online groups offer prime opportunities for you to reach your market.
Also, don’t just put your marketing out without follow-up. The Internet gives you the chance to deal directly with your clients, so engage them. Create a dialogue that allows for feedback and an avenue for you to promote new products.
And like other promotions, don’t expect instant hits. Allow time for your digital strategy to take off. “Many small businesses don’t give social media or digital marketing a chance to catch on. They ditch it after a few months thinking no one cared,” explains Baskin. “Social media and digital are like marathons that are 26.2 miles – not a 100m dash. It will take time. Stick with it, and it will all pay off.”
Baskin has a few tips on how to create a successful online marketing campaign:
1. Be honest in your marketing. Don’t make brand promises your products cannot keep.
2. Don’t try to be all things to all people. It is better to find your niche and own that lane.
3. Be consistent. Your audience will love your ability to stay at the top of people’s minds. If they remember you when they need your service or product, they will buy or recommend you. You are building trust.
4. Don’t be a message hog. Talk about other products or services or industry news on your digital channels. It can’t all be Sesame Street all the time.
5. Be human. There are humans on the other end of your digital marketing plan. They want to know your story. You are a small business owner and that is what makes you unique. Tell that story really well.