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A Guide to Marketing Your Business: 2020 Edition

StrategyDriven Marketing and Sales Article |Marketing Your Business 2020|A Guide to Marketing Your Business: 2020 EditionMarketing is an integral element for any business. From recent startups to long established organizations, continual promotion is necessary for a number of reasons. It allows a brand to become visible to new potential customers, it keeps them in the consciousness of current customers, and it can bring instant awareness to new products or services.

With this importance in mind, here’s a quick guide on marketing your business in 2020.

Conduct market research

Research is the basis for any solid plan. To develop a marketing strategy that will deliver results, you need to gain a deep understanding of your customers. What makes them tick? Which marketing methods convince them to purchase items? How have their tastes changed with current trends?

One of the best research methods is to look at the competition. See what they’re doing right and wrong, and use this information to your advantage.

Decide on a USP

When marketing a business, you have to decide on what to promote. While this can be the brand as a whole, the most effective plans are those that focus on a unique selling point. You have to provide potential customers with a reason to check out the business, and a USP helps to stand out from the crowd.

As for what the USP can be, this could be an affordable service or product with exceptional quality. If you are running an exclusive discount, say 30% off an item for one week only, this could help draw prospective customers in.

Select your tools

Picking the right marketing tools is, obviously, an essential aspect of advertising. Fortunately, there are many options available in that regard. Consider the following picks:

  • Social media
  • Pay-per-click ads
  • Content marketing
  • Email campaigns
  • Word-of-mouth
  • Flyers
  • Exhibit stand

Plus that’s just scratching the surface. Certain picks will require more money than others, and their level of effectiveness could differ on a business-on-business basis. Yet with the right research, you will have a firm grasp of which are the best choices.

Set a budget

Now you have the plan and tools in place, there’s one last element required before you can launch your marketing campaign: the necessary funding. The set budget for a promotional strategy can vary widely. It can cost thousands on a monthly basis, or it might not even require any money at all.

If outside financing is required, however, one of the best options is to acquire a loan. If your credit rating is in bad shape, Now Loans shows you can still acquire funding this way despite the hurdle.

Analyze the results

Even when the marketing campaign is well underway, there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done. You have to closely analyze your advertising ventures and see what’s producing results – and what isn’t generating conversions.

By studying these marketing techniques, you can constantly refine and improve your campaign. As with any component of business, you need to change with the times. A promotional tactic might become obsolete overnight, for instance.

Five Low-Budget Marketing Channels for Startups

StrategyDriven Online Marketing and Website Development Article |Low-Budgeting Marketing Channels|Five Low-Budget Marketing Channels for StartupsStartups face several challenges, especially during the first 5 years of the launch and none of the challenges is as precarious as struggling to remain cash positive. Operating under tight budgets makes it almost impossible for startup owners to set aside a marketing budget.

Often, the marketing gets the axe because startups are caught in a dire financial balancing act. Within the tight operating budget, they have to pay rent and employees, purchase raw materials and take care of the huge overhead costs. But, the absence of proper advertising and marketing strategy in place results in about 42% of startup businesses failing within the first 4 years.

In this post, you will learn that there’s no need to spend a fortune to effectively market your startup. You just have to choose the right marketing channels for your startup to get maximum output. Below are 5 affordable marketing strategies that will bring unbelievable consistency and visibility to your startup.

1. SMS Marketing

Initially, startups avoid SMS marketing thinking that it would annoy customers. But, studies suggest that SMS messages have an open rate of 98% and an average of 30% act on the massage. This high response rate should take care of any concern that you had regarding ROI.

Moreover, you can send messages to 1,000 people at the same time and at a fraction of the cost that other marketing channels would cost you like, TV, radio or even print.

Best practices to achieve success with SMS marketing:

  • Stick to 160 characters – In the world of SMS marketing, 160 is an important number. If your message goes over 160 characters, mobile networks will slice your message right down to the middle. Some networks even refuse to deliver messages that go over the character limit.
  • Timing is everything – Choosing the right time to send an SMS can make all the difference. For instance, restaurants send messages regarding offers two or three times a day at a time when people would be thinking about what to eat. So, you have to time your messages to reach your audience when they are making a buying decision.
  • Place a call-to-action (CTA) – CTA is a part of all marketing strategy and SMS marketing is no different. Here, your CTA should be in the form of phone number or a web address (URL).

2. Social Media Marketing

Statistics show that over 2.4 billion people use social media. So, it is important that this channel is incorporated into your startup’s marketing plan. As the presence of your business grows on social networking sites, more people will come to know of it and recognize your brand name. Moreover, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media networks, allow businesses to pay for exposure and traffic.

For example, Facebook Ads lets business owners create ads that appear in the news feeds of users or in the Facebook website’s right column.

Best practices to achieve success with social media marketing:

  • Create an account – Sign up on your preferred social media platform/s by creating an account, and complete your social media pages and profiles with company information, images and logo.
  • Attention-grabbing posts – Regularly post useful and engaging content to keep your audience hooked. The posts can be related to your products/services or it can be about the latest happenings around the world. A healthy mix is desired since nobody in the world of social media likes a bragger.
  • Join groups – Join niche-related groups to organically reach more people and choose the right target audience.
  • Stay connected – Be responsive and make sure to reply to every comment and message.

3. Email Marketing

Statistics show that 99% of consumers check emails every day and 73% of millennials prefer business communications, via emails. This makes email marketing one of the most low-budget and effective marketing strategies that claim a high ROI. As long as you have an organically curated email list and a steady, yet non-invasive stream of email blasts, you will see a significant return.

Best practices to achieve success with email marketing:

  • Attractive subject lines – The email open rates increase significantly when catchy, engaging and personalized subject lines are used.
  • Readable, well-formatted email body – The email should be written in simple, easy-to-read language and the content must be broken into small paragraphs with bullets and subheads. You need to focus the content on the benefits of your products/services and how it helps consumers.
  • Keep email subscribers engaged – Share 2 or 3 useful and valuable emails per week to keep your email subscribers engaged. But, avoid sending too many emails.

4. Content Marketing

Content marketing requires little investment, but gives incredible returns. This form of marketing has myriad approaches and you shouldn’t limit yourself. For a start, you can create a blog section in your company website to share with the world whatever your startup company is up to. You can share product/service details, information about new launches and so on. Use the blog section as to both entertain and educate your audience. Then, graduate to other forms of content like, videos, images, infographics and more.

Best practices to achieve success with content marketing:

  • Craft original blogs or articles – Do not resort to plagiarism or your website will be penalized by Google. Invest in the creation of interesting, informative and unique articles and blogs.
  • Create engaging videos – You can substitute your blogs or articles with images and even videos. Alternatively, you can just create videos to share company news. The videos can be posted on your website, social media accounts, YouTube and so on.
  • Include shareable links – Regardless of what content you are posting, make sure that they all have shareable links. You would want your audience to share the content so that your brand awareness spreads far and wide.

5. Search Engine Marketing

Search engine marketing or SEM is known to fetch instant results. Advertise your startup business on search engines and get more exposure, as well as, sales. Paid search allows businesses to get laser-targeted traffic from Google and other popular search engines. Bing Ads and Google Ads are two of the most popular paid search networks, and they both feature keyword targeting with a CPC (cost-per-click) model. You can create custom ads using either of these platforms and your ads will appear above the organic search results in the SERPs.

This is how ads appear on Google:

Best practices to achieve success with SEM:

  • Keyword research – Paid search is a highly-targeted form of marketing. This is why you need to invest in keyword research. Only the right keywords will make your ad visible to the right audience.
  • Enticing landing page – When a user clicks on your ad, he/she will be directed toward a landing page. If this page isn’t interesting enough or doesn’t offer much information, the user will bounce right off the landing page and go to a competitor website. So, create an alluring landing page and have clear-cut calls-to-action.
  • Set a bid cap – You do not want Google or Bing overcharging you. Since running ads are based on the CPC model, you need to set a budget limit and a bid cap. Once this limit is reached, the search engine will notify you.

The takeaway here?

When you find yourself struggling with your startup’s budget, do not resort to cutting marketing out of the equation. Find innovative ways to build brand recognition that don’t need a lot of upfront investment. Once your brand name is established and you have a steady stream of revenue, you will have the freedom to invest in more expensive strategies.

The Social Network: 5 Reasons Why You Should Hire a Social Media Manager (Now!)

StrategyDriven Online Marketing and Website Development Article |The Social Network |The Social Network: Why You Need a Social Media ManagerWe all know how important digital marketing is especially when it comes to social media. In fact, there are 3.81 billion social media users around the globe so each business is sure to find its target audience on social media.

Yet, as a business owner, it can sometimes become difficult to balance the task of creating content, engaging with followers, and just keeping up with social media in general.

This is where the job of a social media manager comes in to help manage the social network for your company.

Keep reading for our guide on the five reasons why you should hire a social media manager right away.

1. Brand Awareness

When you look into hiring social media managers you have the ability to find someone that can help bring more awareness to your brand through social media. As we mentioned before, there are tons of people already on social media so you will be sure to find your target audience there.

You need to find a social media manager with fresh and creative ideas that will bring brand awareness to your company. When you sit down to talk with potential social media managers you will want to find someone that believes in your company’s values and can show that through social media.

2. Save You Time

If you’re currently the one managing your social media, then you already know how time-consuming it can be. Hiring a social media manager for your social network can totally give you more time to move onto other things that you need to get done.

You can eliminate any thoughts or worry about your business’s social media accounts. Instead, put all of that energy towards different projects that pertain to your company. You will find that you’re getting a lot more done throughout your day.

3. Customer Interactions

Another great thing that social media managers will do is interact with customers on social media. There is a list of social networks that your social media manager will be in charge of for your company and each one will have tons of customers trying to contact you.

Your social media manager can help to answer any questions or concerns that customers have in a timely manner. This will help you out greatly and your customers will definitely appreciate this. Building a good relationship with your customers is important and your social media manager can help.

4. Generate New Customers

Besides keeping up with your current customers, a social media manager can also help you gain new customers! By creating content and keeping up with your social media your social media manager can help attract new followers.

These new followers will potentially be interested in your products and services and want to shop with you. It requires time and research to determine which types of content your target audience will be attracted to which is why you should hire a social media manager for this role.

5. Expand Your Team

One of the best reasons to hire a social media manager is because you can add a new friendly face to your team. Your social media manager is another person with thoughts and opinions to help drive your team in the right direction.

They can help come up with good campaigns to get your business’s name and products out there. Social media is an awesome place to market and they’ll be able to come up with awesome ideas to reach your target audience which makes them an awesome member to have on your team.

Managing the Social Network

Depending on your company, the social network could be a vast and complex place. You might have tons of different social media platforms that you want to keep up with which is why a social media manager can take over and help to strengthen your image online.

Make sure to check out our website for more tips and tricks to help your business!

How Social Media Changed Tourism Marketing

StrategyDriven Online Marketing and Website Development Article, How Social Media Changed Tourism Marketing

Social media has changed the way people communicate and exchange information. Because of this, industries in almost every sector have had to adapt to stay ahead of the curve. For some companies, making the switch was difficult. For others, the rise in social media has improved not only exposure but also the way companies market and do business. The travel and hospitality sector is one of those areas. Social media has become the most effective form of marketing since it allows exposure to your business organically. The travel industry has particularly benefited from this change.

There has been a rise in social sharing because of social media platforms. Over 97 percent of millennials share photos and videos of their travels online, according to Entrepreneur, and the travel industry is catching on. Some companies have encouraged their customers to engage with their business through social media.

Consumers turn to social media platforms to research places to visit and the best ways to travel. To find out places to travel, 89 percent of millennials plan travel activities based on content posted by their peers online. This is thanks to social media sites like Instagram, TripAdvisor, and Yelp. Though Facebook is not specific to travel like TripAdvisor, Facebook Recommendations allow its users to ask advice to their peers about the best cities to travel, which hotels to stay in, restaurants, and activities to do. All of these things essentially use word of mouth, which is the most effective form of marketing.

Social media has also impacted the travel agency sector. Once consumers have found a destination, they are likely to book on their own using their mobile devices. Break The Ice Media reports 35 percent of travelers have used mobile to book a tour or activity while already on location. Travel agencies have had to catch up to the rising trend focusing on selling experiences instead of materials. Self-booking has not completely knocked out the travel agency business model as they are responsible for 55 percent of airline bookings, 77 percent of cruise bookings, and 73 percent of package bookings, reports Entrepreneur.

Making it easier to communicate directly with consumers, social media has also allowed travel and hospitality companies to improve their customer service. Consumers utilize things like Trip Advisor, and Yelp to share customer satisfaction. Most companies also have a social media presence making it even easier for disgruntled or confused customers to reach out and share their dissatisfaction. Uhuru says when customers reach out to a brand on social media, over 50 percent expect a reply. This may sound like a customer service representative’s worst nightmare, but it is actually very good for the business. By quickly responding to comments on social media, they can easily improve their reputation. This helps consumers see your brand is professional and they feel valued as a patron. Listening to a customer’s complaints or concerns is another way to learn more about your customers, allowing your company to provide an excellent experience.

Turn to Multidimensional Employees for Identifying New Business Models

StrategyDriven Managing Your People Article |New Business Models|Turn to Multidimensional Employees for Identifying New Business ModelsCompanies can find untapped value in their employees when working to solve current challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic. This involves utilizing a Make Your Case initiative that allows employees to apply their unused skillsets and connections in opening up new ways for their companies to operate.

Surprisingly, employers don’t often care to know about or think to utilize the stockpile of unused resources their employees bring. They tend to view skills outside of their employees’ job descriptions as irrelevant to the scope of normal business operations. It’s possible that employers simply don’t see the value that such extraneous abilities or connections can generate.

But given the shockwaves reverberating from the market disruption that’s taking place, many normal business models are no longer operational, and new models must emerge. Companies would benefit from turning to the untapped expertise of their multidimensional employees for new ideas through Make Your Case solutions to the rising challenges.

For example, in this unprecedented shelter-in-place environment, consider the value inherent in the information sharing taking place through social media. Networks of people are utilizing their own knowledge and past experiences to advise others on meeting the challenge of remaining isolated in their homes. People share their experiences of living through hurricanes, surviving in post-war Kosovo, and living in a remote outpost in Alaska, for example, as tried-and-true ideas for working and remaining connected in difficult circumstances. The social media forum is a plethora of innovative solutions not only for connecting with co-workers and customers while sheltering in the place, but also remaining socially connected — think virtual happy hours.

Compare the diverse and innovative social media postings with some of the messaging coming from companies during this pandemic. The emails and posts coming from the business sector lack variety, color and the ability to engage. Companies regularly communicate that they are aware of the hardships to customers, vendors and employees during this time. Yet, besides possible changes in delivery methods or product discounts, the companies’ information lacks flavor and innovation.

Yet many of the same people with clever ideas on social media also work for companies who could use some creativity to their approach. These very people have experience in dealing with work disruptions or isolation, and they’ve accumulated amazing personal, social, and professional capital that can be utilized by their companies in their organizational recalibration.

Companies often acknowledge the importance of diversity. Yet, they tend to overlook opportunities to explore the diversity of experiences and interests that employees bring beyond their work responsibilities. But involving more diverse ideas will help in responding to this crisis. Companies will benefit from understanding that the diversity of multidimensional employees’ perspectives can be of enormous value to them.

In Make Your Case initiatives, companies invite employees to utilize their multidimensional core and contribute their original perspectives on challenges that the company currently faces. The process is similar to design thinking, with a different emphasis for idea creation. Instead of brainstorming a creative new idea, employees reference their multidimensional experiences outside of work and employ them in a proposed solution.

The Make Your Case process involves:

1. Outline the idea. Employees initially summarize their idea through the filter of the company’s case challenge to ensure their understanding of the challenge and its context. Make Your Case company reviewers make sure the idea is grounded in the appropriate context before inviting authors to continue.

2. Describe applicability of the solution. The authors illustrate their idea with a personal story of how the solution worked in other settings. As their ideas come from outside the work setting, it’s important to treat the Make Your Case solution as a proposal that may need more specifics.

3. Share ideas for implementation. Using what they know of the company, the authors indicate which parts of their proposed solution can be implemented immediately, and which will need additional resources. Company reviewers who are now vested in the idea will likely help facilitate finding resources and funding to expedite implementation of the solution.

4. Fine-tune specifics. Together with company reviewers, the authors tailor specifics of their solution to the company challenge. This includes providing an action plan of how the solution will be carried out.

Make Your Case initiatives engage employees by inviting them to demonstrate their unique multidimensional cores. By providing their innovative solutions and helping to implement them in a way that addresses a pressing challenge, employees are given an opportunity to craft their own edge within the company.

The company benefits from a pipeline of solutions that have been tested in other contexts and tailored to the reality of this particular challenge.


About the Author

Julia Ivy, PhD Psych, PhD Mgmt, is a strategy and international business executive professor and faculty director at Northeastern University. Her area of expertise is in bridging strategy and psychology in the concept of personal strategy. In addition to her academic work, she acts as an executive coach for those facing the “What’s next?” challenge. Her new book is Crafting Your Edge for Today’s Job Market: Using the BE-EDGE Method for Consulting Cases and Capstone Projects (Emerald Publishing, Oct. 7, 2019). Learn more at be-edge.com.