Every business knows how important it is to market itself. To establish its existence in the industry and neighborhood – and to entice customers of other establishments to take a chance for something possibly better.
Marketing is crucial no matter how small or big your business is, and that’s never changed. What has changed, however, is the toolset with which businesses can equip themselves to tell tale of their grand products and services. In the far flung past, pamphlets and bulletins and local papers helped companies market themselves, alongside unique signage and street vendors. As media evolved, so did the methods – radio and eventually television came into existence, and dominance.
Today, it’s the Internet. And digital marketing and once again revolutionized the way companies and businesses get people to agree on the fact that their product is worth spending money on.
In its infancy, it might’ve been reasonable to suggest that the Internet, while possessing immense potential, isn’t quite ready to become a mainstream outlet for any and every business of all possible sizes to congregate and market themselves.
That time came, at the very latest, five years ago – or even a few years earlier, with the arrival of the smartphone. And since then, the need for every mom and pop store, brick and mortar shop and even lemonade stands to get online has only become more and more pressing.
But marketing on the internet isn’t something anyone can just get started in without a little preliminary knowledge. The Internet is vast, it’s complicated, and it’s extremely easy to get lost in all of it. So if you’re a small local business, and you’re not sure how to allocate your resources online, here’s a very succinct little guide for you.
The Tenets of Digital Marketing
Digital marketing is a vast and complicated field of study, and it deserves its own respective library for the amount of information and truly useful data written up on the subject. The internet has, more than anything else, allowed us to analyze and create data like never before, and because of the profitability of applying that to business, the “surefire best way” to market online is constantly changing.
That being said, there are very basic tenets to marketing that have always been present, with each one gaining and losing influence with time. These basic tenets are:
Content: You need content if you want to do anything online. Obviously your website matters, but that’s just a collection of static pages that allow you to keep customers up-to-date on what you’re offering, and how best to get it.
What you really need is a blog, a video content platform, a social networking presence for social media, and a myriad of other content options to take advantage of one of the most important things on the Internet: search engines. Search engines rank you and your content based on its quality, frequency and reliability – so consistent, quality content not only attracts readers and viewers and potential customers, but it also nets you new ones through Google, Yahoo and Bing’s search algorithms.
Advertising: With content out of the way, the next important step is paid advertising. While content technically is advertising, you’ll want a straightforward strategy on how to spend your bucks advertising directly online.
Banner ads are still effective when done well, but search engine and social media pay-per-click ads are most common and effective due to how much time people spend Googling things or being on Facebook.
Reputation Management: The last thing on the list is something that has become insanely important with the growth of social media – reputation management. Social networks have made gossiping and word-of-mouth more powerful than ever – and if you really want to know if something works or is worth buying, all you need to do is snoop around the right places online to find candid rave reviews or honest (and angry) rants.
An angry customer is ticking time bomb. Not only will they stop buying from you – they will tell everyone they know to stop buying from you. And that includes people on the Internet. You need to be sharp and use social networks to make sure your customers know what really matters most: they do.
With these simple rules, you’re almost good to go (but not quite). The real question is what should you worry about most? And the answer depends. Content is important, but time consuming. Customer relations are the one thing you should always do yourself. And paid advertising may not work in certain industries, due to the budgets of your competitors.
The best idea is to consult with a professional to tailor a marketing plan that best suits you – or tinker around with how much legwork you can handle alone.