5 Questions Answered on Small Business Marketing Strategy

Figuring out a marketing strategy when you’re the owner of a small business can seen daunting.

Before you start worrying about marketing, though, it’s important to learn the most you can about your business and set goals that can help you succeed first.

Knowing what demographics you’re going to market to as well as how your product will help your customers is essential. This knowledge allows you to maximize your marketing exposure and keep your business organized.

Once you have a foundation down, we can start to dig in a little deeper.

Here are 5 important questions on marketing for small businesses, answered:

  1. What are four marketing tricks that SMBs can learn from Fortune 500 companies?
First, large companies believe that they can be known for something, but their egos can get in the way when they start to just talk about themselves. Small companies are often better able to maintain the important focus on customers and become known as true thought leaders in their space. I help SMBs to craft customer-focused mission statements to guide their strategy
Since small companies have less technical infrastructure, I’ve seen them out maneuver their larger peers with better customer experiences on their website, more authentic and engaging content and more interaction on social media.
Smaller companies also tend to have more passionate employees who are willing to create engaging content, interact on social, and even drive referrals for customers and new recruits. SMBs should identify this strength early on and focus on employee and customer engagement as part of their marketing strategy.
Finally, retention is the secret to a high ROI Marketing strategy. In larger companies, working closely with existing customers can become secondary to driving growth. SMBs face similar pressure for different reasons. But the math behind the growth engine is different for SMBs. They need growth with lower investment. Customer Retention programs are the best way to achieve high ROI with little investment.

2. Where should marketers be focusing today when designing marketing campaigns?

I hate the word ‘campaign.’ It’s everything that’s wrong with marketing today.

Today’s customers and buyers are always searching online for information, education and solutions to their problems. The smart marketers are creating always-on programs to answer this need. That includes educational and non-promotional thought leadership, activating employees in content creation and social engagement, and then creating and testing the right paths to conversions.

3. What are four keys for wildly successful digital marketing programs?

Wildly successful marketing programs are always running. They are always testing the right content or message. They are always tweaking the audience filters and targeting parameters. They are always optimizing the visual elements of the program. And they are always testing conversion paths. Being always on is the key.

4. How should SMBs approach campaign development today, and where do they typically go wrong?

SMBs can sometimes be so desperate to deliver on the sales or lead goals, that we focus too much on the last stage of the buying process. Marketing programs should match the buying process as much as possible. This means creating a lot of content at the early stages. On average, for every one customer, there are 100 people in the early stages of the buying journey. These are people who know they have a problem but are not even sure what the solution is. Explain it and why it’s important (no product yet!) For every buyer there are 10 people in the middle-stages. These folks are looking for deeper how-to education. Spend time helping them (not too much product yet). Now you’ve earned a right to talk about who you are what you sell and why you are better.

5. What are your four best tips for designing customer journeys?

We love in a digital world where it’s relatively easy to see what your customers need at each stage of their journey. We can simply use Google auto-fill or related searches to tell us what content to create. If I’m selling content marketing strategy services, I know that people want content marketing strategy tools, templates and examples because Google auto-fill or related searches told me that’s what most people are searching for.

Once you’ve created a list of topics, you can group them into categories and use Google Trends to tell you which categories of content and topics are more important for your customer journey relative to each other.

We can use other tools to tell us what questions we should be answering with our content at each stage of the buyer journey, and which channels are most important to our customers. For B2B businesses, LinkedIn might be the place to be. But if you’re in fashion, you have to be on Instagram for example. Don’t leave these decisions up to your gut. We can quantify the impact of each of these approaches.

Finally, we need to measure our efforts. Are you showing up on the first page for the search terms your customers are using at each stage of the buyer journey? Identify the top 15-20 search terms your customers use across their journey and track your visibility or position relative to your competition. And remember that online, your competition might be an online publication or a mommy blogger.

Michael Brenner  is a Top CMO, Content Marketing and Digital Marketing Influencer, an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula" and he is the CEO and Founder of Marketing Insider Group, a leading Content Marketing Agency . He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael helps build successful content marketing programs for leading brands and startups alike. Subscribe here for regular updates.

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