Small Business Marketing
Do you buy into the hype?

Sometimes it feels as though a new marketing channel is being launched every day. You’ve just got a handle on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram and along comes Snapchat, guest blogs and now paid social ads – what’s that all about!?

Each channel loudly vies for business owners’ attention. Pick me! Pick me! Look what I can do for you! It can feel an impossible task to keep up and select the right mix. What’s more, it’s all too easy to get sucked into the hype and waste precious time exploring the possibilities of the ‘next big thing’ in marketing when it’s not really a viable option for you and your brand.

As a marketing consultant I hear this statement, or a variation of it, all too often:

I’m not getting leads because I’m not on [insert new shiny channel here].

Despite the hype, it may not be suitable for your business at all. The problem can often be that these businesses are simply not using their current channels in the most effective way. Or they are concentrating their time and resources on a channel that isn’t the most effective for their business.

So let’s just stop right here for a second and ask one simple question:

Where are my ideal customers and what channels do they use?

You shouldn’t get attached to any single channel before you’ve done your research. In fact, you shouldn’t get attached to one channel anyway – things change, and often all too quickly, in the digital marketing space.

So how do you go about choosing your channel mix?

Take baby steps before you leap into the ‘next big thing’. Here are six tips to guide you through the process:

1. Ask your customers which channels they use.

This sounds all too obvious (have you done it ?) but of course if you have a business where you don’t have direct contact with your customers to ask them in person you will have to be inventive in the way you approach them. Maybe an online questionnaire on your site or in an eNewsletter with a prize dangled as a carrot could get you the responses you need. Remember, people are short on time and you need to appeal to their WIIFM radar (‘what’s in it for me?’ – a great acronym to remember for all of your marketing content too).

2. Research new online channels you’re considering

Find out the prime demographics the channel is targeting. If the channel is aimed at teenagers and your customers are high net worth mature professionals then that channel is clearly not for you (no matter how much you want to use it!). Do an online search for comments and feedback on the channel and case studies of other businesses similar to yours who gave the channel a try. What successes did they have? What didn’t work out for them and why?

3. What different options does the channel have for you to engage with prospects?

Can you post articles or images targeted at attracting the attention of your ideal customer? Can you engage with them via comments? Can you advertise and indirectly build your email list? You need to ask yourself all these questions (and more) and then look at the answers in relation to your marketing objectives. Do they correlate?

4. Consider your marketing goals.

What are you using the channel for? Are you looking for lead generation, building awareness or educating people? Are you aiming to sell more of your product or looking to build trust in your service? Your marketing goals will influence your choice of channels to concentrate on.

5. Consider your budget.

What resources – both time and money – are you prepared to invest in setting up and maintaining a presence on each of your chosen channels? Especially with new ‘free’ digital channels, there is a big perception that because the initial platform has no financial cost that it’s a free option and businesses can therefore ‘afford’ to participate on multiple channels.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The strategy, time and patience it takes to develop a lead generating presence on a new digital channel, far out ways the cost (in people hours) that it takes to develop and place a series of print adverts (for example). However, because the physical cost isn’t as immediately obvious, this often gets forgotten.

6. Consider what resources/skills you have for implementation.

Do you have the time and skills to maintain a presence on each channel yourself? If not, what budget do you have to engage other people to assist you (see point 5). You may benefit from hiring a social media manager, graphic designer and/or copywriter to streamline your processes and ensure that your brand is consistently producing great, on brand content.

So don’t be taken in by the hype and jump right into the ‘next big thing’. Follow the above steps and make a considered choice about whether it’s right for you and your brand and aligns with your marketing goals before you dive right in.

And if you’re still unsure about where to start, give us a shout. We’re happy to help you navigate the marketing channel maze.