Are you and your company doing marketing? Most probably yes, you are! However, marketing is just an umbrella term for carrying out different activities which are supposed to bring your product or service closer to your audience.
When you own or work in a small-medium enterprise, there might not be enough budget available for consulting a marketing company, or maybe, your enterprise just doesn’t want to spend money on external advice because “doing marketing is easy and it would be foolish to waste money on paying so called experts”. Well this is partially true, marketing isn’t that difficult if you know how to do it the right way, and even if you don't, most likely you just need some quick updates to get back on track!
In this article, we'll mention some outdated marketing tools/techniques which are still widely used and should definitely be avoided if you'd love to see any return on marketing expense. We will then talk about online marketing and about some of the pros & cons which come with it. Last but not least, we will try to figure out together whether you should go for the do-it-yourself marketing or hiring a marketing expert to take care of it.
OLD HABITS NEVER DIE
In 2017 we still encounter too many companies which are implementing outdated marketing strategies and thus paying astronomical prices for probably nothing in return. For example, a client recently sent us an inquiry related to the restyling of its old website and in this occasion, we noticed one of their advertising strategies: they were still buying advertising space in phonebooks, and the same phonebook company was "taking care" of their web presence. Most importantly, all of this came for a price which could be considered all but cheap! Now the question is, how many of us still have a phonebook at home? And if you have one, how often do you consult it? Let me guess your answer... Never!
Is this all about paper? No, it's not. Printed ads and informational material can still be very beneficial to your business but the "printing & hanging" way can also become pretty expensive, so it is always a good idea to think your strategy through and to reflect on whether it is a good idea or not to print something in the first place. Is it sustainable to spam a whole country with giant printed ads? Who and how many people will see and read your posters? How many flyers will end up in the trash without ever seeing the reflection of some human eyes? What would I achieve if I dedicated the same budget to online marketing instead? These are just some of the questions you should ask yourself and your marketing team - if you have one - before opting for a printed campaign.
Nonetheless, each specific context requires an individual evaluation and therefore it's never right to say that online marketing is better than the traditional one, although it is definitely true that online marketing is incredibly better at two things: meeting the right target independently from customers' physical location, and giving you a clue about how your marketing campaign is performing. Yet, online marketing can be hard and time consuming, so even if you are already adopting strategies such as social media advertisement, there is still a high chance you could do it more efficiently, hence saving some money and selling more of what you have got.
SWITCHING TO ONLINE MARKETING
So, what can be done differently? To answer this question, you have to ask yourself: what is the difference between promoting your product in a phonebook or on Facebook?
Well, the main difference is that a phonebook as well as the company behind it have no clue about who you are, where you are located and what you do in your life while Facebook and similar tools know practically everything about you, and of course, also about your customers. These facts together with the always increasing number of people who are connected to the internet (50% globally - 77% in Europe - 88% in North America) make online marketing the most efficient way to reach your target.
You still have some doubts? Then you should also consider that already between 2013 and 2014 the number of people accessing the internet from their mobile devices exceeded the number of people accessing it from computers (source). What does this mean? Well, nothing else than your target being reachable literally everywhere while connected with smartphones and tablets.
Accessing the web is now possible even while you are flying with several airways!
Marketing your company, services and products online in a professional way might require a deep knowledge about the world of internet, including all dynamics related to search engines (for example Google, Bing and Yahoo), to social media (for example Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram) and to a bunch of other frequently used terms such as WordPress, CMS, E-commerce, metatags etc. Furthermore, keeping track of what you were able to achieve thanks to your online marketing strategies requires the definition of statistical goals and the implementation of a precise monitoring plan. But if you're just starting and cannot afford to hire a marketeer to take care of all that stuff, it doesn't necessarily mean you should renounce to online marketing.
For instance, the web is full of free resources - just think of YouTube tutorials - which makes it easy to learn relatively complex things very quickly, and this is especially true when talking about online marketing tools - we'll come back to this later. But let's say you run a brand new little hipster caffé downtown and you have absolutely no time to spend on video lessons, should you renounce to online marketing this time? Once again, the answer is NO! The least you can do is also what you do every day, sharing content on social media, for free.
Of course, this is not a permanent solution, but in the short term or at least until your activity gains some stability, providing your target with some attractive content to be scrolled with their thumb might be the best move possible if we consider that nearly everybody has a social media account. All you need to get started is an ad hoc profile (Twitter and Instagram) or a business page (Facebook and LinkedIn), a squared profile image, a nice cover picture, a small description of what you do and finally... some original ideas to get people talking about you and your products.
Now let's assume instead that besides running your local business, you also feel comfortable with your computer & internet skills, so you are not scared about getting an insight into the world of online marketing and its infinite challenges. What are the next steps for you?
First of all, try to get the "big picture". Understanding which kind of activities fall under the online marketing category will help you spotting the knowledge you already have as well as the things you still need to learn; and don't forget, writing down a list is never a bad idea.
For example, let's pretend that online marketing is composed of three main branches which are "search engine optimization (SEO)", "online reputation" and "social media marketing". Each of these branches will then include a wider set of activities - or subpoints - to be carried out; for instance, if you work in the tourism sector, under "online reputation" you could have the management of Yelp, TripAdvisor and Google reviews.
Indeed, especially when we talk about advanced instruments such as Facebook Ads, Google AdWords and Google Analytics, each activity will require some in-depth research and training. Usually, all advanced tools provide you with their own guides and learning channels and if that's not enough you can always rely on free YouTube tutorials, or again, you could enrol in premium online courses on platforms like Skillshare, Udemy and Udacity.
Lastly, keep in mind that online marketing is not rocket science, which also means nobody will ever be able to provide you with the perfect and ultimate "online marketing checklist" you'd love to have in your hands. Nonetheless, we were able to retrieve a pretty good one by White Hat Media - you can download it here - which is worth taking a look even if just want to get inspired to write your own list. No panic, it's all about figuring out which branches, subpoints and activities you are going to have on your to-do list!
TIME FOR EXPERTS
There is one last case we didn't discuss about... You have been working hard and your business starts to benefit from a stable income, probably it is the right time to focus on what you do best: your job.
Improving operative workflows related to sales, internal communication, inventory management, customer care, service quality and so on requires most of your time, skills and dedication. Therefore, allocating further efforts to the communication process might imply paying less attention to your daily work, fact that could cause negative consequences on the way customers experience your products and perceive your company.
In light of this, if you want to take your marketing strategy to the next level there might not be a solution other than finding the right marketing partner. Freelancer marketeers as well as marketing agencies dedicate all of their time to business communication, gaining like this an incredible insight into marketing technologies and professional tools which make their work faster and more precise. More importantly, the fast evolution of the world wide web requires a continuous updating process to keep up with the latest digital trends, making it nearly impossible for "part-timers" to keep an eye on what has being changing.
Finally, acknowledge that finding a good marketing partner that will work for a low but reasonable budget won't be easy. What we would suggest is to base your choice on what your potential partner has already done and achieved. Portfolios are the best tool to understand the actual skills of an agency or professional, don't make a move before you are given one to browse and enjoy with calm. Also, make sure the one you pick has a nice-looking website and a good reputation - at a local level or even on Google and Facebook.
Ready to get the stone rolling? Take your next step and bring some innovation to your daily working routine, start communicating the best part of yourself.
Follow us on the social media to stay posted, we'll be right back with more web-marketing articles for you to take off!