Building a small business is exciting and fulfilling. Each day brings new challenges for you to meet. You never know when you’re going to earn your big break and are constantly on the lookout for new opportunities.
An effective marketing campaign can make all the difference during the growth cycle of your business. A good campaign improves brand awareness, brings new customers to your business, and helps you reinforce your identity.
Creating an effective campaign is easier than ever before, too. You can lean heavily on digital marketing strategies that are low-risk and high-reward.
Creating a consistent brand ensures that your consumers know who you are and what you stand for. But, in an age where every business is trying to leave its mark on consumers, creating a brand that sticks can be tricky.
You can strengthen your brand identity by creating a clear vision and mission statement before you start creating branded materials. Good branding revolves around your mission statement and supports your wider business plan.
Once you’ve created a mission statement, consider how you want your branded materials to “sound.” Having a clear tone and voice that resonates with consumers can do wonders for your marketing campaign. So, consider whether you want a voice that is playful and informal or sophisticated and inspirational.
Create a style guide to keep everyone on the same page. This will ensure that all of your employees use the same colors, fonts, logo, slogans and more while developing branded materials. It will also speed up the production process and reduce your costs, as you won’t have to spend time and money reimagining your business every time you communicate externally.
Whatever you do, be consistent in your messaging, which is the way your brand “speaks” or represents itself. Brand messaging helps convey your value proposition and must align with your organization’s vision and mission statement as well as tone and voice. Consistent messaging across time and channels will help make your brand more memorable as well as credible.
Budgeting for a Campaign
Digital marketing materials don’t have the same high costs as traditional marketing (e.g. printed materials, postage). However, you still need to earmark budget for digital marketing to improve the odds that your campaigns are effective.
Keep an eye on your cash flow while budgeting for marketing expenses. As a small business, you need to keep your cash flow positive, as you probably don’t have much slack in your finances. You can calculate your cash flow by totaling cash from operating fees, investment activities, and financial activities. This will give you an understanding of your current budget, so you don’t overspend on marketing campaigns.
The way you spend on marketing depends on your current skills and the needs of your business. As a small business, you probably can’t outbid larger competitors on things like keywords. But, you can hire web developers to create the best site for your brand.
To make better marketing investments,you’ll want to make sure a campaign’s marketing objective aligns with at least one of your business’s goals and campaign results are properly tracked.
Identifying Objectives and KPIs
Establishing your campaign’s marketing objective and associated key performance indicators (KPIs) to track are an essential part of every effective marketing campaign. Setting the right marketing objective helps ensure your key campaign inputs (e.g. budget, target audience, channels, creative) align with high-impact or high-priority business goals. Selecting the right KPIs based on your marketing objective, will help you assess if you’ve been effective at achieving that objective.
Ultimately, the purpose of KPIs is twofold: to help you understand how your marketing campaign is performing and inform what to do next. For example, if you notice your Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) is low, then you may look into ways to reduce your expenditures without negatively impacting results or improve campaign effectiveness (e.g. by adjusting your targeting or messaging). Alternatively, if you notice a high ROAS, you may want to consider allocating additional budget to extend the campaign.
Understanding Digital Marketing
Digital marketing is all but replacing physical marketing campaigns for small businesses. But, before you completely turn your back on mailers and billboards, you need to understand the basics of digital marketing.
This includes search engines, social media, as well as email. A good digital marketing strategy will be well-rounded and should rely on multiple channels to operate effectively — make sure you’re doing your market research, so you know which channels your target market most actively uses.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Since nearly everybody uses search engines, your digital marketing campaign will also rely on effective SEO to help consumers find your business. Effective SEO can boost your ranking on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS) and bring more consumers to your business’s website.
Learn to boost your SEO by enrolling in free courses like those offered by Google Analytics or Semrush. Eventually, you may need to enroll in paid subscriptions to better track and manage your SEO data. However, as a small business, you can still get by with a basic understanding of metrics that relate to reach and engagement.
Organic and Paid Social. All the social media platforms offer ways for small businesses to reach platform users for free by setting up a presence on the platform and posting organic content for free. These can be used to engage with existing customers as well as reach people not aware of your brand. Unfortunately, it can take large amounts of time and effort to build awareness through organic content. That’s where paid content (i.e. ads) comes in. Again, invest only in platforms your target audience uses.
Advertising on social media is generally straightforward and consistent across major platforms like Meta, TikTok, and (for B2B) LinkedIn. To create an ad campaign, you’ll first need your business to establish a presence on the platform. Once that’s done, the process for creating an ad campaign generally follows these steps: select your campaign/marketing objective, set your campaign budget, define audience targeting attributes, choose the ad’s format (e.g. single image vs. video), and enter/upload your ad imagery, copy, and destination for users who click on the ad. Note: ads are reviewed by platforms to ensure they don’t violate the platform’s policies, and it may take 24 hours or more for an ad to start running (longer if your ad has been flagged as in violation and requiring updates).
Once your campaign is running, platforms will show results in real time. Generally, the KPIs presented in your campaign’s reporting are aligned with the marketing objective you selected and include ad spend and cost per result to help you calculate your ROAS. Be sure to check results the first day your campaign launches to catch any errors; if you see anomalies (e.g. zero clicks), you can pause your campaign to avoid wasting money while you troubleshoot (e.g. wrong language or target audience accidentally selected.
Email. The oldest digital channel is still highly relevant in 2022. Email marketing can be an effective way to engage with prospects, existing customers, as well as attrited customers and those at risk of attrition. Be sure you know who’s who and keep your lists up to date, so you’re reaching the right people with the right message.
The Metaverse. If you’re particularly tech-oriented, you may wish to start marketing in the metaverse. Big brands like Gucci and Estée Lauder have already built momentum in the metaverse and are using consumer behavior data to better tailor their offerings to digital consumers — of course, this is completely dependent on whether your target audience is using the metaverse in the first place.
You can grow your small business by using digital marketing to reach new and existing customers in cost-effective ways. Just be sure you and your marketing team are aligned on branding, business goals, and budget before they start generating content online. This will give marketers clear direction and help ensure your digital strategies are on point and deliver results.
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