As a small business owner, you keep a careful ear out for what’s happening in the world of marketing. After all, a terrible thing happens when you don’t advertise your business: Nothing!
Without strategies for getting buzz generated about you and what you do for a living, you have no chance of surviving your first month, let alone your first year. There are plenty of effective strategies for getting your brand out there and recognized by consumers—what are some of the most effective ones?
Internet is queen
When you’re trying to get into the head of a consumer, think about the ways you do your own research about a company. Where is the first place you go when you’re trying to find out more about a business? Go online, of course.90 percent of customers admit to researching a company before actually doing business with them, which puts into perspective just how critical it is to have a website for your company.
A stellar website that grabs peoples’ attention while delivering well-thought-out, interesting content is essential for marketing nowadays. Understanding how to effectively use tools like CSS and HTML as well as widgets such as Inspect Element are becoming increasingly more important as the world goes digital so that your website stands out against your competition. What are some crucial elements that need to be included on the site for any business, small or huge?
- An About section. Now’s your chance to share your story with the world. Why do you do what you do? Why do you have a passion for your company? Where did you found it and what are you most proud of?
- Clear, consistent navigation. Who wants to hunt and peck for what they’re looking for on a company’s website? Make yours simple to navigate through and don’t mess with funky background colors or fonts too much; clashing colors can hurt people’s eyes.
- Contact information, including your phone number, email address, physical address and hours of operation. Nobody wants to be caught with a burning question only to find nobody to speak to.
Why SEO is the best business partner
You’ve probably heard the term SEO floating around, but do you know what it is? SEO is a technique for doing exactly what it sounds like: Optimizing search results. Clear as mud? Here’s a quick breakdown:
- Let’s say you are a coffee roasting company. If you were to use a search engine (we’ll use Google) to find businesses like yours, what might you look for? “Locally roasted coffee,” for example, or “coffee roasters near me.”
- Using keywords like these into your website content like blog posts is a great, sneaky way to take advantage of SEO. The more times that you repeat them the more likely they are to yield results into Google, but remember not to meaninglessly stuff them into your content without context. Use them as needed or else your online voice will come off as stiff and robotic.
- Watch the numbers for your website traffic climb higher and higher every month.
Some marketing consultants make SEO their specialty. Things like professional software that can track trending hashtags, keywords and search terms is available to them and can generate real-life data and results. Marketing consultants know how to use data to your advantage and help you to know what keywords are trending and willhelp boost internet traffic.
SEO isn’t limited to your website, either
Any social media that you use is subject to SEO as well and can help you gauge what kind of hashtags and related content could help you. Who knows, maybe a hashtag that you create for your business will go viral one day; awesome marketing campaigns are only one way to make a business memorable. Other places online that can make the most of SEO might include:
- Flyers and newsletters to clients via email
- Your blog section
- Social media posts (and hashtags!)
Don’t forget, people can be mean
As traffic increases and your brand becomes a household name, remember that with the sweet comes the salty—and oh boy, can people be salty. The more people you are exposed to, the greater your chances of being subject to negative attention too—so be prepared to answer some less-than-friendly online reviews. Remember, as a professional you don’t only respond to the nice reviews from people who were kind to you. It speaks better for your professionalism and your character when you respond to all of them: Good, bad, ugly or downright brutal.
The golden rule when you’re responding to a negative review is to calm down before doing it. You’ve poured everything you have into this business and seeing it torched online can make you see red, tempting you to fire back with every name and bad word you know. DO NOT DO THAT. Emotion + the internet = trouble. Wait until your head is clearer and you’ve had a moment to digest what you read; even though you might strongly object to everything they said, you need to take responsibility for responding to them. Follow the rules of etiquette and be okay that you can’t and won’t change everybody’s mind. Deal with the criticism, do what you can to rectify it and move on. Show the world that you’re tougher than a few words online!
Secondly, refrain from name-calling, foul language or being overly confrontational, since you will look unprofessional, childish and people will not take you seriously. A decent percentage of people who leave negative reviews only tell part of the story and only want to get a rise/freebie/comp of some sort from the owner. Treat every reviewer like you would treat your grandmother: Polite, calm and with a sweet tongue.
Understanding the world of marketing in today’s world is not always an easy task, but to grow your business, it’s a worthy one. Keep your marketing tactics up-to-date and do what you can to increase online traffic—which will hopefully translate into foot traffic.