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WHAT YOU'LL GAIN FROM READING THIS POST
How relying too heavily on social media can hurt your business in the long run
Understanding the buyer journey and why different messages should be crafted according to the three different phases customers go through
Customizable resources for organizing and managing your marketing message across all platforms
In-depth explanation of my top three suggestions for marketing your business aside from social media
How small marketing tweaks add up to big progress over time
HOW TO BUILD THE CORE FOUNDATION OF YOUR MARKETING PROGRAM
Let's be honest, social media rocks for businesses. It's a great way for businesses to connect with their target market. Perks - it's super accessible, your target market likely uses it all the time, and it's easy.
The problem is that for many businesses, social media is their only form of marketing and they're left at the mercy of things like algorithm changes which control who sees their message and when.
Social media is an amazing tool to reach your target market, but for reasons below, it's important that your game plan also consist of marketing efforts aside from social media.
HOW RELYING TOO HEAVILY ON SOCIAL MEDIA CAN HURT YOUR BUSINESS IN THE LONG RUN
Think about it like this. If the bottom dropped out of social media, how would you connect with your target market? Would you even have a relationship established with potential customers anywhere else on the internet? Or would you have to start from scratch rebuilding the pool of leads you poured so much energy into creating in the first place?
Please take this to heart if you own a business, social media outlets have far more control over your message than you may realize, and if you foresee running your company long term (5-10 years), crafting a marketing mix (with social media as one slice of the pie among many) is crucial for the longevity of your business.
I recently went live on Simply Integrated's Facebook page to talk about why it's so crucial for the longevity of your business to build a strong core foundation for your marketing program. Watch the full video here:
Additionally, social media is SOCIAL. Friends and family likely make up a large percentage of your following. Has your message become saturated to those contacts? Of course your friends and family are always going to love you and support your efforts, but do their likes, engagement, and follows correlate to real dollars on your bottom line? Maybe? But maybe not. It's important to identify this point because having a ton of support from people who aren't likely to buy from you can convolute your understanding of what's really working.
What I’m saying is this. It’s hard to know whether your engagement on social media is converting into real leads unless you’re reaching potential customers outside of your core network of friends and family to build process that continually bring in new leads.
I say it time and again, and it’s worth repeating here. Marketing is about compounding. It’s about setting into motion small changes that compound to make a big difference over time.
WHERE DO YOUR CUSTOMERS FALL IN THE BUYER JOURNEY?
To talk about the marketing mix, we need to talk about the buyer journey. The main steps of the buyer journey are awareness, consideration and decision. Let’s go more in depth.
BUYER JOURNEY PHASE 1: AWARENESS
In order for someone to buy from you, they have to realize they have a problem or need in the first place. The length of this stage in the buyer journey depends on the potential customer. For someone with a great need for a product or service like yours OR for someone who adopts new ideas more readily, this stage in the buyer journey will likely be shorter. For someone whose need isn’t so strong, or who is considered a “laggard” in adopting new ideas, this phase may last longer.
At this stage, the potential customer is at the farthest point from making a purchase. Content that most appeals to potential customers in this stage is content that develops a relationship between you and them. They have to come to know, like, and trust you in order to see you as a solution to the problem. Hard sells here tend to be fruitless.
BUYER JOURNEY PHASE 2: CONSIDERATION
So the buyer has identified a want or need, and in the consideration stage the buyer is looking for a solution to that need or want. The buyer is moving closer to making an actual transaction in this stage.
Content that appeals most to customers in this stage is value-packed content that helps solve a problem they’re having and, at the same time, aligns your business as a solution to the problem they’re facing.
BUYER JOURNEY PHASE 3: DECISION
This is the last stage in the buyer journey. The customer is primed because they have come to know, like, and trust you, and they’ve also seen how you offer a potential solution to their problem. Now they have to make the decision whether they want to buy from you.
It’s important to point out that some potential customers will get to this stage and still not buy from you. For others, it may seem like eons that they’ve dwelled in this stage wallowing in indecision.
Consider this awesome graphic from www.SevenAtoms.com which takes the simple 3-stage process and expand it to include which types of content are best for customers in varying stages along the buyer journey.
So you see, not all messages should be crafted as a blanket effort to get people to buy from you. You must meet the lead where they are in the buying journey and guide them along the process using a mix of marketing channels.
KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER WELL...LIKE, REALLY WELL
Additionally, it’s absolutely crucial you know your target market well. And by “know them well,” I don’t just mean you know the basics like they’re a mom between the ages of 30-45 who live in your town and workout.
I’m talking about knowing the level of detail where you know what flavor syrup they order in their daily latte AND their favorite little hometown coffee shop. You really need to get far more detailed than just the basic, general demographic information to be able to effectively craft messages that deeply resonate with the people you’re trying to reach and help move them through the buyer journey.
Since nailing down their target market in exceptional detail is a challenge I’ve helped so many of my clients overcome, I created this Buyer Persona Template to help them and others do exactly that.
The "Buyer Persona" is sometimes referred to as a "client avatar" but it basically explains in detail who your target market is. Potato / pa-tat-o, people. You can easily access the Buyer Persona Template too and leverage it to help lay the groundwork for crafting effective messages for all of your content moving forward.
CRAFTING YOUR MARKETING MIX
So the bottom is not going to fall out of social media any time soon, clearly. However, as you craft the other slices of your marketing pie that make up your entire marketing program, consider the following:
- how to deliver value to your target market through other marketing channels
- how to get all of the moving pieces working together to help move potential customers through the buying process smoothly
- where your target market spends time online. One obvious one is in their inbox. Read on...
Once you have the working, moving pieces in your marketing plan, social media becomes the glue that solidifies your message and adds the cohesion and consistency instead of functioning as your sole strategy for delivering a message.
Note that one side of the continuum there are people SOLELY using social media as their marketing program and the opposite side of the continuum is where they're spread across too many channels (likely channels their target market isn't using) to be effective. We want to find that sweet spot right in the middle.
THREE CORE PILLARS OF YOUR MARKETING PROGRAM
There are three main pillars I believe every small company should establish to assure a firm marketing foundation over the longevity of a company’s existence. I actually created a free list of 25 Ideas to Market Your Business that you can print off or keep handy on your desktop, but I’ll go in-depth with my top three here:
1st PILLAR: EMAIL LIST
Your email list is going to be your bread and butter. Not everyone will open your emails, but most will likely see it in their inbox and acknowledge you exist. Even if they don't open it, it's still a touch point with potential customers. Contrast this to social media where some unknown algorithm controls whose eyeballs your message gets in front of. With email, your buyer controls whether or not they look deeper into your message - one less hoop to jump through.
Average open rates vary depending on the industry, but in general, a 25% open rate is normal. Some industries have an average open rate under 10% so do your research and find out what’s realistic for your company, industry, and target market so you can manage by numbers, tweak what’s working, and change what isn’t.
I use and love MailChimp (not an affiliate, just a fan). It has its limitations but so do all platforms. If you’re just starting out and establishing your email list, I feel strongly that MailChimp could be a really good fit for you too.
Side note - you can also create landing pages, ads, and postcards through MailChimp if you want to get real crazy with it.
2nd PILLAR: GOOGLE MY BUSINESS LISTING
Claim your listing. I just released a detailed blog post on the importance of claiming your Google My Business listing and I highly recommend reading it after you’re done with this post because it explains how having a Google Business listing can tremendously move the needle in your business if you leverage it strategically. For the sake of simplification, I’ll add my main points here and you can jump over when you're finished and read it in its entirety:
1. Powerful real estate in the top search engine
A Google My Business listing is positioned front and center at the top of the SERP (search engine results page). That's powerful considering Google has the large majority of search marketshare.
2. Ability to add posts about what’s going on in your business
A Google Business listing allows you to package up in post-style exactly what's going on in your business and present in an organized fashion front and center on the main search engine your customers are using! It doesn’t get better than that.
3. Easy access for customers to contact you
Again, let's talk about the ease of having the information customers are looking for right at their finger tips. Simple = higher conversion. With one click (err, tap since the majority of the market share is using mobile now) customers can reach out to you directly. Having instant access to you helps solidify the relationship.
4. Powerful analytics providing insight into your target market
Again, you can’t build, grow, and get better if you don’t know what’s working and what’s not. Managing by numbers allows you to understand hard and fast results indicating how your marketing messages are resonating and performing.
Click to read more about 4 Reasons to Claim Your Google Business Listing.
3rd PILLAR: BLOG
I know. I know. Blogging is time consuming. Why? Because it totally is and it can feel fruitless if you don't know how to do it right. Blogging’s gotten a bad reputation because people don’t know how to blog strategically. So if you're going to be spending time doing it, you might as well learn how to do it right and effectively.
It all goes back to the basics of SEO. If you know the basics of SEO for creating and managing content, your blog can and will (over time) become the top driver of organic traffic (i.e. new, fresh, precious, oh-so-wonderful leads).
I recommend EVERYONE become familiar with the basics of on-page SEO because a few simple basics implemented in your blogging efforts and across every piece of content you create (new website pages, social media posts, Google My Business content, email content) can make a tremendously incredible difference in ensuring your message resonates and reaches an audience of people who are already looking for your product or service.
Bottom line - there’s an insane amount of strategy that goes into leveraging a blog to drive organic traffic and it’s really a lot more simple and un-technical than you might imagine. If you can create a website, blog, or email list, you can nail down the basics of on-page SEO.
I created this On-Page SEO Basics resource because I was talking to so many business owners who could benefit from an organized resource like this that I decided to make the information accessible to anyone who wants it.
Spending a few hours digging in and understanding the basic concepts could totally change the game for you as a business owner.
WRAP UP: WHY MARKETING IS LIKE THE SNOWBALL EFFECT
When you implement a handful of core, basic principles with all of your content creation - all of the marketing messages you send out - the results tend to positively compound over time.
[Side note - Having a repeatable system for managing all of your content allows you to batch efforts for efficiency and develop a consistent and cohesive message to help move prospective clients smoothly move through the buyer journey. This Marketing Content Calendar Matrix will help you do exactly that.]
What does 'compounding over time' mean? It means there is no magical light switch you’re just about to happen upon. Sorry. There is no single sudden bomb you’re going to stumble on that will instantly make buyers swarm to your message.
It didn’t happen overnight for the people you see who have made it big - bloggers, ecommerce sites, etc. They started with a good idea and they understood how to share ideas with other people and build over time. It may have happened more quickly for some than for others, but it happened over time for everyone regardless of how it appears. They all started somewhere. That can be you, but you have to start somewhere too.
Five years from now when your marketing program is working congruently and consistently like clockwork, you’ll look back and know it’s because you took the time to carefully craft a marketing process that complemented your needs, your target market, and your business model, but you have to start somewhere. Make sure someday is today!
Since I offered several resources you may be interested in, I’ll mention them again so you can move forward grabbing them if they fit your needs.
WANT AN EASY BUTTON? Click to download all of the valuable resources (free and paid) I mentioned within this post.
WHAT WE COVERED ABOUT MARKETING YOUR BUSINESS ASIDE FROM SOCIAL MEDIA
- Why relying too heavily on social media can hurt your business in the long run
- Understanding the buyer journey and why different messages should be crafted according to the three different phases
- Customizable resources for organizing and managing your marketing message across all platforms
- In-depth explanation of my top three suggestions for marketing your business aside from social media
- How small marketing tweaks add up to big progress over time.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
For proper introductions, I'm Francie. I started my business, Simply Integrated, in 2015 and have fallen madly in love with teaching small business owners how to run their companies more successfully and marketing to impact bottom line profitability.
My knowledge and experience comes from earning an MBA and from coaching small business entrepreneurs while managing and marketing their projects. I focus solely on business strategy and marketing and created this blog to help others run more successful businesses. If you’re interested, you can read more about me on the About page of Simply Integrated’s website.
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