Editor’s Note: This is part three in a three-part series on Marketing for Small Businesses.
Marketing a small business has never been more difficult than it is today. Poll after poll, the cost and understanding of modern digital marketing and social media has consumed business owners like never before.
Why? Digital marketing was so easy. You were posting on social media, had a decent website, and if you just invested a little time and money, you would get more calls than you could handle.
Here’s why: Google and Facebook are two of the richest companies in the world, especially because digital marketing was so easy. When companies started to have noticeable success in reaching new customers (around 2011-2017), every small business rushed to try the same.
Suddenly, the relatively open world of digital marketing got crowded. It’s all about supply and demand, and as the demand grew, both from businesses like yours and your potential customers, Google and Facebook changed that.
First, they found other ways to get money from you. Second, they forced your website, social media posts, videos, directories to get better and better. And the more they asked you, the more money you spent. And the more money you spent, the more your competition was forced to try even bigger things and spend more money.
It’s pretty straightforward, if you can understand the whole supply-demand concept.
The Big Mistake of Small Business Marketing
You see, the problem with digital marketing is that we don’t understand the natural progression of how marketing works. It doesn’t matter if you are advertising on a search engine or on a bathroom booth. Most people have been fooled by all of these pop-up digital agencies into thinking that marketing today is all about research and reach, interactions and directories.
In the process, we made the biggest mistake of all: we forgot that all good marketing starts with a great story. We forgot that the message matters. And the problem is, we all want to skip the most important work, launch our ragged brands and messages on social and digital platforms, spend thousands of dollars, and expect immediate returns.
Sure, you can tell you’re different – and there are notable exceptions to this rule – but the reality is that small businesses are going to be pushed further and further away from their customers, and they’re going to spend a ton of money. money in the process of failure.
There is no shortcut to good marketing no matter what digital agencies tell you. Today, there is still no substitute for a refined brand, a resonating value proposition, a message that matters.
Yes, content is still king
If you are a small business and trying to find a way to create a more effective digital marketing campaign, you can’t start by calling a digital agency and saying, “I’m ready to do SEO.” You can’t wake up one morning and decide you want to appear at the top of Google. You cannot snap your fingers and hear the phone ring.
You see, the biggest problem in the marketing world today is that most small businesses don’t have a story to tell. They don’t understand that before they can start making themselves known, they better learn themselves first.
– You have to learn why you are a great company;
– You must learn what sets you apart from your competition;
– You must learn what value you have for a client;
– You must know the customer you want to target;
– You have to learn what the targeted customers want;
– You must learn to tell your story through words, pictures and videos.
The big mistake in marketing today is that small businesses don’t want to take the time to learn these things. Instead, they want to call up a digital marketing agency, get sold a bullshit, then scratch their heads and blame the agency when they’ve skipped all the important steps.
And the problem with most agencies is that they’re not designed to help you develop and create your specific content. Instead, they ask you to tell them about your business, they ask for your photos, they ask for your videos, and then they tell you they’re going to put you at the top of the search.
Where do you start?
If you want to successfully market your small business today, now is the time to get rid of the notion that digital marketing is easy. It’s not. This is perhaps the hardest part of your business in this new era of advertising.
The starting point for creating a successful marketing campaign is not with an agency that wants to sell you a package. Instead, you need to spend some time on that “learning” list that I mentioned above. When you can write all of these things down, when you have them in place, and when you know exactly why you are valuable to customers, this is when you are ready to start building your marketing campaign.
And that’s the next big problem. Most small businesses are so busy running their business that it is unthinkable to stop for a week to manage this massive project.
What we’ve learned from working with thousands of clients is that many of them struggle to make a profit, let alone break even. They don’t run their businesses efficiently; they have not developed this niche in their specific category. The result is that a list of questions to start creating content for your business is almost impossible to create. It’s a vicious cycle that ultimately dooms most small business owners.
It doesn’t have to be that way. There are companies like ours (and many good ones) that specialize in the whole business. Find a partner who can help you understand all aspects of your business. Find a partner who can see your successes and who can help you build a brand around it. Find a partner who will take your brand and create a message that matters to potential customers.
Doing it another way usually means you fail.
Small business marketing always starts with content