Let’s be candid for a moment: we are horrible at promoting ourselves. Whether it is because we are too humble or we are too self-deprecating, many of us do a disservice to our own careers and businesses by refusing to properly market our small business, our entrepreneurial success after going solo in the concrete jungle, and our impressive human capital.
Business marketing is not easy, especially for newcomers who have limited resources and an uphill battle to overcome. Just trying to get noticed in any industry can feel like an impossible battle that will end in failure. But you should never concede defeat immediately. Instead, come up with a strategy, employ these measures and be proud of your product or service. If it fails, then you create a new marketing campaign, initiate these plans and realise your corporate dreams.
So, how do you promote your business? There are many proven concepts to help bring eyeballs to your brand. Here is a comprehensive guide to getting you started.
1. Employ an SEO Strategy
Search engine optimisation has greatly evolved from the days of keyword stuffing, link purchasing and 200-word blog posts aimed at just filling space. Today, SEO is about detailed information, authentic links, mobility, authority and blogging. So, how exactly do you take advantage of SEO for a boost?
Here are some aspects to consider:
- blog for humans, not for web crawlers (or robots)
- persuade other trustworthy websites to link to you
- remove anything that is slowing down your website
- ensure your website is mobile-friendly
- switch to HTTPS
- aim to rank in Google’s featured snippets
- optimise your website for voice search.
Ultimately, it is important to think of the user experience first, and everything else will fall into place.
2. Tweet Regularly
While Twitter ranks behind Facebook, Instagram and a couple of other social networks, tweeting has still become one of the integral steps behind social media.
Twitter is a millisecond world where everything happens instantaneously. It also has the potential to unlock brand awareness through regular participation. And that is the key: regular participation.
By tweeting regularly, you are building an audience, showcasing your knowledge and engaging with your consumer base. It is a waste to have an account if you are not active.
3. Build a Presence on Facebook
Facebook the No 1 social media outlet in the world. There is nothing that can top it. Hence why businesses spend much of their social media budget on the website. But you cannot expect to experience instant results if by simply opening an account. Like Twitter, it requires routine management so that you can build a presence on the social network.
Here’s what you can do:
- post corporate updates
- offer exclusive deals to followers
- publish unique content
- share industry-related content
- generate visual content, like memes and videos.
It is the little things like these that can make a huge difference.
4. Leverage Other Social Networks
Once you’ve established a routine for your Facebook and Twitter accounts, it’s time to leverage the power of other social networks. Again, it’s important to point out that you should only do this once you have successfully constructed a following on these two websites.
So, where should you look? Well, it really depends on your business.
- Do you sell fashion? Then Pinterest would suffice.
- Are you in real estate? Instagram would be a big help.
- In the entertainment business? Leverage Snapchat.
- Selling food? Foursquare is the place to be.
There are dozens of social media outlets to consider.
5. Initiate the Power of Blogging
If your company isn’t blogging, then it’s not trying. Many neophytes may be apprehensive about writing blog posts, thinking that they are just filler and will hardly be seen by anyone. This, however, is a misconception.
When you create a website, be sure to have a stellar blog section, which should then be maintained with well-written and engaging posts.
Not everyone is a professional scribe, so you can always hire a freelance writer. That said, if you wish to compose a few articles, then here are some recommendations:
- showcase your knowledge in every article as if you are writing for a billion-dollar investor
- write blog posts that answer common and interesting questions from your customers
- remain consistent in writing; don’t write on occasion – set up a schedule
- be true to your voice and don’t try to be something you’re not
- craft catchy headlines, employ SEO white hat tricks and write about 750 words.
At the end of every post, be sure to have a tremendous call to action.
6. Facilitate User-Generated Content
User-generated content, or UGC, is one of the biggest trends in digital marketing right now. This is when brands will use content – images, reviews, tweets, videos – from customers and showcase it in their advertising efforts.
For instance, Burberry will highlight everyday people wearing its brand. Belkin and Lego launched a social media platform to enable users to share photos of customisable cases made from Lego.
UGC is powerful because it lets others know that your products or services are popular. Plus, it’s always a better idea to be on the cutting edge of the latest marketing trends.
7. Produce Short Animated Explainer Videos
Do you want to add another strategy that combines your authority status and your desire to market your brand? Well, if you have the knowhow, the technology or the manpower, then you should consider producing short animated explainer videos. Essentially, these are short animation clips that explain how something works or why it is important.
So, if you sell air-conditioned shoes or heated winter boots, then you can make a three-minute video that highlights the benefits, the mechanisms and the tips to make your items last longer.
8. Launch a Weekly Webinar
Webinars are a hidden secret for any entrepreneur and startup that wants to achieve a few things:
- boost authority
- build an email campaign
- engage with your audience
- market the brand
- sell a product or offer something for free
It should also be mentioned that you can generate a ton of content with your webinar, composing blogs about specific subjects that were discussed during the 30-minute session, tweeting specific quotes, and posting reviews from audience members.
Webinars lead to a treasure trove of content ideas.
9. Reach Out to Relevant Blogs
Professional blogs are also searching for content. Not only that, bloggers want the meat and potatoes of an industry that rivalling websites do not have. That said, it would be a wise move to reach out to blogs that report on your niche.
If you sell financial services, for example, then you could offer an analysis of the latest happenings in the stock market. Or if you design mobile apps, then you could provide your prognostication on the future of the mobile app sector in the coming years.
10. Comment on Other Blogs
There are two ways to interact with other blogs: offer insightful comments, and spam. You want to aim for the former, not the latter.
By publishing engaging, insightful and praising comments, you garner attention from both the publisher and other readers. On the other hand, if your only purpose is to say, ‘Click here for the best products in the world’, then you will only elicit an eye-roll and a ‘Report spam’ reaction, which will only affect your corporate reputation.
11. Compose Guest Posts
Guest posts are different than blogging because you’re required to offer a more in-depth article than you normally would with your internal content. Also, guest posts are not meant to be promotional, although you will likely be allowed to insert a plug at the end of your post.
Believe it or not, the hardest part will be trying to get websites to host a guest post of yours. They are likely inundated with similar requests.
12. Go Mobile
As alluded to at the beginning, going mobile is one of the best digital marketing strategies you can employ. Why? Mobile traffic has actually exceeded desktop traffic, meaning consumers are likely engaging with your brand on their smartphones and tablets. With this in mind, you need to plan for the following:
- mobile commerce (or m-commerce)
- a mobile-friendly website or designing an app
- mobile SEO
- geolocation mobile marketing (presenting ads, relevant content and discounts tailored to your location).
13. Design Industry-Related Infographics
Who doesn’t enjoy a good infographic? Although their popularity has somewhat diminished in the last couple of years, likely because of their overuse and prevalence, infographics are still one of the great steps of crafting visual content and generating buzz about your brand.
Indeed, there are three issues to think about: marketing, designing and data.
As an authority in your industry, the data part may not be too difficult to gather. Since you are entrenched in an online and offline marketing campaign, then it might not be too hard to add this to your to-do list. Designing, on the other hand, could be the hard part. So, like blogging, you could always hire a freelance graphic designer.
14. Create Email Marketing Campaigns
The rumours of email marketing’s death have been greatly exaggerated. In fact, email marketing is one of the more proven digital advertising methods around. The measure has greatly evolved over the years, from the days of coloured font, all-caps text and outdated GIFs.
Just take a gander at how prevalent and successful this strategy is:
- 82% of B2B and B2C companies use email marketing technology
- 23% of readers who read their promotional emails on their phones to do so again later
- Your emails are six times more likely to get a click-through than a tweet
- 81% of online shoppers are more likely to make a purchase as a result of personalised emails
- email subscribers are three times more likely to share your content on social media.
And that is just a tip of the iceberg.
15. Take Advantage of Livestreaming
While it’s better to refrain from too much livestreaming, it is still one of the best ways to inject a little bit of excitement about your brand.
So, what could you possibly livestream on Facebook or YouTube?
- an unveiling of a much-anticipated product
- an inside look into the daily operations of your business
- your exhibit at a trade show (see below)
- a speech that the boss might deliver at an industry conference.
There are all sorts of ways to experiment with live streaming.
16. Invest in Printed Materials
‘Look at that subtle off-white colouring. The tasteful thickness of it. Oh my God, it even has a watermark…’
That is the reaction, which is from the iconic business card scene from American Psycho, that someone who has received one of your printed materials might have. If that is what will occur, then that is great for your brand – and the company that designed these materials!
Here are some printed materials to think about incorporating into your offline advertising initiative:
- business cards
17. Experiment with a Direct Mail Strategy
Direct mail? Is this the 1980s? Are you still playing cassette tapes on your stereo?
Forsooth, direct mail might seem like an outdated and lacklustre technique in your overall marketing strategy, but it is still a time-tested concept that leads to some form of success. Here are some statistics:
- 42% of households opened these mail pieces
- more than 2.5 billion coupons were redeemed as a result of direct mail
- 70% of Americans say direct mail is more personal than email
- 56% find print materials to be the most trustworthy type of marketing
- the average ROI for direct mail is 20%.
Like email marketing, rumours of direct mail’s death have been greatly exaggerated.
18. Sponsor a Segment on Local Radio
Local radio stations have direct access to many of your local customers. Chances are one-quarter of your clientele listens to the classical station, a fifth turn their stereo to the jazz outlet, and a third will put on the pop channel. Your shoppers have an eclectic taste in music. Because of this, you should consider advertising on local radio.
We have two pieces of advice. The first is to avoid purchasing a commercial spot; they are oftentimes annoying, and they discourage consumers to patronise your business. The second is to sponsor a segment, which achieves a few things:
- it promotes your brand
- it educates audiences
- it showcases your personality
- it facilitates content creation.
Radio is still a powerful medium, but it is typically the commercials that make you want to gauge your eyeballs out, dunk your head in a volcanic eruption and listen to Gilbert Gottfried all day.
19. Exhibit at Trade Shows
It might seem like more than a hassle than it is worth – you need to set up an exhibit, speak with people and pay a fee. But many entrepreneurs, especially younger ones, do not realise the untapped potential of having a display at a trade show.
Whether you’re a startup or a multimillion-dollar multinational corporation, attending trade shows is a great way to market your brand and sell to customers.
Ultimately, attending a trade show will remove a middleman and help you skip the extra steps necessary to reach customers. Why? Because you have already connected with customers by erecting a display at a trade show.
20. Participate in Community Events
Is your street hosting a sidewalk sale? Is there a major holiday block party? Are 5% of all proceeds going to a community homeless shelter? Whatever the theme may be, it’s always a great idea for your business to participate in any and all community events.
21. Offer to be a Speaker
Every business owner has a fountain of knowledge just waiting to be tapped. Everything from your experience in the corporate world to how you got started in the business, you have a lot to offer to anyone who is willing to listen. This is why you should always offer your oration services to groups that need a speaker to address an audience.
22. Join a Professional Association
This goes back to a previous point: too many professionals do not share their success stories. But let’s be honest: your company’s accomplishments should not be kept a secret, especially when you’re involved in a professional association. The good news can inspire down-on-their-luck businesspeople, as well as stakeholders, association members and future participants, with a diverse array of entrepreneurship tips to put themselves back on their feet.
As long as you do not spend your allotted time bragging and telling everyone how you’re the greatest man or woman that ever lived, it’s fine to talk about your organisation’s achievements.
23. Host a Contest
When you want to generate some local buzz, bring eyeballs to your website or engage with social media users, one of the best steps to take is to host a contest. A $500 cash prize, a $1,000 shopping spree or a chance at one in three automobiles – offering prizes for those who toss their names in a hat, write an essay or share a photo of your product on Twitter with a hashtag are great methods of bringing excitement to your brand.
24. Hand Out Branded Items
Everyone loves free stuff, even if the purpose of that free stuff is to complete an advertising goal. T-shirts, ball caps, hoodies, scarves, handkerchiefs… the list goes on – if they are available for free, then people will take it.
Whether they buy something from your store or not is irrelevant because they are acting as walking billboards, advertising your brand wherever they go. So, a $20 investment is doing about as much as $5,000-a-month billboard in the middle of the city.
25. Advertise on Your Mode of Transportation
If you own a vehicle – business or personal – then you should advertise your company on that car. Since you’re driving around anyway, why not add a corporate touch to your vehicle? It will achieve the exact same thing as a corporation placing its newest seasonal clothing on the side of a bus or their latest perfume on a bus shelter poster. It is cheaper and perhaps even more effective.
With all these white-hat tricks, tips and techniques at your disposal, one way to measure their effectiveness is to adopt the 100 Rule – adding 100 new contacts every day, week or month to your Rolodex. It’s okay if you fall short at your projected date, as long as you are not noticing a consistent downward trend.
Now that you have the tools to market your business, what’s stopping you from unleashing an effective campaign?
From online to offline, you have a myriad of ways to create brand awareness, boost sales and get your product seen in a crowded market. There are just three important things you need to remember: never give up, recalibrate your initiative when necessary, and be excited about your product.
If you’re not that dedicated to your enterprise, then why would consumers? Noodle that one until you start devising a promotional blitzkrieg that will inevitably lead to higher sales for your newly founded business.
Do you have anything you’d like to add? Join the conversation in the comments section below.