Comparatively few business owners and marketers wouldn’t jump at the chance to lighten the load. Now more than ever, getting things done with whatever time and money you have available is a bigger challenge than ever before.
Marketing in particular presents a constant and increasingly intense challenge for small and medium sized businesses. Not only are you up against ferocious competition, but chances are you simply do not have enough time on your hands to devote yourself or your resources to an intensive campaign.
This is where one or two helpful marketing hacks can come in handy. It’s the classic case of working smarter rather than harder, ensuring that the time and money you do have is used as strategically as possible.
Are there any outright short-cuts to all-out marketing glory? Sadly not. Are there any realistic ways you can make life easier on yourself? Indeed there are, which in all instances are well within the reach of even the smallest businesses.
Here’s a brief rundown of seven marketing tips to make your life easier, along with one ‘nuclear’ option that’s well worth considering:
1. Embrace the Popularity of Video
Many small businesses shy away from video due to the assumption that it’s a difficult, complex and time-consuming tactic to nail. In reality, it’s actually the exact opposite. Shooting high-quality videos is as easy as reaching for the nearest mobile device and going for it. Never forget that your audience wants to see the real people behind your brand and hear the real voice of your business. Nothing fake, forced or over produced.
Last year, 84% of consumers said that videos alone convinced them to buy products, while 87% of marketers said they experienced an increase in traffic after creating and publishing videos.
2. Work with the Data You Have Available
Armed with little more than a rudimentary knowledge of Google Analytics, you have access to all the information you need to modify and adapt your marketing efforts accordingly. Anything you do based simply on a hunch or assumption could be wasting your time and money. When you work with the hard data you have available, you’re guided by facts and figures.
This in turn means that every minute and every penny you invest in your marketing strategy is invested sensibly and in a potentially profitable manner. Far better than simply ‘hacking’ at the whole thing in a random way, hoping for the best.
3. Join Forces with Similar Businesses
There’s nothing quite as effective or affordable as having others market your products and services on your behalf. Along with being a great way of reaching new audiences, it also speaks volumes for the quality and authority of whatever it is you offer. Precisely why joined forces with similar businesses can be pure gold – the classic ‘you scratch my back, I scratch yours’ approach.
You mention, feature and link to their products and pages across your online assets, and they do the same for you in return. If they’re relevant to your business but aren’t a direct competitor, there’s a good chance they’ll be more than happy to help you out.
4. Listen to Your Customers and Act Accordingly
As is the case with collecting and using analytical data, you can also get almost all information you need for a successful marketing strategy directly from your customers. Rather than waiting to hear their suggestions, feedback, requests and so on, it makes so much more sense to gather this kind of information proactively.
There are countless options available to make it happen – classic surveys, social media polls, Facebook groups, follow-up emails, incentivising customers to leave online reviews and so on. Again, providing you with the information you need to avoid time wasted on ineffective or misdirected marketing efforts.
5. Get Customers Involved in Your Advertising
Better yet, why not get into the habit of having your customers do some of the hard work on your behalf? An incentive or two along the way can certainly grease the wheels, but you might be surprised how willing consumers are these days to supply you with user generated content (UGC) as a form of social proof/influencer marketing.
It’s worth remembering that the positive words and recommendations of your customers mean more to your target audience than anything you can ever say. Ask them to create short video clips for you to publish, share images of themselves using your products – anything that sends the right message to others, with little to no effort required on your part.
6. Don’t Shy Away from Automation
Taking things too far with automation – e-mail, social media etc. – can result in a sterile and uninspiring campaign. But this doesn’t mean there isn’t at least limited scope for automation with many everyday marketing efforts. Most of the world’s biggest and most successful brands rely on automation to a certain extent, reducing their workloads by scheduling and automating certain types of posts.
The extent to which automation is right for you is up to you to decide, but shying away from it altogether can be counterproductive. It’s at least worth experimenting with, given how many automated marketing tools are either free to use or free to try out for the first few weeks at least.
7. Keep an Eye on Your Competitors
Last up, if looking for priceless insights as to how to get the job done properly, simply take a look at how some of your competitors are approaching their marketing strategies. It’s not a case of ripping off ideas wholesale, but instead of taking ‘inspiration’ from their actions and activities. Not to mention, thinking long and hard about what you can do to improve on whatever it is they’re doing.
Competitor research and analysis gives you the opportunity to compare and contrast your marketing and advertising tactics with those of your rivals. Which is, by a wide margin, one of the most important elements of any long-term marketing strategy.
The Nuclear Option – Have You Considered Outsourcing?
I mentioned back at the beginning one additional ‘nuclear’ option, and this is it. What do you do if there simply are not enough hours in the day or resources at your disposal to get the job done?
It’s easy – you outsource.
What’s important to remember at this stage is that outsourcing isn’t ‘binary’ in nature. That being, you don’t necessarily have to outsource all or none of your marketing responsibilities. You can involve outsiders to any extent you deem necessary – even if it’s simply to cover one or two daily tasks.
Research suggests that in the overwhelming majority of instances, working with a third-party marketing professional can actually save your business time and money. But when does the time come to genuinely consider outsourcing?
What are the signs you should be on the lookout for that things simply aren’t working with your current in-house strategy?
Sign 1 – You’re Experiencing Burnout
This basically refers to the relatively common scenario wherein business owners and marketers are stretched and overworked to the point where they lose focus, motivation and both the desire and the ability to get the job done properly. The simple fact of the matter being that if you (or your marketers) are experiencing burnout, you’re effectively pouring time and money down the drain.
Sign 2 – You’re Constantly Getting it Wrong
In this instance, getting it wrong means investing any amount of time and money whatsoever in a marketing strategy that delivers nothing close to an acceptable ROI. Every penny you invest in marketing should translate to measurable revenues and profits. If not, it’s not worth bothering with – and you’re again pouring good money down the drain.
Sign 3 – You’ve no Clear Strategy or Intent
For some, simply coming up with a viable long-term marketing strategy in the first place is the hardest step of all. The issue being that without a defined strategy in place, you’ve absolutely no chance of meeting your objectives or generating a good ROI. It’s the classic case of attempting to achieve goals you haven’t yet established or formalised. Which is, for obvious reasons, entirely impossible.
Sign 4 – You’ve No Skilled or Experienced Personnel
Handling certain aspects of your marketing strategy in-house with no skilled or experienced personnel is perfectly possible. However, it takes knowledge, expertise and plenty of experience to get to grips with the more complex and intricate aspects of digital marketing. From SEO to PPC to social media to web design, a little advanced knowledge in your corner could go a long way. And again, you’re free to outsource as few or as many marketing duties as you like – you don’t have to hand over your entire campaign.
Sign 5 – You’re Losing Customers
Last but not least, perhaps the single clearest sign you need help (and desperately) is losing customers. Irrespective of whether the decline in numbers is gradual or sudden, diminishing customer numbers indicate you’re doing something wrong. Or at least, that your competitors are doing something better than you. In which case, taking action as early as possible is essential, in order to avoid falling dangerously behind the curve and perhaps into obscurity.
If you have any questions on any of the above or would like to discuss any aspect of digital marketing in more detail, contact a member of the team at Tait Pollack today for an obligation-free consultation.