An Unbiased Answer to Help You Decide if Your Small Business Should Be Marketing
Article updated: June 2020
While your business could grow on word of mouth alone, investing in a diverse marketing plan will expedite the growth you’re looking for. (Also, word of mouth is still marketing!) Every company needs a marketing plan; the variation lies in how much focus is placed on each feature. Some companies will have a thorough pay-per-click marketing strategy, while others will focus on email marketing and paid social media advertising.
During an unforeseen period like the Coronavirus, marketing is increasingly important. For example, more users are on social media while spending time at home, giving you a chance to communicate changes in service as well as sell to them.
Regardless of where you choose to invest, your business will need marketing in order to grow and thrive, both during current events and beyond.
What to Expect Without a Marketing Plan
Without a marketing plan, your company’s growth will slow, and could even stall. There will be very few new customers, and existing customers may not know about new products or upcoming sales, reducing their chances of becoming a repeat customer.
Because of this, we recommend that every business has at the minimum a basic marketing plan to help reach new customers and stay connected with existing ones.
Even with the unpredictability of a global and local disruption like the Coronavirus, you can use your marketing strategy as the foundation for all content you need to grow your company.
Here’s how you can get started.
Know Your Goals
Every marketing plan needs to begin with a goal. From that goal, you can backtrack to discover where to begin. These are the most common goals for businesses:
- Increase top line revenue.
- Launch a new product.
- Increase lead generation.
You’ll notice that growing social media followers isn’t included. While this is a result of a strong marketing plan, followers don’t necessarily translate into sales, which means we need to focus on revenue-driving areas like the three listed above.
Once you know your goal, it’s time to determine the best type of marketing to help you reach it.
Choosing Your Marketing Plan’s Elements
There are quite a few different ways to approach digital marketing.
These are the most common:
- Email marketing
- Social media marketing
- Paid social media marketing
- Pay-per-click advertising (e.g.,Google, Bing)
An email address is one of the most valuable pieces of information you can own from a current or potential customer. In fact, companies generate an average of $38 for every $1 spent on email marketing!
Focus on email newsletters to promote specials and company news, and offer a discount to new customers who sign up for the newsletter on your website. This entices them to provide their email, which means you can continue to reach them, even if they don’t follow you on social media.
Email newsletters are particularly important today as local regulations can change quickly as the nation recovers from the Coronavirus. You have a way to reach your current and prospective customers directly so keep them up to date.
Social Media Marketing
If they do follow you on social media, though, your chosen platforms give you an opportunity to connect with them in additional ways. Facebook and Instagram are the go-to’s for many companies based on range of users active on the platform, but Pinterest, Twitter, and even Quora or Reddit could help build brand awareness.
Be sure to focus on the information that your followers would find useful that is also relevant to your company. This ensures you’re providing value and that they’ll continue to engage with you on the platforms.
Even though email addresses give you access to inboxes, social media can also be an extremely beneficial way to reach your audience regarding and updates regarding Coronavirus-related disruptions. As more people stay home, the more likely they are to be scrolling and see your posts.
Paid Social Media Marketing
Posting on Facebook or Instagram is called posting organically. Paid social media marketing, though, is the opposite. You pay to reach users that meet certain targeting guidelines, and it’s an affordable method of advertising. In fact, 69% of US adults use Facebook, making it one of the easiest ways to reach new eyes.
All social media platforms offer advertising, so you can focus on the platforms where your audience lives online, whether that’s Facebook, Pinterest, or even LinkedIn.
We have seen some decreases in costs for Facebook and Instagram during the Coronavirus, which means you can reach more people for the same budget. While this may not stay after the world begins to recover, it can help you launch or grow your advertising right now.
Also known as PPC advertising, this type of advertising is determined by web searches. And since 86% of Americans regularly use search engines to find local businesses, it pays to be seen. By targeting keywords related to your company and industry, you can advertise on Google and Bing and pay per each click that users make on your ads.
PPC is still important during the Coronavirus as prospective customers look for your products or services. We recommitted working with an agency that can take the goals you’ve determined above and turn them into a PPC strategy that will deliver results, especially right now.
The companies you remember are those who take time to creatively educate and inspire. Blogging is one way to do this. It helps drive traffic to your website, establishes your thought leadership in your niche, and engages your audience.
Blogging regularly will also provide content to share on social media while helping improve your SEO ranking so you appear in more searches online. Focus on in-depth pieces that answer common questions, as these are 9x more likely to increase lead generation.
Even with Coronavirus-related disruptions to website rankings, it is possible to get yours back. Blogging can help you do that, as well as focusing on other SEO needs like FAQs, voice search, and more.
So let’s say you implement all of these recommendations. How long until you see results?
How Long It Takes to See Results from Marketing
Most marketing, especially blogging and social media, will take time to grow. Expect to work on these platforms for at least three to six months before seeing strong sales-based results. With email marketing and paid advertising, results can typically be seen within two to three months in normal times.
While both business and consumers are recovering from the Coronavirus, you may see a longer period from implementing your new marketing plan and sustained growth.
Like with most things in business, though, anything worth it takes time. Remember that you’re building the foundation now for a strong, thriving company in the future. Continue to monitor your company’s marketing over time, and see what is and isn’t working during this time.
As your target customer begins to recover, whether you have a storefront or an online business, you may begin to see a change in how they perceive your marketing. Be sure to listen to their feedback and how your area is opening up. You don’t have to take all feedback to heart, but this will help you determine how your customers are doing during this time.
Regardless of what’s to come, though, you need to invest in a long-term marketing strategy if you want to grow. There will always be situations that force some quick changes, but a framework will keep you moving forward despite global and local situations.
Focusing on a thorough marketing strategy that includes email marketing, social media, advertising, and blogging will help ensure your business is found online so you can stay growth-focused in this unique time.