Fairfax / Newcastle Herald column November, 2015
IF you’re running a small or mid-sized business you’ve probably wondered many times about how to promote your business online without spending or wasting too much money.
Is online display advertising effective? Should you do SEO or would SEM suit you better? Is re-marketing a good idea or should you consider doing more on social media? What about email marketing? No matter what choice you make, you are likely to have that nagging feeling that your marketing mix is not right.
In order to get your marketing mix right it is crucial to answer a few important questions first:
What is your business focus and your target geography?
Is your business selling to other businesses (B2B) or do you sell to consumers (B2C)? Does your business serve its customers over a large area or does it serve a local community? These answers will focus your attention to your target segment and area.
Do you sell a product or a service?
Does your business sell a service to others like lawn mowing or consultancy or does it sell an actual product the customer can touch and feel? Selling a service online is very different to selling a product and so it is important to remove media channels that don’t lend themselves effectively to selling what you offer.
Who is your real customer?
Ask yourself who your main users are? Is it men, women or children? Define the demography of your target audience. A good way to do that is to actually describe your customer.
This helps you focus strongly on who you want to target to and where they are.
Is your business something that the consumer searches for actively? If so, how do they search?
Far too many businesses decide to spend money on various directories and paid search campaigns without asking themselves whether their audience within their geographical area is actually looking for such a product or service.
How frequently is your product or service purchased?
Defining how frequently your product or service is purchased by the same consumer will determine how you need to reach your target audience.
If you’re running a flower delivery service, for example, you may want to keep yourself top of mind with your audience so they remember you. However, if you’re running a consulting practice, you may want to set up regular email correspondence with your target audience on a set frequency.
Does your product or service purchase require personal selling?
Often businesses make the mistake of assuming that because they know their own product or service well enough, everyone else will too. But sometimes consumers really need to see the product or service at work before they understand the benefits and can commit to buying.
If your business is like this you will need to factor in lead generation rather than direct sales as your primary goal for your marketing initiatives.
Are your customers digitally inclined?
If you believe your customers may not be digital savvy it might not be a good idea to invest heavily in online marketing to reach them, especially if your business is not national in nature.
This question could be more directed to businesses targeting parts of the world where internet penetration is still low or demographics, such as the elderly, who don’t spend as much time online.
Answering these important questions will go a long way to helping you determine what your digital marketing strategies should be.