Marketing a business has become easier over the last few decades as the range of avenues via which you can promote has increased. If you talked at the beginning of this century about the importance of marketing in a business, people’s minds turned to local papers, TV and radio, and billboard campaigns. They might have vaguely considered an online angle to things, but the truth is that at that time, few of us would have been able to explain what shape that would take.
For the last decade and a bit, marketing budgets have been focused with much more intent on a digital approach. This has brought innovative and wide-ranging advertising strategies within the financial reach of a greater number of businesses. Now, you don’t need to have a budget large enough to buy up space in legacy sectors like papers and broadcast media. However, while things have become simpler, they haven’t become simple. SEO has become a huge part of how businesses market themselves, but SEO is a changing landscape – so you need to have a changing strategy.
At bottom, what this means for a business is that the strategy you had in 2011 can’t be as effective now, in 2021. Keeping your marketing approach current is essential, and one thing that you need to be aware of is that the habits which worked even a couple of years ago may be much less effective today. So you need to look at the habits that have to be broken, and consider better ones to adopt, if your strategy is to remain effective. Below, we look at some of the habits you need to break in order to have a proactive, working marketing campaign.
It’s Time to Stop Thinking About Marketing As A “Final Piece”
Running a business is about keeping a bunch of plates spinning, although the good news about this metaphor is that it’s easier than actually spinning plates. The skill here is in considering how what you do in one part of your business will affect what you do in other areas. For example, if you increase the capacity for orders in a business, you need to ensure that you can handle it on the delivery side of things. If you up the amount of traffic that is coming to your website, you need to be sure that you can deal with it on an IT front.
This has implications for marketing as well. You can’t just reorganize your business to achieve something in another area and then think about how you will market it. When you are planning anything – broadening your range of products, or selling overseas when you have previously had a complete focus on domestic markets – you need to be thinking about how you will change your marketing to accommodate that. If you treat marketing as an afterthought, then it will never function as smoothly as it needs to.
If you outsource any aspect of your marketing, that means you need to be speaking to the company you outsource it to while you are planning and implementing change in other areas. If you think of the different parts of your business as independent sections, nothing will ever join up as it should. Think of them as cogs in a machine; if one fails, the whole can’t work as you intended. Keep all the plates spinning at once, rather than one at a time, and the business will benefit.
SEO Is a Piece of Marketing, But it’s not the Whole Story
The story of SEO has been an interesting one; there is no doubt it has a profound impact on the effectiveness of a marketing campaign. If done well, its benefits can be like magic – taking a website that isn’t gaining much attention and suddenly bringing it into the top echelons of the search engines, folding in new traffic and using it effectively. But SEO is not magic. It’s science. It is a formula, not a spell, so it needs to have something to work with if it is to work at all.
What this means is that you can perform (or pay someone else to perform) all of the SEO tricks that are designed to make your website pop, but all the tricks in the world won’t help a website that isn’t engaging. The magic SEO wand can’t turn chicken feed into chicken salad. When they get to your website, the content needs to be engaging. To use another metaphor, great SEO can be like promising your customers a trip to the Grand Canyon. If they turn up and all they see is a ditch, they’re not going to hang around for very long. If you’re going to make promises with your marketing, you need to make good on those promises with your product.
It could well be said that user engagement is the new SEO in a way. Both are vital to a website that hopes to perform up to standard. The content you include on your website needs to be keyword-rich if it is to draw the attention of search engines. To draw the attention of site users, though, it needs to be interesting. That can be a hard balance to strike, but it is worth putting the time in, because the combination of SEO and useful, interesting content is worth much more than the sum of those parts.
Don’t Make Your Marketing About You
Personalizing marketing has its advantages: It allows customers to see a business as something more than just a corporate logo, and it differentiates your business from all the others in the same niche. With that said, there is a potential to go too far with the personal approach; or, to be more specific, the “what your business does/can do” approach. Increasingly, customers want to know that a business is talking to them on their level. If you can meet them on that level, you can secure long-term custom that’s highly valuable.
Getting the balance right here is a game of small changes. If you’re thinking of your marketing message as telling people what your business can do, take it just that bit further and wonder what your business can do for your customers. In other words, it’s not that your 24-hour delivery is the best in the business, it’s that you can ensure they’ll get a gift in time for their mother’s birthday. It’s not so much that your mechanics can change a transmission quicker than any other service garage, it’s that you can ensure they’ll be able to pick their kids up from school.
This “not us, you” approach to marketing can extend into how your business comports itself on social media. Too often, corporate social media accounts are simply transmitting an outward signal and expecting people to come to them. Ask yourself, if you are a user of social media, whether you have ever followed a business just to read their tweets. The answer is almost certainly not. If, instead of transmitting one-way, you use your channels to ask questions of your customers and then answer those questions, you’ll see benefits. If you run regular giveaways, you may even pick up a following that can become a customer base.
Good Marketing Is Consistent, Not Sporadic
If you know about SEO, you’ll know that Google periodically changes its algorithm for search engine crawling, and that SEO plans have to change to harness that. Indeed, that’s one of the major reasons why marketing has to be so different in 2021 than it did ten years ago. However, if you are only changing your plans when you’re forced to, then you’re not going to see a maximal impact any more often than just after you’ve made the change – and possibly not even then, given the importance of momentum in business.
Good marketing will react to trends and situations. Taking an example, when the pandemic hit early in 2021, some marketers were slow to react and their marketing ran the risk of looking dated and even insensitive. Marketing is how you speak to your customers, and if what you are saying in the midst of a pandemic is “keep buying our stuff”, you’re liable to look tone-deaf. If your marketing is consistent rather than sporadic, you can have a much more human voice when it’s really needed; customers will feel like they’re being spoken to rather than at.
Marketing needs to be on your mind in everything your business does. That doesn’t mean it needs to dictate everything, any more than any other part of the business should. But if you factor it in when making a decision, it will make it much easier to communicate that decision when the time comes.
Being conscious of marketing and its importance is a vital part of running an effective, successful business. That means recognizing that it’s a dynamic industry and being ready to modify the way you do things if it’s necessary. This may mean committing more time to it than you used to, but that time investment is going to be paid back in success.