29 February 2020

Marketing Your Small Business in a Pandemic

How Important is Digital Marketing?

The term 'free marketing' gets thrown around like candy, but how do you differentiate 'free marketing' that is only part of a scam sales funnel and real, useful marketing tips? As a marketing & consulting agency, Forge Relations has faced many trials in the development of their own brand recognition. Now a well-established company, Ben and Will would like to give back to the business community and share some of their own techniques they've seen success with marketing their business.

As suggested by the United States Small Business Administration, about 7-12% of your company's gross revenues should be allocated to marketing, and of that amount 45% of that total budget should go to digital marketing. This may range from business to business, depending on overall costs and industry, but I think we can all agree that marketing is crucial to how the public perceive the value of your products or services.

"As computing power rapidly spreads in all manner of devices around the world, it has fostered the creation of the Digital Economy. As a digital marketing strategy, social media optimization is used to increase awareness of new products and services, connect with your customers, and to alleviate potential damaging news (Kenton, 2020)." Brands who embrace digital & content marketing understand that social media platforms have opened new doors to reaching a large scale of potential consumers while also allowing targeted marketing strategy like never before. Social media has made content marketing one of the most critical pieces to any creative strategy. When implemented correctly and by utilizing audience data, content can customize based on demographics and geographic profiles, often known as retargeting.

The biggest asset your company has is yourself!

As a small business you are the face of your brand. Utilize that, No one knows your brand like you, therefore, creating content should never lack in order to maintain your online presence. Having complete control of your content distribution makes it easier for you to establish the narrative on what your company can offer to its consumers. Also, don't over think your content, Quantity over Quality.

It is essential to monitor brand communication and to quickly adapt to changing circumstances. Our current pandemic relating to the COVID-19 crisis is proof that anything can happen when you least expect it, so the importance of being able to adapt quickly through your marketing and PR techniques cannot be stressed enough.

Creating content, being active online, and interacting with your followers will build your brand and keep you top of mind with consumers. Because you are involved in all variables of your company every day, you should always be able to find content opportunities. Try personalizing your brand, and appeal to the emotions you are trying to invoke in your audience. Giving them a little taste of what it is like to use your products or the efficiency of your services can be a whole campaign right there in itself. Be genuine, those who appear more authentic find that their audience will be more engaged because it's relatable. If it's forced, your audience will pick up on it and it will lead to a distrust in your brand.

Fancy equipment is not necessary to create content either, many find that their most successful ads can be created right on their phone. As you build on the foundation of your brand, understanding that perception is everything will allow you to manipulate your message among many different audiences that you are targeting. Staying on top of the curve

You will fail at some point throughout the establishment of your business, but trial and error are inevitable, so do not let that discourage you as a business owner from persevering on. Consistency in content is key, creating one epic piece of content that takes you 1 week to produce is not nearly as valuable as creating content that goes up every single day.

Time management, in concept, is easy, in reality not so much. Review how you spend your time and decide what will provide your brand the most value. Its often tough to set aside the time to create content or look at marketing as a long term investment but you must find the time to maintain a presence with your audience. With so many options in the marketplace, If you're not consistent or top of mind you, for all intensive purposes you don't exist in the mind of your customer base. Keep in mind, word of mouth has remained one of the most effective ways of spreading information, Social media is simply an extension of this. Capitalize on your industry's trends and constantly evolve your strategies to reach your audience.

Maintaining a 1000 foot view and long-term goal progression is critical to not getting sucked into the details. Revisiting your content strategies, experimenting with new social networks, or revamping the existing marketing components, are all different ways you can better your chances against your rivals. Finding new ways to reinvent your brand will keep you relevant and interesting to consumers. Analyzing your competitors' digital marketing strategies and successes can help you to optimize your campaigns. Exploring an overview of your competition's digital strategy, traffic, the locations they reach the most, and any seasonal trends, will help your brand to improve both short-term and long-term wins. If your business does not evolve with the times it will go under. Do not scoff at new up and coming social media platforms. Sure, some may seem more popular among a younger demographic that you may not be too familiar with or sell your product to but historically every social media platform has 'aged up' meaning they start young but as their popularity grows so does the median age of the user. Capitalize on this by getting in early and building your base audience. Take every opportunity where you can build more reach, because you never know whether your next post will be the next viral sensation. Capitalize on the opportunities these platforms provide as you can and take advantage of as many trends as you can that promotes the best value for your brand. Every few years or so, a new social media platform emerges with vigorous stride, and it is up to you to catch the social networking wave to catapult your brand to the next level.