(Photo | by Kaboompics .com from Pexels)
It’s clear that the pandemic has changed how companies of all sizes do business. How many of these changes are temporary and how many are permanent? The exact answer depends upon the type of business you’re in and who your customers are. But in general, we won’t be going back to the way things were.
For the past decade, digital marketing concepts and implementations have grown in importance every year. Digital marketing is now, and will continue to be, critical to the survival of your small business. Embrace it.
At SCORE Central Oregon, we work with hundreds of small businesses every year. More and more, we see the positive results when owners plan and grow their digital marketing efforts. So here are seven tips to implement and maintain your digital marketing strategy.
1. Review Your Mission Statement
You may not have looked at your mission and goals statements for a while. Are they still appropriate? Are you still executing on them? Take a fresh look at what your company stands for. Ask someone you trust for their objective input. This is a great time to revisit why your company exists and what it stands for.
2. Perform a SWOT Analysis on Your Company
Identifying your company’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats will help you tailor your marketing efforts to your customers and their needs.
- Strengths are things you do well compared to your competitors. Marketing to your strengths can help customers and potential customers see your key differentiators and understand where/how you can help them.
- Weaknesses provide you with an opportunity to improve your performance. You may be able to turn some of them into strengths if you focus on them. Or you can make sure your marketing channels and messages stay away from your weak areas.
- Opportunities are external positive factors which you’re not currently addressing. If some of them align with your Strengths, you can choose to pursue them.
- Threats are external negative factors which you may or may not be able to plan for. Spending some time examining the potential threats to your business may help you see things you didn’t know that you didn’t know.
3. Act Like the Digital Age is Here to Stay
Because it is here to stay. And your future depends upon it. On-line marketing, on-line selling, working from home, virtual connections, social media as a life line, smaller group sizes and increased emphasis on personal health are all here to stay. Maybe not to the degree we’ve experienced them for the past year, but they’re not going back to the way they were in 2019. Embrace these news ways of doing business and adapt your marketing strategy accordingly.
4. Be Available On-Line Every Hour of Every Day
No, you don’t need to sleep with your phone on and your laptop open so you can respond to inquiries in real time. But your digital presence should be open for business whenever your customers want to reach out to you and in the ways they want to interact with you. Constantly tweak your website so that it’s always SEO friendly. Measure and assess your website’s performance every week.
Your social media sites should all link back to your website. Emails and blogs should be 80 percent informational/inspirational and only 20 percent oriented toward selling. But everything needs to include a Call to Action. Keep your content fresh. Yes, it’s a lot of work and many business owners don’t enjoy doing it. If that’s the case for you, consider outsourcing to a service.
5. Enhance Your Customers’ Engagement Through Interaction
Digital marketing can often feel like a one-way street to both you and your customers. Look for ways to encourage interaction through live streaming, video conferencing and podcasts. Provide content in the channels your customers want to use, not necessarily the ones you’re most comfortable with. Use customer and employee testimonials to provide authenticity to your messages and trigger empathy in your customers.
6. Provide Marketing Campaigns Which Have a Purpose
In these crazy times, individuals want to support small, local businesses whenever they can. They also want to do business with companies which address specific issues. Make sure your marketing campaigns tell stories which can cause customers to feel pride in buying from you.
7. Ask for Guidance
There are many local resources that can help you on your journey. In addition to free SCORE mentoring, consider SBDC, EDCO, Opportunity Knocks, the Deschutes Public Library and the Chamber of Commerce. You don’t have to go it alone!
Ed Weiser has been a local SCORE mentor since 2014. He also volunteers for Deschutes County Search And Rescue and is an Interpretive Ranger for Deschutes National Forest. Contact Ed at linkedin.com/in/edweiser