Inbound Marketing for Small Businesses
If I were to ask you what your plan for your business is in 2016, I bet you could talk for hours about the new products you’re launching. Maybe you sell homemade skin care products and you are thrilled to release 5 fresh new scents. Or maybe you sell jewelry and are excited for a new line featuring local artists. While you may have a great product, what’s usually missing from the “plan” is how you’re actually going to be marketing it.
Running a small business can feel like swimming in a whirlpool. At times, the struggle just to keep your head above water is more than you can handle, let alone try to swim to the boat. You know that if can just somehow get there you’ll be fine, but the odds aren’t exactly in your favor.
At Catch22, we see this all the time. Business owners often put all of their effort into making a great product, and then are too overwhelmed to even think about the marketing side. We understand what you’re going through and want to help; however, what sets most businesses back, or makes them fail altogether, is actually the owner themselves.
Know Your Buyers
Inbound marketing is all about content. It no longer works to just hand out flyers and post on social media. If you can’t afford to hire an agency to help you, then you need to have a strategy and leverage your resources to make them work together. However, before you can start, you have to understand who you are going to be marketing to.
Figure this out by first analyzing your customer demographic. If your sales are not doing as good as you hoped despite your current packaging and marketing efforts, then ask yourself, are you marketing your product to the 20 – 30 age range when in reality it’s the 40 – 50 age group that is buying your merchandise? It happens. No company can predict exactly how their product will sell once it’s in the market, and thats OK, just as long as you’re growing your brand with your customer base and not away from it. Once you understand your trends, you can build out buyer personas based on your current customers and ones you would like to target in the future. If you’re new to building personas, we have written a blog post with a simple step-by-step guide to help you.
Creating your buyer personas might seem like a difficult task, but knowing them will help define your business plan in ways you didn’t know were possible before.
Define Your Target
Now that you have 3 or more personas, it’s time to decide who you want to target first. Successful inbound marketing campaigns understand the buyer’s journey, and how to target them at every stage.
If you’re thinking about buying a new television, what’s the first thing you do? Your answer was probably to do a Google search for the best televisions. If you did, what did you find? Beneath the paid advertisements, search engines are flooded with nothing but articles debating customer opinions and performance reviews. This is because businesses get that people need to research. This is called the Awareness Stage of the buyer’s journey. There is too much content and options out there now for anyone to want to buy the first thing they see. Instead, the buyer is aware of their problem, that they need a new television, and searches for the best options. If they come across good enough content that convinces them that Vizio is the best brand, then they might not even bother to look at other companies.
This same strategy needs to apply to your business. Instead of pushing your product out into an advertisement space, write a blog post that discusses the health benefits of using skin care products made from organic resources, or describe the process of making intricate jewelry. By doing so, you can reach people before they are even ready to buy. According to Nielsen, over 65% of respondents ages 15 – 49 said that they trust editorial content and opinion pieces found online, compared to nearly 50% saying they don’t trust ads served in search engine results.
Once you understand how the buyer’s journey works, you’re ready to start creating content. However, you can’t simply put out a blog post and expect to immediately have hundreds of sales. It’s a process that requires time and a patience. You need to make social media and blogging a daily part of your routine. Doing so will show your customers that you are reliable, which will help you not only gain their trust, but also help you become an authority in your industry. According to Hubspot, small businesses that blog 3 or more times a week gain 70% more leads than businesses who don’t.
“Small businesses that blog 3 or more times a week gain 70% more leads than business who don’t.”
Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean you need to be writing a blog every day (quality is still better than quantity). A huge part of gaining authority and getting noticed is actually about acknowledging other industry leaders. A good rule is for every 2 posts of your own content on social media, share 8 of someone else’s. So instead of following up your organic blog post with a tweet about your products, find a post from someone else to share, maybe about the process of making soap or the best scents to relieve stress.
Make A Plan
Before you get discouraged and decide it’s easier to drown, understand that doing everything I mention above is the hardest part. Once you build yourself a strong foundation, and understand why your efforts matter, the rest will come naturally. The best part: We are here to help you every step of the way.
Thanks for reading part 1 of our blog series Inbound Marketing for Small Businesses. Check back next Thursday for Blogging 101, to learn how to create content that will take your company’s blog to the next level.