Digital Marketing • 17th May, 16
Sure, sometimes all the complaining we like to do about the less-than-cheap nature of doing business in the modern world is called for; after all, there is a helluva lot of competition out there, and the exchange rate really isn’t getting any better.
But sometimes, we’ve got to make more of an effort to remember that there’s a lot of things that have gotten cheaper – and as with more or less any advancement in modern business, it’s thanks to the internet.
If there’s anywhere that this is particularly obvious, it’s in digital marketing. Think about it, now: a simple Facebook page – as in, any page, even if it only gets a handful of likes – gets a new business the sort of international notice that a new business, forty or fifty years ago, would have killed for; and all for free. Sure, there’s a ton of competition, and we live in a day and age when customer loyalty is hella hard to pin down; but still, when it comes to getting noticed, even the most humble new business is dealt a pretty fair hand. Just got to know how to play it.
Still, it goes without saying: you’ve got to spend money. Affordable doesn’t mean free. Affordable, in this case, means plausible for an up-and-coming business, if they do it properly.
So, to help kick you newcomers to the turbulent world of getting yourself known online, here’s a few pointers as to how to spend your digital marketing budget that’ll ensure you get noticed – but not noticed in a “remember that company that spent all that money on YouTube promos and then went bankrupt before they could launch?” sort of way.
- A Nose for the Freebies
Like we mentioned, the internet’s made a helluva lot of things affordable. It’s also made quite a few things free. Sure, sure, there’s usually catches – “Pay To Win” doesn’t just affect the gamers – but still, they’re usually worth taking advantage of.
And if you’ve got the time, you don’t have to relegate yourself to the obvious ones – Facebook, Twitter et al. Make use of all the social media you have the time for – including the ones you didn’t think you’d need. Feel like your business is a non-visual one? Doesn’t matter; if you have time to run an Instagram account, get one. You’ll find something to put on there. Think Google+ is probably just Facebook without the trendiness? Doesn’t matter; if you’ve got time, run a Google+ account alongside your Facebook one. You can’t put a price on extra publicity.
And it’s hardly limited to basic social media, either. There’s a whole host of services out there that’ll help you ensure that you can optimise your online presence as thoroughly as possible. Keyword planners help you pin down the best keywords around which to build the search engine optimisation of your business’s online presence; analytical services like SEO Site Checkup and Sitetrail run checks on a site’s SEO issues and the general strength of their online marketing strategy; tools like Plagiarism Checker and KeywordDensity help a site retain credibility and a professional image by avoiding duplicate content and excessive keyword usage; and for the most part, they’re all free. Sure, maybe you’ll have to augment them at some point, and it’s not quite the same thing as a human touch; but, particularly in those rough early days of your business’s emergence, the opportunities these handy little tools will offer you to iron out the creases in your new business’s online presence might just be what keeps it going long enough to hire that “human touch”.
- Scaling Steady Wins the Race
Now, it pretty much goes without saying that you’re going to have to invest in a little more than free social media accounts before too long. Your business’s online presence is like a flowerbed in that regard – your business won’t do any growing if the bed is restricted to some narrow plastic pot.
That said, there’s no sense in throwing the seed right into an acre of soil, is there? Gotta at least let it sprout a little.
Put less indulgently, your business’s online presence, important as it is, has to be started small. Paying for promo-posts on six different social media platforms and producing minute-long YouTube ads is great and all; but when you’re an emerging new business, don’t make the mistake of thinking that it’ll get you in the bag for worldwide renown.
Sure, it can get you some serious publicity; but it can also eat up your money and leave you high and dry before you’re known as anything more than “that company that used to keep showing up on YouTube videos”. Advertising, despite what some may believe, is not a matter of who can shout their brand name the loudest or plaster their logo on the most things. If that was the case, no brand would lead any industry for longer than a month.
No, like most things in business – and, for the most part, in life – the best approach is to start reasonably small, and scale steadily up.
Don’t overreach yourself when your business is fresh-faced and unknown; start with a few free social media pages. Aside from being far more merciful to your budget, it’ll also introduce your fresh brand to the world in a way that doesn’t come across as overly pushy (and trust us, users of the modern, advertising-saturated internet do not appreciate that).
And, perhaps most importantly, starting your online presence small will help you pin down the best ways to grow and scale it. Which, as it happens, leads on to the next point…
- Going Through the Old Books
Alright, this one, admittedly, is kind of Business 101. Still, we feel like it bears going over, just for the sake of good old emphasis:
Look at what you did before; and look at what worked. What got attention? What didn’t? What was worth the investment? What wasn’t?
Check out that site where you paid for a banner ad; how’re the visit rates there? How’s your site’s viewing rates been since you put it up? Basically, is the site still worthy of carrying your business’s name?
And we’re not just talking about the stuff you’ve had to pay for, either. Check the free sites you’re running. How’s the likes and shares on your Facebook page? How do they compare to the retweets from your Twitter account? And if running them happens to be eating into your time at all, is it worth considering cutting back on the posting rate? Sure, maybe they’re free; but to any modern business owner, time is no less valuable than money.
Of course, the inverse applies too. If your Facebook page is proving particularly popular, it might be worth shelling out a few bucks to have them promote your posts, and get a few extra likes. Every social media user is a potential follower, and we really can’t say this enough: you can’t put a price on extra publicity.
TL;DR: Look at last year’s expenditure. Get more of what worked; shake of what didn’t. It’s one of the oldest approaches to, well, anything; but we can’t overstate how important it is.
It’s a gamble. It’s business – it’s always a gamble, and there’s always a bit of luck involved. But it’s money that has to be spent. A business is nothing without advertising; and while it goes without saying that there’s no guarantees, it’s investments like these that could make the difference between your business sinking or swimming.
Just remember: if you were running this business forty years ago, you could only dream of the advertising opportunities afforded you today.