Digital Marketing Fundamentals for Entrepreneurs

As the digital landscape has evolved, the fundamentals of digital marketing have expanded scope. Today, digital marketing is comprised of multiple areas which involve a coordinated, integrated strategy to attract new customers, gain a share of voice, and position your firm for your strengths.

Digital marketing is comprised of:

  • Content Strategy
  • SEO
  • Blogging
  • Social Media and social media sharing and advertising
  • Email marketing
  • Search marketing pay per click

The presentation embedded here covers each of these areas. It is one which has been presented in several iterations, most lately to entrepreneurs at the SCORE chapter here in the Lowcountry.

If you want a refresher on the components of digital marketing, you may find some tasty tidbits among these slides.

Slides from the presentation are posted on SlideShare and embedded below.

Image to Link to Digital Marketing Fundamentals

If you are viewing this and don’t see the embedded presentation, click on the image above to link over to SlideShare.

Gaining New Information from Old Ground

Dig in for fresh marketing insights

As a child, I envisioned myself an archeologist. Digging in pits, dusting off ancient bones, pottery or dinosaur bones. What compelled me was the expectation that I could make surprising discoveries.

Recently, scientists announced new discoveries at Stonehenge, that ancient site which is a profound mystery. Over the course of several years they used non-invasive technologies including motorized magnometers, ground-penetrating radar arrays, electromagnetic induction sensors, earth resistance surveys, and 3-D laser scanners to help them see below the surface. Analysis of their mapping proved startling.

Their fresh way of seeing has uncovered (virtually, as no actual digging was done) information as well as previously undetected structures in the area surrounding Stonehenge. Read articles from National Geographic and Fast Company.

What new discoveries can you make?

Science is replete with stories of ground-breaking discoveries made by reviewing familiar territory. Yet, I see few small businesses using similar scientific diligence or even gaining new observations.

Taking a new perspective, using novel methods of analysis or just sitting down with your customers can lead to astounding insights which lead you to innovation. Whether from fear of the new or from paralysis, many plod the known path, and never diverge to the uncut field, breaking new ground.

Most critical to any new insight is data. Research. Comprehension. How often do you consider what your customers need, not what you have to sell. Or how easy it is for you to sell it. Going over the old ground of why and how you established your business can yield insights. So can interviewing customers.

Recently a client asked me what should she do to help her gain more business. But she had no marketing research or observations from which to form conclusions. Or to gain clues to things buried in the landscape, just awaiting the archaeologist’s trowel.

Observe, ask, seek to get marketing research

Research is an often feared tactic. Many business owners think it expensive and a waste of time. And undertaken with that point of view, is probably true. Many avoid customer service surveys and even the simple Net Promoter Score which is based on a single question: “Would you recommend this to a friend?” Just a simple question with highly complex ramifications. If seven out of ten say, “no,” then your business is failing to meet customer expectations. Meaning your business is vulnerable. You are just a hair away from failing.

Small enterprise’s new products and services are often built on “me too” knee-jerk response to societal or commercial trends, but not as often tested to validate a particular firm’s customers need the service.

With the tools of the Internet, it’s not hard to format a straight forward customer survey. Or find existing research.

So, if you want to gather a bit of insight, start with frank conversation with a few of your most longstanding customers. The ones who know you well. Ask them the big question: “What do you wish we would do better?” Don’t flinch or equivocate, listen. Record their answers. Either audio or by taking notes. Follow that question up with “What do you wish we could do to help your business grow?” OR “What do you wish we did that we don’t do now?” Then finally, “When have we served you best?”

In the last half-decade anthropologists have become essential partners to big business; observing everything from how customers interact with products to how they peruse shopping aisles. These observations provide fresh insights which lead to product innovation.

You can do the same thing if you have a retail store. (Note, if you’re doing this, be sure to have customer service people in the store so you don’t have to worry about customers being helped.) Practice observation. Really seeing without trying to figure out what you can do to make a sale. You may find that the display you most wanted your shoppers to see is never approached. Or that your too precise array of merchandise doesn’t invite handling.

Getting help

Life has a way of detouring from childhood dreams. In my case, I’m not an archeologist, but a marketing consultant. And that’s great. I get to help talented business people make new discoveries every day.

If you don’t feel you have the neutrality, time or ability to observe or question your customers, we do. We can arrange customer interviews, observe customers on location or conduct in-depth surveys.

Now exactly how did they get those stones to Stonehenge?

Photo credit: Flickr user Bala Sivakumar, Smoking Stonehenge

With Content Marketing: Time Is On Your Side

Rolling Stones song a source of timely advice

Time is on my side Rolling Stones

Just as a young Mick Jagger sings in the Rolling Stones classic hit, ‘Time is on My Side,’ “You’ll come running back go me…” so it is with a long-term content marketing strategy. Well planned content keeps your customers coming back to you for advice and knowledge.

Forbes author John Hall writes,

…content marketing is not designed to convert leads immediately. The goal is long-term, continuous engagement. In fact, many of our leads have been in our pipeline for quite a while. And that’s fine by us — we’re in no hurry. The more time our leads spend interacting with our content, the more educated they become. In the meantime, they begin to see us as a credible resource. That keeps us top of mind. Read more

A content marketing strategy works day in and day out. Your content builds a collection of information that solves your consumers’ problems and answers their questions. It must develop and sustain a relationship with consumers—helping them become your brand advocates. The Rolling Stones certainly have done this over time. The band continues to pull in people through tours, media interviews, and while they may physically show their age, their music (their content) lives on, fresh as it was when first released.

What do you do with your content?

Once you’re built your content (videos, slide presentations, ebooks, whitepapers, blog posts, infographics, photos) then you become a distributor of that content.

Great networks into which you may share your content include:

  1. Your own website’s blog
  2. YouTube
  3. SlideShare
  4. LinkedIn
  5. Pinterest
  6. Facebook
  7. Instagram
  8. Scribd
  9. Flickr

Getting time on your side

We recommend that a content marketing strategy be planned for at least six months, a time commitment that will provide you with great content to use in marketing your services.

The most difficult thing for many small business owners to commit to is time to create content that supports their ongoing business development goals. However, when you realize that your content is the anchor of your marketing strategy, it becomes easier to make and keep a commitment to creating and sharing content.

With the use of a strategy aligned to your business goals, it will be less confusing to decide what types of content and messages to create. For example if you’re a pool supplies retailer and summer is your big season, plan a series of content (blog posts, pictures, videos, infographics) around answering common questions about managing the chemical levels in the pool, cleaning the pool, pool safety and pool maintenance.

Use the “trending” and search functions on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Google Trends to “listen in” to what consumers are saying, not only about your industry and brand, but pay attention to what is influencing them. When you comprehend what consumers’ behavior is relative to the types of services you provide, you can more efficiently focus content  in direct response to issues identified in your research.

If you need more inspiration, enjoy the classic version of Time is On My Side.

Need help developing your content, strategy or posting and sharing it? Check out our content marketing services.