MARKETING 101 – FOR SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS.

Effective marketing is a key driver of growth for your small business. Good brands online build wealth and equity. Each time you market you are increasing the value of your small business and going digital is one of the best ways to achieve this. It goes without saying that the success of your small business relies on a strong brand and  online presence. But if you do not have a background in marketing, where do you start?

We have provided some “small business marketing 101’s” which may help and motivate you to get the ball rolling:

1-GAIN KNOWLEDGE THROUGH RESEARCH

Prior to developing your marketing strategy, the first preliminary step is to conduct market research. It’s important to gain as much information and insight as possible into your customers’ buying patterns as well as their drivers. Market research is also the best way to monitor market trends and be one step ahead of your competitors by ensuring you are observing their activities and learning from their mistakes.

2-DEFINE YOUR MARKET

Once you have conducted your research make sure you have a solid understanding of the demographic and psychographic profile of your target market actually and an understanding of their needs, behaviours, drivers and blockers. This can be achieved through online analytics, surveys, social media patterns and of course, by asking them.

3-DETERMINE WHAT MAKES YOUR BUSINESS UNIQUE

The key to effective sales and marketing is to define and promote your USPs – “Unique Selling Points”.

Unless you can clarify and articulate what makes your business unique amongst your competitors, it’s hard to stand out as the preferred option and to reel in your audience successfully.

USPs may require fresh ideas and thinking outside the box – it isn’t always as simple as unquantified metrics such as ‘better customer service’ or ‘better product’. The trick to choosing USPs that will clearly differentiate your offering is to ensure they are relevant, desirable and genuinely meet the needs of your target market.

Once your USPs are established, find a clear and simple way to communicate them to your prospects. Consistency is key – ensure your core USPs are splashed all over your marketing, as a creed to live by.

With repetition comes memorability and as a result, your target audience will always associate you with the promises you are making. The most important aspect of developing your USPs is to ensure they are deliverable. Trust is everything in small business.

4-UNDERSTAND DIGITAL MARKETING OR HIRE A PROFESSIONAL TO NAIL IT FOR YOU!

You won’t regret it! Digital marketing is now the most popular and successful way small businesses can promote their products or services. It is highly measurable, enabling you to track your ROI and brand awareness as well as delivering higher conversion rates than via many other media.

Many small business owners and business managers perceive digital marketing as too complicated and time consuming. However, there are many courses that can assist you by providing the kick start you may require to set up a professional presence on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. If you need assistance in optimising your results, professionals in the digital marketing space can help you reach a wider audience of qualified prospects through pixel campaigns, remarketing and retargeting as well as creating engaging and relevant content.

Before you jump into content creation however, you should develop an effective digital marketing strategy that will lay the foundations for your targeting, messaging, scheduling and creative execution to enable you to benefit from the power of social media networking platforms to support and grow your business.

5-GET REPEAT BUSINESS THROUGH NURTURING TACTICS.

Keeping your current clientele happy and onboard is key to building “word or mouth” leads and repeat business. This requires nurturing and relationship building as opposed to overt sales tactics.

Don’t focus all your communications with a client on promoting your products or services. Share relevant and valuable information with them without asking for anything in return. Request their feedback and input on decisions you are making. Consider keeping information about birthdays and other occasions in order to surprise them by sending e-cards and vouchers.

Keeping in touch with your customers through social media, blogs, newsletters, email and SMS will show you are active, listening and willing to reach out regularly.

Most importantly, always listen to your customers’ needs and expectations and never fail to deliver on your promises. If you unwittingly do drop the ball, be honest and fix the issue immediately, transparently and empathetically. The way you address failings can turn a disengaged client into one who will be loyal for the long term.

6-CONTINUOUSLY MONITOR YOUR STRATEGY AND REVIEW RESULTS

In order to determine what is and isn’t working, regular monitoring of your marketing activities is required. Have your objectives been met? Are your activities supporting your marketing strategy? Is your messaging on track?

There are various analytics tools available such as Hootsuite, Google Analytics, Kissmetrics, SproutSocial, BuzzSumo and Hotjar that can help you to analyse the results of your social media activities, digital marketing and website campaigns to determine what is working, what can be improved and which avenue is more effective.

All in all, the success of a small business depends on the business owner’s willingness and ability to market their products and services effectively. Any successful entrepreneur will tell you, good marketing leads to sales which is essential for your business to thrive.

Congratulations to our Fight Back Small Business Winner!

We can all agree that 2020 has been tough for small business owners. With this in mind, we recently ran a competition allowing our small business community to share their stories. We have heard stories of courage, strength, stamina and motivation. We thank our entrants for taking the time to inspire our small business community with hope and reassurance during these unprecedented times.

Congratulations to the winner of our Fight Back Competition, Allan Hopper, founder of hopperound – The Travel Agency. We celebrate the positive spirit and dedication of Allan Hopper, founder of hopperound – The Travel Agency.

Allan has two strong passions in life, and that’s people and travel; hence the birth of hopperound, a personable travel agency with a big heart for its clients.

Allan and his team pride themselves on their ‘start to finish’ customer support which they conduct for each individual client. They support their clients throughout their entire journey, right from the moment they pick up the phone to propose their travel dreams, through the planning stages, during their travels, right up until the moment they return.

It’s this style of customer support that has had him successfully run his agency purely through word of mouth and repeat business. “We go to great lengths for our clients, so they don’t have to do a thing – besides enjoy their holiday,” said Allan. “I am proud to say as a result of this, we have had the same loyal clients for over 20 years.”

When Covid-19 hit our shores in February-March 2020, panic set in within the travel industry. Today, approximately 30% of travel agencies have sadly closed due to an immense loss of business.

Allan went from having an extremely busy and profitable period around January and February to receiving absolutely no income in the following months. “In the middle of March, when reality sunk in, everything fell apart,” he explained.

With a heavy heart, Allan had no choice but to let go of his contractors and his Head Office Accounts Manager, who also happens to be his sister. Together, they cried. “This is when it really hit and it was at this point, we thought we will take a big hit. But we also thought it would all be over as quick as it began,” Allan said. Like everyone else, Allan had no way to predict the extent of the pandemic and how long it would stick around… Today, we are still uncertain.

Once the shock subsided, Allan and his sister turned to light-hearted humour to keep their spirits high and Allan chose to switch his mind to planning mode and started to look towards the future.

Allan decided to restore hope in clients and others within the community by creating a social media presence to keep the travel bug alive – virtually. Allan took to Instagram and Facebook to provide his audience with beautiful travel images, tips and stories, and as a result, his online following grew, a great boost for brand recognition.

“Although travel agents are not currently booking a huge amount of travel, we are still working full time for our clients,” said Allan. “I have been spending a huge amount of time helping my clients get credit or their money back from various holidays that they have had to cancel.”

You can imagine the stress involved in contacting various vendors all over the world and the amount of money lost for those who did not engage a travel agent. Allan’s loyalty had him working above and beyond to ensure the best outcomes for his disappointed clients.

Today, Allan is working on his marketing strategy and thinking of a brighter future. “I foresee travel agencies becoming a much bigger necessity going forward, similar to what it was like before we were replaced by online bookings,” he said.

After the scare of a pandemic and the millions of dollars lost by travellers who have had to cancel bookings through major companies who have not addressed their woes, a travel agent seems like a very safe method of booking travel going forward.

There’s no doubt travel will be a more complicated and much stricter process once all borders have opened. It’s inevitable that the majority of us will feel a sense of comfort being supported by professionals in the industry who will ensure our arrangements are conducted safely and accurately. If anything happens, it will be reassuring to know we have a familiar agent on the phone who will help us during any situation, like Allan and his team at hopperound.

Allan has had to undergo big changes in his business and inject money, time and energy towards planning, marketing, training and webinars to ensure he is ready for the next big shift that is predicted to occur. Hopefully this will be a positive one.

Going forward, those clients who love to book online – activities, cars, cruises, flights, hotels, insurance, tours etc. – will be able to do so via our website, with the security of having their bookings backed by an accredited travel agency. The same professional service will apply, meaning when things don’t go according to plan, we step in to help.

Within this current climate, if you don’t have a flexible and open mind, and if you are not willing to change and grow, you may as well throw in the towel.

For now, Allan has changed his slogan to keep the motivation and dream alive for himself and his clients. He signs his emails off as:

“Allan Hopper I Founder
hopperound – The Travel Agency

Hibernating, Reinventing & Dreaming of Travel.
“Be Safe, Stay Connected & Dream With Us.”

Should you wish to travel to any destination where it is safe to venture in the near future, we highly recommend you contact hopperound. Allan and his team will have your back from start to finish.

Website below:
hopperound.com.au

Is Instagram a valuable tool for your business?

For those of you who are considering (or already using) Instagram to grow your brand, we know some handy tips that can help you get noticed.

Social media platforms are constantly evolving and shifting their algorithms. It’s hard to keep up with the new trends and features added to these particular platforms each year. It can be frustrating for marketing professionals who are constantly required to shift their strategies and rethink their methods.  We have decided to put together a few handy tips which will hopefully help you stand out above your competitors and grow your audience:

  1. Video is king. Videos always get noticed and they are a great way to get your message across. If you wanted to use videos that go over the 30 second limit, then IGTV is a wonderful new tool that enables you to upload lengthy videos that can be uploaded on your desktop as well as your smartphone!
  2. Visual appeal. Instagram is an extremely visual tool that can really help to strengthen your brand. It’s advisable to create a distinctive look, utilise your colour scheme where possible and consider the entire look of your tiles, not just focus on one image at a time. Remember your Instagram look and feel publicly reflects your business.
  3. Interact with your audience 10-15 mins after you post! Instagram’s algorithm picks up on engagement within the first half an hour of publishing your post. If it recognises activity, it sees your recent post as something worth pushing up the feed which will help you to get more attention. You can do this by selecting a relevant hashtag and liking a few posts within this hashtag – this will enable you to get attention from the recipients who will be intrigued by your like, look you up and return the favour.
  4. Stories get noticed! Due to the constant changing of algorithm in Instagram, it’s hard to predict if your post will actually generate engagement. The best way to stay at the top of the page and in front of your followers is by posting stories regularly. One thing you can do is to add your most recent posts to your stories as well – you can simply add text: “check out our new post” or something more quirky to get attention. If you have more than 10,000 followers, you are also able to add links to your stories which is really handy when selling products.
  5. Strategise your hashtags # Hashtags are the best way to grow your audience and increase your reach organically. If you are using the wrong hashtags, you are getting the wrong followers and the wrong attention. Hashtags are like SEO – you need the strategise which keywords or phrases will lead the audience to your page.
  6. Look at your competitors It’s always a good idea in marketing to look at your direct competitors, not to copy their style, but to investigate their hashtags. You can see what works for them and what doesn’t and apply this knowledge to your own methods.
  7. Key words in your bio:Ensure your Instagram bio has targeted keywords strategically placed in or under your name. Like SEO for your website, your target audience can find you more easily through an Instagram search if you have relevant keywords in your bio.

Marketers all over the world are convinced that Instagram is a power marketing tool for business. The below are the most recent stats on Instagram usage for 2020 for those who are trying to build a business brand:

  • 1 billion people use Instagram every month
  • 500 million people use Instagram Stories
  • 63% of Instagram users log in at least once per day
  • Instagram users will spend an average of 28 minutes per day on the platform in 2020
  • 200 million Instagram users visit at least one business profile daily
  • Instagram’s potential advertising reach is 849.3 million users
  • One-third of the most viewed stories are from businesses
  • Brands post an average of 2.5 stories per week
  • 75.3% of U.S. businesses will use Instagram in 2020.

If you are looking to expand your presence and enhance the visibility of your products or services, then Instagram is a highly recommended platform. If you have not jumped on the Instagram bandwagon yet, you may be doing your business a great disservice. Contact the team at Milestone-Belanova for further tips or advice in regards to your Social Media strategy.