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The Ultimate Digital Marketing Guide

digital marketing guide for small business
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The ultimiate digital marketing guide is full of information and strategy to help your business grow. In an effort to keep it simple and easy to follow we broke it down to 4 major steps because we know digital marketing and advertising can be quite a challenge. When you’re a small business owner, whether it’s a general contracting business, a local catering business, or any other specialty service company, it can be tough to find the time for getting the word out about your offerings to the people who will pay for it.

That’s the overall goal with marketing and advertising — to get your services in front of the right people who will give you money in exchange. Anything else is the scope of companies that have much larger budgets. Large corporations can afford to have campaigns that just have words like “happiness” in them and still succeed, like Coca-Cola or Home Depot.

But for companies that don’t bring in billions of dollars in revenue — and, more likely, might only bring in numbers in the thousands — you have to be more judicious in how you spend your marketing and advertising budget. So make sure to bookmark this digital marketing guide, as it’s all-inclusive and is a great starting point for accomplishing more with your budget.

So whether you’re looking for how to start a property management company or you’ve been getting contracts for your janitorial services business, use this digital marketing guide to make your marketing and advertising do more for you.

The Basics of Digital Marketing

The one thing that is universal in all marketing and advertising is knowing where your customers are. This might seem fairly obvious, but in truth, most people make the mistake of assuming that they themselves are “typical” of their clientele. And this often couldn’t be further from the truth. 

For instance, if you’re an expert in renovations, why would you bother paying someone else to do that work? The people who are most likely to pay for such services are those who are fairly disconnected from what you do. This isn’t a problem, quite the opposite. All it means is that you need to put yourself in your customers’ shoes.

Start paying attention to who your customers are, what they like, the types of cars they drive, etc. These are all points that will help you determine your targeting later on. But, it will also let you know up front what platforms are worthwhile and which are a waste of your time.

If you do home repair or some other form of contracting, then you might actually be able to do some effective marketing on a smaller platform like Pinterest, where there are a whole lot of moms and caregivers who need work like you offer done, whereas a platform like Snapchat wouldn’t really make sense.

Knowing who your targets are will make your marketing more effective, saving you time and money. For more on this, check out our article on Digital Marketing for Beginners.

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Social Media for Your Small Business

Social media is one of those things that everyone says you need to be on, but many people find frustrating — almost like running in sand. It can be easy to lose yourself in social media by doing too much and spreading yourself too thin.

First of all, you need to know what the platforms are. You need to know who primarily uses Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Snapchat, and the rest. That way, you can more effectively know if your targets are there. But be careful — marketing and advertising is rarely about “yes and no” or “black and white.” It’s a very gray area. So what you probably should do is prioritize them.

For example, are there people on Snapchat who might pay for your services? Sure! But the amount of work and money it would cost in order to get their attention and convert them into a paying customer would be really inefficient. Facebook, on the other hand, will have more of what you’re looking for, and in much higher quantities. This is about the basics. Sure, there are plenty of brands who could probably sell your services on more obscure social channels, but that will cost money — money that, in your situation, would probably be better spent on another platform.

For more information on what various social media platforms are and how they work, as well as guidance on posting and scheduling, check out our article on Social Media Strategy.

Email Marketing For The Win

There is no other form of marketing that is more effective and efficient than email marketing. This is because it usually costs the least and produces the most revenue. But that doesn’t mean that it’s easy.

First of all, you need a way to legally acquire email addresses, but not just anyone’s. Take, for instance, an email list with a reach of mainly college students. It could be a list of 50,000 people, and still it likely wouldn’t yield a caterer the same returns as, say, a local donut shop. So just keep in mind quality.

Also, do not pay for email lists — you will want to look for places to rent them. This is because you can get blacklisted by tools like MailChimp which facilitate your email list. Plus, there are various laws regarding the practice of email marketing that you want to ensure compliance with.

Finally, the copy that you write in your emails has to be very tactical and well thought-out. There’s a saying in sales, “your 20-second elevator pitch earns you five minutes, and that five minutes earns you a half hour, and from there, you earn the sale.” Similarly, the subject line of an email earns the “open.” the headline copy earns the first paragraph, and each line of text after that earns the next line — all up until the reader decides to click the Call to Action link or button.

This is a practice that takes time and dedication. For more on email marketing, check out our article, Email Marketing Tips For Your Business.

Paid Digital Advertising

One of the best things about paid digital advertising is that it’s cheaper than the “in real life” print versions of marketing and advertisers, and gives small business owners like you the opportunity to compete with larger players.

As we said in the beginning, in respect to knowing where your customers are online, that’s especially true here. When you start paying for actual ads, you want to make sure that your targeting is precise. This is how you save money and compete with larger companies in the same space.

Digital advertising platforms like Facebook and Google have great tutorials so that you can learn to maximize your ads’ effectiveness on your own. They take some time, but they’re very worthwhile and will ensure that you see the returns you’re looking for.

Finally, make sure that you know where sales come from. You can do this by using a unique landing page for people who click certain ads, or even a coupon code for a discount. This lets you know where your sales are coming from, and in that, you can start cutting out the paid advertising that isn’t generating a return.

After all is said and done, advertising is a cycle. Aspects of digital advertising will change every 12–18 months or so, depending on the platform. As such, something that works for a while eventually will stop working. Thus, you need to keep testing new ideas and methods, keeping what works, and stopping what doesn’t. “Guess and check” is still the best way to optimize your ad performance.

For more on paid advertising, make sure to check out our article on Advertising Strategy.

Stick With It

Ultimately, what you have to do is keep trying. If you sell a product or service, marketing and advertising will help your small business. The only real question is “what type is right for my company?”

With that said, remember the old adage, “If, at first, you don’t succeed — try, try again!” Marketing and advertising is part discovery, part execution. That’s why in the beginning, you must think broadly, and steadily become more and more specific as you learn what works. The key is to not give up. Follow this digital marketing guide, and you will be on track to better revenue and more clients. Like all things in life, it takes some hard work and dedication. But the rewards are truly worth it.

Author: Blake Hoffmeyer

Blake is a corporate communications consultant working in the Greater Atlanta area. His specialties are in messaging strategy and tactical implementation of marketing and advertising plans that will work for small businesses. His goal is to spread his knowledge and expertise to help other business owners solve problems without all of the headaches.


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