Before the days of the internet and Facebook statuses, marketing was a constant uphill battle for a lot of startups and small businesses.
Today, it is still an uphill battle. However, digital marketing has made the task of establishing a business presence much less intimidating. In fact, some might argue that it levels the playing field and gives the smaller guys an opportunity to shine in a way the big enterprises simply cannot.
There are a number of reasons why the market will always root for the underdog. As startups and small to medium sized businesses know, they have a lot to gain from a well-planned digital marketing campaign and must make sure every single dollar is put to good use.
If this sounds like you, take a look at these five tips to help compete and work towards a David and Goliath story for your business.
Small Business Marketing Tips
1. Invest in Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Did you know that 81 percent of shoppers will begin their buying process with a Google search? Or that 35 percent of all ecommerce traffic comes from search engines?
Think of SEO as the word-of mouth of the internet. Regardless of whether you own an e-commerce platform, a brick-and-mortar store, or both, investing in SEO is one of the smartest business decisions you can make to put yourself on the map.
If planned correctly, you will see an incredible ROI without breaking your bank. SEO is effective due to the fact that the customer is already looking for you, or the service you provide. This is where targeting the right customers with the right keywords helps a lot. In the hands of a marketer who knows their stuff, tools like Ahref’s Keyword Explorer prove invaluable in reaching your target audience:
However, the most important thing to keep in mind about SEO is that you will not likely see significant results overnight. Like most paid options, your visibility will be tied to your budget. SEO is a long-term investment. Don’t give up if you don’t see success right away. It can take weeks, or even months. Keep investing and eventually, you will see good results.
2. Showcase Expertise with Stellar Content
Content marketing has been the central focus in the digital realm for quite a while now. Content is the foundation of brand messaging. The task is producing material in the form of blog posts, infographics, videos, etc. suited to the platform of your choice.
Content creation is a golden opportunity for businesses of all sizes to shine and let the world know what they are made of and what profound value they can provide.
The trick to creating grade-A content is knowing your target audience down to a tee while fielding their most prevalent questions or concerns.
Take Firmoo for example. An online store for eyeglasses, they know that their product is typically one where customers like to go to a brick-and-mortar location and physically try it on.
In turn, they go above in beyond on their website to provide all the information the customer might need. In addition to perfected product listings, they publish a blog that addresses pressing questions within the industry.
Content is truly an underdog’s best friend. Google loves fresh, relevant material. The higher quality you produce, the better you will do in the search rankings. Everyone wins.
3. Seek out Influencers
Influencer marketing is all about expanding your community. An influencer is basically a prominent figure with a large following. The goal is to find one pertaining to your target market and getting them to talk about your business to their loyal fan base. When you find the right one, it can do wonders for startups and small to medium sized businesses.
Start by brainstorming a list of who might have the strongest impact on your audience. This could be anyone like a blogger, politician, Instagram model, or even another business owner.
For example, Boxed Water came up with a genius influencer marketing campaign titled “The Retree Project.” For every Instagram post tagged with #Retree, Boxed Water planted two trees. It paired with the National Forest Foundation and other Instagram influencers to spread the word about their philanthropy. As of this writing, they have planted over half a million trees!
4. Make a Serious Effort to Get Online Reviews
We’ve all heard the stats on how important online reviews are these days. Perhaps the most mind-boggling one is that 90 percent of shoppers incorporate them into their purchasing process.
With that being said, customer reviews and testimonials can be a game changer for startups and small to medium sized businesses. This means that the underdogs need to make a huge effort to gather feedback from customers.
Following a purchase, it is wise to send an email encouraging customers to rate them on the big review sites like Yelp, or with a simple form to fill out regarding their experience.
Asking for reviews is a very simple task and can bring unbelievable results. The key is providing noteworthy service that warrants good feedback.
5. Never Stop Tracking, Analyzing and Improving
Tracking your results is perhaps the most important piece of the marketing puzzle. Without the keeping tabs on analytics, you won’t have a good knowledge of what you are doing well and what needs to be altered or optimized.
Keep a close eye on your targeted keywords as well as content performance so you know how to make your next move. This process is how you see that your money is well spent.
One of the best ways to put yourself ahead of the game is by backing up each decision you make with actionable data. If you haven’t already, look into domain analytics tools like SEMrush or a multi-channel dashboard like Cyfe in addition to your regular Google Analytics, in order to make sure each of your business moves are being properly tracked.
Marketing in the 21st century is a fascinating entity. Never before has there been such precision and trackable information on every single move made by businesses. The best part about it is that budget isn’t nearly as big of a difference-maker as it once was. As a result of all the modern advancements, startups and small and medium sized businesses have a real shot at bringing the competition straight to the big guys. With the right strategy and proper planning, every underdog can make it big.
Little Fighting Big Photo via Shutterstock
Instead of investing blindly in SEO, it is important to learn that SEO is just a technical way of building connections on the Internet. You must build connections if you want to stand out.
I wholeheartedly agree with this article! One thing I may add would be optimizing your small business website for conversions. After all, the goal is to drive traffic to your site through great content, SEO, etc. so you must be prepared for what happens when that traffic arrives.
Online reviews allow your customers to vouch for you & that can be enough to win a customer over a bigger competitor.
Hi Pratik, thanks for the read. I think you have a nice selection of methodologies, perhaps with a few caveats. Firstly, if startups and SMBs are only relying upon low to no cost channels then they’re really going to limit their growth potential; it’s often quite possible to develop a paid multi-channel digital marketing campaign that delivers a strong ROAS, which in turn allows for immediate growth. Second, if people are looking for low cost SEO then they’re often going to end up getting no results, or worse – causing a lot of damage. We spend a lot of time for our clients fixing the problems caused by other agencies, so I highly recommend going for the highest possible quality when it comes to SEO.
I Just started learning this technique to optimize my bussiness
SEO really helps. Your competitors may have a hard time catching up if you show on top of the search engine results.
I agree with Get Online Reviews but do people still search for services on Yelp?