I’m a small business owner who’s not ready to reinvent the wheel.
We don’t have the budget, the resources, or the interest in developing a blue ocean.
We do have the budget, resources, and interest in making a proven channel work for us.
The challenge is that the proven marketing strategies have more competition than ever.
In PPC (pay per click) advertising, the CPC (cost per click) is rising across the board. Unless you already know what you’re doing, an education is only going to get more expensive as time goes on.
If you have the budget for it, I’d suggest hiring a consultant to walk you through it and help you get your first campaigns profitable.
That’s not what this post is about. I want to take a look at alternative ways that have been proven to work no matter what other factors are at play.
Standing for a cause
94% of consumers are likely to be loyal to a brand that offers complete transparency. That means your processes, initiatives, and what you stand for are out in the open.
A cause is powerful because people can align with you on a deeper level. Instead of being a company that makes awesome widgets, you can become the company that makes awesome widgets and cares about the environment.
When your customers align with your values, they go above and beyond to support you. According to the latest social media statistics, 49% of Facebook users like a brand’s Facebook page to show their support. It’s not because they love the widgets but because they want the brand to grow.
How do you find a cause to stand for?
Ideally, this should come from within based on your core values and mission statement. If that’s not clearly defined, you should spend time thinking about what makes you different as a company. What things are important to you?
Get help from your customers and audience by polling them to understand what they care about. If there’s a general consensus among your followers and it’s something in line with your branding, jump behind relevant causes.
I’ve simplified this process to the bare minimum. It can be a powerful marketing strategy but it needs to be taken seriously once you do settle on a cause you want to champion. You may come under fire for it at some point.
That’s what happened with Chobani. The founder made it a point to be vocal about helping and employee immigrants. It resulted in threats, attacks on his character, and calls to boycott the company. The founder and the company doubled down on its stance and came out stronger. Can you do the same?
Hosting a podcast
Many other online mediums are at the point of saturation. There are millions of YouTube channels, blogs, Facebook profiles, etc.
There are also hundreds of thousands of podcasts consistently producing content. This may seem like a lot in an absolute sense but it’s a relatively small number.
According to Edison Research, over 50% of Americans have heard of podcasts, 32% listen to them regularly, and people are consuming almost 20 hours of audio content online every week.
Attention is getting more and more concentrated within podcasts and now is a great time to capitalize. There are numerous inexpensive or free podcast hosts, tons of resources to help you understand the nuances of podcast marketing, and a large community to lean on.
To get the ball rolling, create a dedicated landing page for your podcast that’s easily accessible to site visitors. Include your latest episodes as well as links to subscribe via their favorite podcast player. Within your podcast, promote your products and services.
The important part of starting a successful podcast is properly selecting the niche you want to tackle. Healthy living, business, lifestyle, etc. are too broad and have entrenched players like Joe Rogan which command millions of listeners.
Instead, come up with a unique angle within a smaller niche. Go two levels deeper. Instead of business, you want to talk about marketing. Within marketing, you want to go another level deeper and focus on something like content marketing. That’s still too broad if I’m being honest but it’s just to illustrate a point.
After you gain a bit of traction, you can expand to a wider space. In addition to direct sales for your business, your podcast can grow large enough to produce revenue on its own through sponsored mentions of other brands. It’s something to consider.
Going back to forums
Forums are treated like the red-headed stepchild of the marketing world. This is because most people who get on forums expect to drop a link and unlock the floodgates of traffic and recognition.
It doesn’t work like that now and I’m sure it never has. To unlock the benefits of forums, there are two prerequisites. The forum has to be large enough and you have to give before you take.
Note: Forum refers to any website that has a core community aspect while excluding social media website features like Facebook groups.
Find out if the forum has a large and active community by looking at the frequency of posts, total number of posts/threads, and total member count (if applicable). When a forum is active and large enough, there’s a simple process you can follow:
- Create your profile and fill it out completely
- Add a signature (if applicable)
- Follow topics directly related to your business and those that are tangentially related
- Participate in one conversation per topic a day for at least a week
- When you’re able too, create a thread that’s truly valuable to the members for the forum. Aim for an inspirational post
- Repeat step four for another week.
- Create a post with a more promotional focus. At this point, many forum members will have started to recognize you and consider you a part of the community (which you are).
- Rinse and repeat but always make sure you’re giving more than you’re taking.
Offline meetups or conferences
In the digital age, everything is about scale and speed. When it comes to conversions, nothing beats face to face interactions. That’s because the person on the other end won’t ignore you.
You’ll have an opportunity to give them your pitch explain the value you bring to the table. Online, anyone can just scroll past your ad or post. Not only do you have their attention, but you can also refine your message and tailor it to their specific situation.
For example, Acme Inc. sells blue widgets. Instead of saying that its widgets are awesome, it can first ask prospects what their struggling with. When it finds out, it can position the blue widgets it sells as the solution to that problem.
It can also take those learnings and update marketing campaigns or advertising campaigns. Keep in mind that there’s a time and a place to sell and it should be used more as a testing ground to get real-time feedback.
Instead of pitching everyone at your meetup, talk to them about their challenges, current solutions, and its shortcomings. If your products can be pitched as a solution then so be it. If not, then leave it out of the conversation.
When you take this approach, any pitch you do end up making is seen as more genuine. More than a quick sale, meetups and conferences are a great place to find partnership opportunities. This leads me to the last business marketing strategy I want to touch on.
If you’re not doing partnerships in one form or another then you’re stunting your growth. Partnerships are a high impact low effort (usually) way to grow your business.
What’s the worst-case scenario?
You don’t get any new customers but you’ve forged connections with other business owners in a related field, have gotten in front of new audiences, and strengthen your brand.
The challenge is finding the right partner for your business. Some of them are too far ahead and some of them are too far behind.
With that being said, affiliate partners that are compensated on performance can be a great way to grow your business. The nuances of affiliate marketing are beyond the scope of this post but there are a few things to keep in mind. Find a strong affiliate software that allows you to track performance, set payouts, block shady affiliates, etc. You’ll also want to take the time to find and support the best affiliates in the beginning. They’ll make or break your program.
At my company, we’ve established different kinds of partnerships. Some of them are for exchanging services, some are for SEO, and some are for direct response promotions.
To get it right, it’s important to align with the goals of your partner. What do they hope to accomplish? As long as you keep that in mind, your partnership is more likely to be a success. If you don’t put their goals front and center then you may join the 70% of partnerships that fail.
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when almost everything you need to know has already been figured out.
This article has gone through 5 business marketing strategies that may not win you any awards but will guarantee your business keeps growing. Choose one or two to start with and tweak until it yields an ROI. From there, move on to the next one.