Marketing isn't as complicated as people think. However, it's not the forte of most businesses owners, which can make it intimidating and land the marketing playbook "on the back burner".
Small businesses and startups typically remember to launch their website, print business cards and tell friends, family and old colleagues about their venture. Growing businesses probably have sales channels, social media and the rest of the "basics" in place. Those are all important, but there are many more (not so complicated) marketing tactics to help brands remain relevant and grow in 2016.
What are some local marketing strategies that startups often overlook?
- They don’t maximize the value of local complimentary partnerships. They can co-sponsor existing events, or simply help promote these other brands’ initiatives. Not only is this good for the community, but it is a way to expose the brand to existing networks and more mature social media followings – immediately increasing their brand awareness in a positive way and growing their email database and social media following if done correctly.
- Influencer Marketing -- recruiting bloggers and celebrities to promote your brand -- is extremely valuable. This is similar to the local partnerships above, but can allow you to reach much larger, differentiated, yet still targeted audiences. With the right strategy in place, this can drive awareness, social media and REVENUE.
- ***Influencer Matchmaking Tool: Head over to InstaHype, submit your campaign and I'll personally provide you FREE tips to ensure the campaign is a success.
- Startups don’t utilize the social media advertising tools for small businesses. While they may have their social media pages setup, they should utilize Facebook and LinkedIn’s geographically targeted social media ads to drive awareness and conversion (new fans, email sign-ups or online purchase).
- New businesses often miss out on easy media opportunities. Local TV and radio stations, local business publications and trade magazines are always in need of positive news about the community, give it to them.
"We have technology, finally, that for the first time in human history allows people to really maintain rich connections with much larger numbers of people." - Pierre Omidyar, Founder, eBay
In terms of claiming digital "real estate," what are the most important things these brands should do?
- Don’t waste too much money on a website. New businesses should be able to launch a website for less than $2,000 using Squarespace, Wix or even a Wordpress template.
- Claim all social media assets using the same ‘vanity URL’ (what it says at the end, like Facebook.com/DoubleLBrands), even if you won’t use them all (and you shouldn’t use them all)
- Setup and/or claim your brand on all review sites (YELP, Google Local, Opentable, Tripadvisor, etc.). This ensures all info is accurate (hours, website, menu), you can upload photos and you’ll be aware of reviews about your business.
- Email Marketing is still extremely valuable, invest the time in setting it up. Use a service like MailChimp to import all the email addresses you have, create a simple template (nothing flashy, be straightforward to keep it more personal) and layout your monthly email strategy to remain top-of-mind.
What else would be included in a list of must-do local marketing strategies for startup businesses?
- Don’t let technology make you forget about the value in a good old-fashioned handshake. Networking is a numbers game, the more people you tell about your business the more opportunity they can help or make an intro for you. Get out to local networking groups, trade associations, community events and everywhere else your customer base or partners may be.
- Invest in taking your email marketing to the next level. Don’t just set this up and email people randomly, really put time into the monthly strategy and use as much automation as possible here. Tools available today let you schedule emails, automate responses and even set other replies to automatically keep the dialogue going – it’s worth your valuable time up-front!
- Build your intern program early on and have your first intern lay the groundwork. Work with local college admissions departments or career services to recruit interns and get them to work! It will take time up-front to give them the right direction, but that investment is worth it when they start contributing and taking work off your plate. Ensure they are documenting all processes, tracking their results and in a place to then help you train the next intern, and the next. ***Pro Tip: Hire 2 or 3 and build-in competitions between then to identify the one you should keep for the long haul.
There are plenty of other tips and tricks to help, please just make sure you don't get caught-up with "new and shiny" (Ex: Don't be on Snapchat if you're selling elderly care products). Always keep the end goal in mind, focus on TRACKING and tweaking your initiatives, and let me know if you have any other questions!