Recently I hosted a marketing questions and answers session with eight women in business. Prior to the event I asked each of the participants to submit their biggest marketing challenges to me via email.
What surprised me about their questions were that most of the business owners were doing two things….
1. Just using one marketing channel
An overwhelming 90% of respondents came back with the same response:
- That they were only posting on social media, as a form of marketing.
- Because they didn’t know how else to get in front of customers.
- They were doing a small bit of business networking but they dreaded it as it was putting them outside of their comfort zone.
2. They didn’t have a marketing strategy or plan
The second area that became apparent, was that many small business owners fail to invest in a marketing strategy and plan for their business. Only 5% of small businesses in Australia have a sales and marketing plan. Without this you are setting yourself up to fail.
As well as building a marketing strategy and plan, it’s then important that you set aside money for marketing your business each month.
Allocating a marketing spend each month, is crucial to get in front of your ideal client with your core message. This marketing spend can be used to attract new clients to your business via Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Search Engine Optimisation etc.
Why are business owners not using a wider marketing channel mix?
Many of the business owners I meet skip the vital step of conducting market research with their ideal client. But this step is vital, because the market research findings, can then be used to plan your marketing channel mix. This becomes your marketing plan. It’s how you reach your ideal customers and move them through their buying journey.
You need to thoroughly understand your ideal client, and understand how they research and buy.
This step is so important, and is a crucial part of developing a marketing strategy and plan for your business. By skipping this step you can waste a lot of time and money on ineffective marketing activities.
What are the marketing channels?
Once you have a marketing strategy in place, how do you plan your marketing channels? There are 16 marketing channels. I do not advocate that you need to use all 16, what I suggest is that you use the right mix for your unique business, to reach your potential customers.
The aim of your marketing is to get a potential customer to know, like and trust you.
Which means providing useful helpful information to help them make their purchase decision.
The 16 Marketing Channels
- Referral Marketing – This includes intentional word of mouth activities and generating referrals for your business e.g. attending a business networking group.
- Public Relations – This includes activities aimed at receiving coverage in traditional media outlets.
- Online Advertising – This includes the use of pay-per-click platforms, social networks, display ads and re-targeting e.g. Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, Google Ads, LinkedIn Ads, YouTube Ads, Amazon Ads etc.
- Offline Advertising – This includes advertising in offline print and broadcast outlets such as magazine, TV and radio.
- Content Marketing – This includes publishing, optimising and sharing educational content that draws search traffic, links and subscribers e.g. blogs, videos, podcasts, eBooks etc.
- Sales Playbooks– This is the creation of specific actions aimed at mining, generating, nurturing and converting leads into customers of your business.
- Email Marketing – This includes the use of targeted and automated email campaigns e.g. a weekly tips newsletter.
- Utility Marketing – This includes the creation of useful tools that stimulates traffic to your website, sharing and brand awareness e.g. An eBook.
- Influencer Marketing – This includes the practice of building relationships with individuals that can influence their pre-established fan base.
- Search Engine Optimisation – This includes on page and off page optimisation activities aimed at generating organic search engine traffic.
- Strategic Partner Marketing – This includes co-marketing activities run in collaboration with strategic marketing partners.
- Social Media Marketing – This includes the act of building engagement on established platforms and networks such Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, TikTok, Pinterest and LinkedIn.
- Online Events – This includes events such as webinars, online demonstrations, and workshops conducted using online tools.
- Offline Events – This includes events such as workshops, seminars, expos and customer events.
- Speaking Engagements – This includes speaking at industry events, events within your target market, to position yourself as an expert in your field, in front of an audience that is your target market.
- Community Building – Building and facilitating a community around a shared interest or topic related to your business e.g. the free Facebook group Marketing School.
How do you plan your marketing channel mix?
The starting point is to do your market research, to understand the following aspects about your ideal customers:
- What triggers their need for your product/service?
- Where do they search for solutions?
- How do they search, what information do they need?
- How do they weight up their options between solutions?
- What platforms are they responsive to, and which social channels are they using?
- What marketing channels do the respond well to?
Once you have this information you can use it to plan your marketing channel mix. And start getting your message in front of the right people at the right time in the right format, to help them along their buying journey.
So do your market research, then using the findings to plan which of the 16 marketing channels will help you to reach your ideal client with your core message, and guide them along to making a purchasing decision.
Which is ultimately choosing you and your business as the solution. If you need help building a marketing strategy and plan for your business, then our 8 week online marketing course, Marketing School could be just what you need:
iStock Image Credit: Adriana Cahova