If we know one thing, it’s that small business owners are extremely busy. Generally, marketing takes a backseat and many owners take a passive approach. This is unfortunate, though, since marketing is just too dynamic and integral for your business’ success to be put on the back burner. Marketing takes consistent and frequent analysis and action to work effectively. Read these 10 ways to tell if your small business marketing is working and discover its impact on your business.
1. Do I have a social media following? If so, is my social media following engaged?
We all know, whether to our excitement or our displeasure, that our small business marketing needs incorporate social media. Whether we embrace social media or avoid it at all costs (like myself for personal use), we must unequivocally agree on its importance. But, why is it so important? It’s important for several reasons by:
- Allowing your brand to stay in front of consumers more frequently and casually. Let consumers interact with your brand on their own terms by following your account, liking your content, and sharing it for others in their sphere of influence to see.
- Enabling your small business to collect valuable insight on audience demographics by seeing which groups of people engage with your content and messaging.
- Creating a highly focused advertising strategy. To a marketer’s delight and a user’s dismay, social media collects a tremendous amount of information about its members’ interests/habits. Harness this data to deliver messages and offers to a very specific group of consumers. This group is more likely to be interested in what you sell.
- Acting as your primary source for user generated content. User generated content are pictures, video, etc. created by users of your product/service and posted to their account, tagging your business. This kind of content is so valuable because it is free and powerful advertising, which I address in another article of mine about social media.
2. Is my website relevant? Is it user friendly?
This seems broad and lacking definition. After all, what does a relevant website mean for small business? A relevant website is simply one that meets (and hopefully exceeds) the expectations of a visitor in your target audience. To achieve website relevancy, follow these guidelines:
- All questions a visitor can have are answered logically and found easily
- You have easy ways for the visitor to reach out to your business to find more information. This happens through the placement of helpful and uninterrupting calls-to-action.
- The website is user friendly in that it is enjoyable and easy for a prospect to navigate across all devices. These include: desktop, tablet and mobile phone.
3. Do I understand the wants and needs of my prospects at each stage of the funnel? Am I providing content that aligns with this? Am I creating proper offers to nurture them as they progress through the funnel?
Unfortunately, not everyone comes to your website at a low stage of the funnel ready to buy from you. If the majority of your content and calls to action are aimed at converting visitors to customers, you’ll find this to be a poor strategy yielding unsatisfactory conversion rates. You need to have appropriate content, calls to action, offers, and a flow that also accommodate: 1. those people who have never heard of your product and haven’t quite figured out what problem it is that they are trying to solve 2. those that have identified their problem and are exploring different types of products and services that can fix those problems.
4. Am I getting reviews? On Google (most important), Facebook, Yelp, etc.? Why am I not getting reviews?
We’re way beyond the age of consumers being content with or wanting to be convinced of the merits of a product or service by the small business selling them. Unsurprisingly, they want real reviews by real people who have used the product – can you blame them? This helps potential customers gather, what is to them, unbiased feedback and insight that will validate their purchasing decisions. If your small business marketing efforts aren’t gathering consistent feedback from your customers on their experiences, you’re losing out on one of the most trusted facets of consumer decision making, believe me. Now, some businesses lend themselves to a higher number of reviews, like restaurants, for example. However, any business can get a significant amount of this valuable, public-facing asset. Enabling your customers to leave a review, by presenting the opportunity or suggestion in the right way at the right time, is imperative.
5. Can you attribute contacts and customers to your various campaigns and efforts?
A high-performing business is only good if it knows why it’s doing well, or else it won’t be for long. This means, too, that if your business knows why it isn’t doing well, then you also have the key to turning it around. We know that consumer tastes and industry, as well as macroeconomic, conditions change at an alarmingly quick pace. If you’re not in tune with how these factors affect your business, you will quickly fall behind and get out-competed.
A major component of knowing why you’re doing well is knowing where your leads that turn into customers come from. You need to know: amount of leads; each source you’re getting leads from; the cost to obtain leads from each one of those sources; and, the quality of those leads by source. These are all incredibly important standard metrics to have the means to measure and analyze. After obtaining these, you’ll want to have access to tools that’ll allow you to dive deeper by knowing which campaigns/marketing efforts brought in these leads. This will help you to know which kind of message, offer, and content are resonating the best with your target audience.
6. Are you producing content that’s bringing prospects to you?
We live in the age of content. You may have heard the phrase “Content Is King”. By investing in content in the form of articles, guides, brochures, videos, etc., you are truly investing in a valuable resource that you will get to keep and leverage indefinitely. If done properly, it will work to increase the organic search ranking of your website for as long as it stays online. Digital content can also be tracked and gives you precise reporting. When you invest in content, you’re committing to a high quality lead generation tool that’s crafted around solving the problems and needs of your consumers, based off extensive keyword research. Once you have this content, you can leverage it on: your website; social media; and as the basis for advertisements on paid search, social media, and much more.
Like investing in anything that yields business success, this takes time, energy, and financial commitment. With content creation, there’s a significant up-front cost to produce this “working asset”, as I like to call it. Once developed, however, this working asset will be out there bringing people to your website and educating them on what you want them to know – 24/7. Choosing content as the working asset for your small business marketing means there is no downtime, calling in sick, days off, or leaving for another job. Content is powerful and you’ll never get to the next level without it.
7. Are you focused on delighting the customer even after the sale?
Small business marketing efforts primarily concern attracting leads and converting them into customers. After all, selling is how you bring in revenue and keep the lights on. Consequently, there isn’t too much of a focus on delighting customers after they’ve spent their money. Of course you want to ensure they come back, but what’re you doing to encourage them to “evangelize” your brand? So, what’re you doing to get people to share their experiences with your brand in a positive light on: review platforms (Google My Business Reviews, Facebook, Yelp, etc.), social media, and personally refer those in their sphere of influence to your business? The positive effects of a highly satisfied, influential customer is unknowable. Conversely, the negative effects of a highly dissatisfied customer you didn’t take care of after the sale is also devastatingly unknowable.
8. Did you create a marketing plan? Are you following it?
Your small business marketing efforts have to yield tangible results. Time, money, and personnel resources are just too valuable in a small business to not payoff. The best chances of your marketing efforts paying off come from a concrete marketing plan. Vitally, marketing plans utilize rational thinking to lay out what you’re going to do and, most importantly, why you’re going to do it. This forces you to stay on course and not abandon ship by, say, creating a gimmicky promotion to try and get sales or spend money last minute on advertising because you think you need to do so. Additionally, marketing plans are important for:
- taking stock of current and future resources
- understanding market opportunities, threats and competitor positions
- defining what your marketing efforts consist of
- creating goals with which to judge campaigns against
- establishing accountability within the organization
- keeping the business on course throughout the year
9. Are you evaluating whether your business is delivering on what its promising consumers and meeting their expectations?
Customer satisfaction surveys, positive public-facing reviews, and repeat business are all critical factors in getting a general evaluation of whether you’re meeting expectations with your consumers. You really need to, however, look at all facets of your marketing and develop contextual metrics. For example, high bounce rates and short session durations on your website indicate that its not meeting expectations. Similarly, low email open and click rates indicate you aren’t delivering messaging and content relevant to your audience. Evaluate each of your major marketing channels in this way.
10. Are your marketing efforts reaching their goals?
Achieving goals starts with setting them up the right way. If your goals aren’t SMART, it’s likely that you’ll never achieve them. SMART stands for: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Specific – are your goals specific in that they have a narrow focus? Measurable – are your goals measurable with the tools, personnel, software etc.? Attainable – are they attainable by having rational expectations and realistic ways to get there? Relevant – are they relevant in pertaining to the facets of your marketing that will make the greatest impact? Timely – are they timely in that they have a definite time frame with which to implement and execute?
At Unique Minds Consulting, LLC, we have extensive experience with understanding the current state of your marketing and developing it into the powerful tool it should be to drive results that will increase profitability and achieve greater efficiency. To schedule a free consultation of your overall marketing or any specific channel, please schedule an appointment here or call us at (207) 303-5634. You can ask questions at our Facebook group – Small Business Advice from Unique Minds Consulting – or visit our website to check out our services and chat with someone regarding any questions that you have.
Written by Austin Bayley, owner of Unique Minds Consulting, LLC. It is a local small business marketing agency located in Scarborough, Maine committed to offering novel solutions through creative strategy that create competitive barriers. We do this through extensive analysis, methodical implementation, continual refinement, and effective optimization.