The last quarter of the calendar year has its own vibe, whether your business counts on holiday shopping to boost revenues, or whether it slows as the year winds down, it’s time to launch your 2017 marketing efforts. Now is an excellent time to re-evaluate your small business marketing strategy and think about what you would like to happen differently next year.
Of course, learning about how to market your business isn’t something that should be confined to a specific time frame, but people naturally look toward the new year as a clean slate, both personally and professionally. Here are some ideas for gearing up your small business marketing for 2017.
Revise Your Small Business Marketing Plan
A strong marketing strategy is key to ensuring your product is seen by your potential customers. A good starting point for doing this is reassessing your market by answering some fundamental questions:
- How large is our actual market?
- How often do people buy the types of products and services we sell?
- What does our market opportunity like for 2017?
Your answers will help you shape your marketing strategy and tactics. When you have done this, it’s time to develop or refine your target market and ideal customer in detail.
Look at characteristics like:
- Income level
- Geographic location
- Education level
- Type of work they do
- How often do they buy
When you have identified your ideal customer, the next step is to determine what leads them to make a purchase. What you’re ultimately trying to do is explain your product or service so that it illustrates value to the customer.
Maybe it makes the morning routine easier, makes their favorite possessions last longer, or makes it easier and cheaper to remain in touch with loved ones. You’re helping the customer envision achieving a goal by answering the question, “What’s in it for me?”
Knowing the competition has never been more important than in today’s global, always-on marketplace. You have to identify what makes you special, different, or better. You should spend time on the website’s of your top three competitors. Use www.spyfu.com to learn what keywords they are highlighting in their copy. Another excellent way to help define your competitive advantage is to ask customers why they chose you. Then, with your small business marketing strategy in place, you’re ready to explore which marketing channels you want to concentrate on in 2017.
Content and Social Media Marketing
Content marketing and social media marketing will be essential framework holding up the small business marketing structure in 2017. Remember, you can build a significant online brand by just focusing on one or two social media sites. You just need to be where your best target customer is spending their time online. And just as you have an overall marketing strategy, you need a content marketing strategy. The start of the new year, might be a great time to start a new type of content such as launching a podcast or Youtube channel. Ideally, you will create an editorial calendar, so that you can develop content well in advance. You also want to look at your Google analytics and note which content got the most views and shares, and make sure you revisit those topics next year. You also want to go over lessons learned, and discuss what worked and what needs fine-tuning.
Some small business owners think that because content marketing is essentially free, it’s not worth devoting time to. But the truth is, the less money you’re prepared to spend on content and social media, the more time you will need to devote for it to be effective.
Whether you focus on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube, there is no substitute for high-quality content. For example, Instagram advertising became huge in 2016, and the importance of imagery to telling your brand story can hardly be overestimated. When it comes to content marketing, quality always wins out over quantity.
Digital Marketing in General in 2017
Over the past decade, traditional marketing media (print, radio, television) have decreased in importance as digital marketing has gained prominence. This is not to say you should abandon the traditional marketing effort that are working for you. But if you have been reluctant to explore digital marketing, there’s no better time to do so than now.
The advertising paradigm hasn’t completely shifted, but it is in the process of shifting, and you don’t want to paint yourself into a corner by clinging to traditional marketing media too tightly. By 2020, 85% of all business communication will be done via social media channels and video communication. Digital advertising is expected to lead in terms of ad revenue worldwide. If you position yourself with this in mind in the meantime, you should be well-served by leveraging digital advertising to promote your business.
Plan For Success
All digital marketing has costs associated with it, in terms of money, or time.
By going into next year with a plan for how to market your business using a strategic blend of digital and non-digital channels, you make the pathway smoother for actually doing the work of marketing.
Content marketing and social media can’t just be an afterthought for your small business anymore. It should be integral to your overall marketing strategy. As you plan your marketing strategy for 2017, I invite you to join my weekly #Smallbizchat on Twitter. They’re great for connecting, monitoring trends, and learning about marketing and other key topics from other business owners.