How to Use Different Types of Content When Marketing Your Small Business (Infographic)

How to Use Different Types of Content When Marketing Your Small Business (Infographic)

Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the past 6 years, you’ve probably heard about using content marketing to promote your small business.

Even as a solopreneur, content marketing works to bolster brand awareness, build your reputation, attract customers, and keep your website fresh.

However, with all the noise online, content marketing has gotten harder. Back in 2013, there were around 92,000 new articles posted on the internet every day.  Today, there are more brands than ever creating content.

How can your small business compete? By being smart about the different types of content you use.

Your Goals Should Drive the Types of Content You Use

Content has the ability to educate, entertain, inspire, and convince.  And, as the infographic from Smart Insight below shows, some types of content are suited for specific purposes.

To increase your chances of achieving your desired results, using the right type of content can make a real difference. For example, if you’re trying to:

  • Attract attention, entertaining types of content like quizzes, contests and viral videos work best.
  • Inform, use content like ebooks, guides, and infographics to educate your customers.
  • Build trust, use inspiring content like celebrity endorsements, reviews, and community forums.
  • Convert,  then content like demos, case studies, and calculators do the trick.

This is not to say that you can’t use entertaining content to convince or inspiring content to entertain, but playing to the strengths of each type of content can impact your results. Therefore, the best use of this infographic is for planning your content campaigns so they’ll be as effective as possible.

Content Marketing Tips

Want to learn more about content marketing? Here are some handy links:

Content Marketing Tools

Looking for useful content marketing tools to make your more efficient? Here are two links that should help:

 

How to Use Different Types of Content When Marketing Your Small Business (Infographic)

Source: Smart Insights

Creating Content Photo via Shutterstock

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What is an Integrated Marketing Campaign?

What is an Integrated Marketing Campaign?

The first part of this series discussed the basics of integrated marketing and how the method blends traditional techniques with digital parts. The previous article looked at how this modern tool combined the elements of more conventional outbound marketing with inbound marketing.

This second installment looks at how to take a step back and watch how these moving parts interact by looking at a few hypothetical campaigns that bridge the gap between cyberspace, print, radio and television.

Integrated Marketing Campaign Example

Some of the best integrated marketing campaigns encourage customers to support local small businesses. For example, an event promoting small retailers in a place like Pennsylvania could start with a hashtag like #ShopPenn as the fulcrum of the campaign.

YouTube Videos

That twitter hashtag might point to some YouTube videos about specific local businesses in the Pennsylvania area and perhaps even a live event to be held in a public location where shop owners can distribute pamphlets and flyers, all through one centrally organized campaign.

The Sagefrog Marketing Group has long been leaders in the integrated marketing space. Their 2017 B2B Marketing Mix Report highlights the need to use this integrated technique to engage both younger and older demographics.

The survey notes:

  • 55 percent of businesses don’t have a formal marketing plan.
  • The top lead sources have email marketing, social media marketing, public relations and trade show events all sharing space as big drivers for success.
  • Online marketing and trade shows and events have excellent ROI.

Mark Schmukler, CEO and Co-founder of Sagefrog Marketing Group, sees the parts of these campaigns as interrelated and the focus continually shifting.

Pendulum

“I think the whole thing is a pendulum really,” he tells Small Business Trends. “When digital first came along it was so innovative and powerful people thought all the old channels were dead.” He goes on to say that while digital routes are great for measuring ROI, people are looking to drive revenue too and that’s where these more traditional tools come in.

There are more than a few examples that prove Schmukler’s point. Narrowing the focus helps to get the message out across different channels to your target market. Not everyone needs to be on Facebook or Pinterest. Deciding what’s right for your business and target market is critical.

Therefore, it stands to reason a good marketing communications mix might have several elements like:

  • A press release.
  • Product giveaways on social media that tie in with a series of limited coupons.
  • A website that’s updated with new offers.
  • Demos and events where your product or service gets demonstrated.

Here’s another example of a campaign that would have your goods and services flying off the shelves.

Selling Refurbished Computers?

Let’s say you’ve got a small business selling refurbished computers — a nice example that combines digital uses with a physical product. A website would need to be a part of any integrated marketing campaign and it’s a good idea to offer some kind of break on shipping so you can compete with the bigger players in the online space.

A good old-fashioned press release might highlight the fact that you’re going to give a free seminar on the best practices to use in the cloud. Having your logo strategically placed on charging booths at the local computer show makes sure you’re covering all the bases.

Advertising box

The last word here goes to the experts. Schmukler is clear you shouldn’t assume  your small business will get to where it needs to go without thinking outside the traditional advertising box.

“I think there are opportunities for even traditional brick and mortar businesses to look at online revenue streams,” he adds. “What’s hot now is paid social media where I can sponsor a post on your timeline.”

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Small Businesses Learn from IKEA: Build a Complementing Side Business

Why You Should Have a Side Business

When it comes to securing your business’ future and increasing its profitability, diversifying your business is key. Diversifying essentially means to vary your business’ range of products or field of operation — a strategy that small businesses can learn a thing or two about from IKEA.

Why You Should Have a Side Business

Lessons for Diversifying Your Business Portfolio

IKEA, a multinational furniture retailer headquartered in the Netherlands, recently revealed it is considering opening a chain of standalone restaurants.

The furniture retailer that designs and sells ready-to-assemble furniture, kitchen appliances and home accessories, has always had restaurants in its stores since the 1950’s when it launched. The restaurants serve bargain meals and snacks, a carefully crafted diversification and customer acquisition strategy that helps to lure in customers for more furniture sales.

“We’ve always called the meatballs [sold in restaurants within their stores] ‘the best sofa-seller,’” Gerd Diewald, who oversees IKEA’s food programs in the U.S., told Fast Company.

“It’s hard to do business with hungry customers,” Diewald added. “When you feed them, they stay longer, they can talk” about that wardrobe, sofa or bed and make a decision to buy there and then.

IKEA Food and Restaurant Business

IKEA reportedly serves some 650 million diners a year, across 48 countries around the world. Of these diners, 30 percent visit IKEA just to eat.

Annual food sales for IKEA added up to around $1.8 billion in 2016 and about $1.5 billion in 2013. While these sales figures pale in comparison with IKEA’s main home-goods business’ revenue, which topped $36.5 billion last year, the company welcomes the additional revenue generator.

The retail chain’s executives say they plan to expand IKEA’s food business further and have standalone restaurants dot cities around the world in coming years. Already IKEA has opened temporary standalone restaurants in Paris, London and Oslo.

If you are a small business looking for ways to increase revenue, you might want to follow IKEA’s lead and develop a complementing side business hustle. For a small café, that might entail expanding your offering to include meals or baked foods. For a small restaurant operation with a specialty item like ice cream, it might mean starting to sell your own brand of ice cream retail.

The results of your side hustle and the extra revenue generated can open up new avenues for growth.

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What Is Integrated Marketing?

What Is Integrated Marketing?

At first glance, the statistics seem like they’re at odds with each other — as though someone had mixed some generational marketing numbers up and accidentally placed ones that spoke to Boomers’ shopping preferences beside stats for the Millennials.

Consider the chart from The NPD Group that states 81 percent of Millennials’ retail purchases take place in a brick and mortar store.  Another statistic from Valassis seems to muddy the waters further. It states that 51 percent of respondents between the ages of 18- 34 reported the newspaper was the top source where they spotted deals.

What is Integrated Marketing?

Tech Savvy Generation

It may seem odd to find out that the most tech savvy of all the generations jumps from digital to traditional when they shop, but the concept is old hat to marketing gurus like Mark Schmukler. In fact, Schmukler and other forward thinkers have long championed a concept called integrated marketing that mimics the preference for something old and something new as a preferred way to market both on and offline. Schmukler started his career in engineering and switched to marketing over thirty years ago, so he understands the nuts and bolts of this specific tool.

“I’ve worked in the older ad agencies which practiced outbound marketing and the new digital agencies which are really inbound,” says the CEO and Co-founder of Sagefrog Marketing Group. “We have always believed in optimizing across all available channels.”

Smart Philosophy

It’s a smart philosophy and one that works perfectly with the definition of integrated marketing as a method that combines outbound traditional marketing with inbound marketing. It’s a bridge between older styles where ads on television, print, radio and flyers and brochures got a message out to potential customers. Inbound marketing is primarily digital and designed to draw clients in.

The Inbound version took hold with the introduction of search engines generally and Google specifically in 1998. HubSpot was one of the companies that helped to define inbound marketing in the new digital age.

Those Twitter hashtags that appear during commercials are one common example. They entice people watching television to interact and engage with the brand online.  Most recently, big names like Porsche have used pop-up events at football games and geo-targeted mobile friendly content to let people know these events are coming up and get them sharing the message.

Pendulum Swings

Schmukler is quick to point out there have been a few trends over the years as the pendulum swings back and forth between the marketing techniques.

“What happened was the trend went from traditional to digital and now I see it starting to cycle back. The common thread is about optimizing across all channels. It’s not an either or world.”

For small businesses that listen to the integrated marketing gospel preached by people like Schmukler, the payoffs of integrating inbound and outbound techniques can be large. Core Solutions is an EHR provider that used Integrated Marketing to triple its traffic in less than five months and increase leads by more than 700 percent in only one year.

Good Measure

They did this by combining content marketing with email marketing and social media with measures of more traditional public relations added in for good measure.

Still, there are some things that don’t change when small business is looking to mesh the marketing types together into these integrated platforms. One is the desire to find the best leads and Schmukler has some advice for small businesses on one of the best foundations to start out with.

“You find the highest quality, highest value leads with live venues, tradeshows, networking and conferences in your industry. Digital marketing is good for getting quantity leads and live venues are good for quality,” he says.  “If you’re looking for high value client leads, the live venues are where you’re going to get the most bang for your buck.”

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10 Tips for Creating a Luxury Brand in a New Market

Luxury Branding Tips for New Markets

Finding a place for a product or service in an already established marketplace can be hard enough. If you add the extra elements of trying to blaze a trail for a luxury brand in a new market that’s just opening up, you need to take extra care each arrow in your business quiver is sharp.

That’s certainly the case for the emerging luxury marijuana space. It’s being spurred on  by the fact more and more states are legalizing medical and in some cases recreational marijuana.

David Moritz is the Chief Marketing Officer for Toast, a luxury cannabis brand that’s trying to stake a claim in that fledgling high end niche. He offered ten tips for small businesses looking to take the entrepreneurial road less traveled: luxury branding.

Luxury Branding Tips for New Markets

What’s in a Name? Everything.

When you’re trying to establish your product in a new arena that’s not been tested it’s important to grab what Moritz calls the high ground first. Choosing a name is one of the first ways to do that. When you’re entering a market where there’s little or no history, there’s a lot more flexibility in the name you choose. Names should be both representative of what you’re selling and resonate with the experience you want your clients to have. In other words, get creative because you won’t have a lot of competition at first so you can take a little extra time to get this right.

For example, Toast speaks to the pillars of style and luxury the company wants to portray.

Identity Is Essential

The name and identity go hand in hand. For a luxury item, the identity needs to be crafted carefully so that it appeals to the specific target market you’re after. The tone needs to be sophisticated and even the logo needs to support the refined name that you choose to start the process off with. Giving a sense of heritage is another essential ingredient for identity.

Cues are Critical

Luxury brands obviously deliver more to a higher customer standard whether they are entering a new market or not. Part of that client expectation is summed up in the cues they look for.

“For example, there are certain finishes inside a luxury car that alert people this is a high end brand,” Moritz says. While you need these cues in for a new luxury market, finding a way to set these benchmarks is different because there are no previous examples.

Find Similarities

Small business looking to build these markers in a new industry needs to take a page from the kinds of emotional cues that work for established industries and make them their own.  Toast™ looked at the way alcohol advertising implied drinking in moderation could enhance and elevate any social event and morphed it to include marijuana.

“The whole nature of any luxury business is in the ability to hit people in an emotional place,” Moritz says adding to make that work you need to incorporate elements from other places to start.

“Then you can invent your own innovations from there.”

Think About Positioning

Because you might not have competition in you own industry, you’ll need to position your new product in relation to other products in similar industries.  It’s the same kind of process used for emotional cues. For a high end product, you can advertise with personas similar to ones used with other luxury items. Refined and elegant people are the best bet.

Use Technology to its Fullest

Although you want to be sure to take your luxury brand and firmly place it on that shelf that sets it apart, you cant ignore how important social media is to getting the word out to your target market.

Moritz understands how this digital juggernaut is gaining in importance for luxury brands in new markets.

“As the algorithms improve and the advertising becomes more accurate and geared towards people’s interests, this is only going to increase,” he says.

Imagine the Competition

You likely won’t have any competition when you first position your luxury brand in a new market. Here you’ll need to play a little imaginary chess with a competing company to make your moves based on what you think a competitor might do.

“You can imagine those other brands but you need to take a specific approach,” Moritz says.

Get Perspective

Through all the other work you do to create a luxury brand in a new market you need to keep in mind you should be fostering a high end experience in all your communications. For example, with the high end cannabis industry, laboratory testing is a given that doesn’t need to be stressed in marketing materials.

Think About Regulators

Your new luxury market won’t be new forever. Just like imagined competitors you need to think about how government and other regulators will affect your business. How you market and to who might need to be adjusted.

Provide an Experience

More than just the product itself, a luxury brand in a new market needs to provide a complete experience.

“The more that you can bridge the gap between newness and innovation to expectation and familiarity, the easier time you’ll have launching your product,” Moritz says.

Image: We Toast/Instagram

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The Role of CSR in Marketing and Branding

CSR Marketing: The Role of CSR in Branding

What do you think about when you hear the term corporate social responsibility (CSR)? There’s a lot of noise around this business opportunity, but a lot of business owners either view it as a passing fad or an unnecessary external pressure. However, the truth is that it’s very important to the overall health of your organization – especially from a marketing and branding perspective.

CSR Marketing

The Link Between CSR and Brand Equity

When you bring up the idea of CSR in a room full of business executives, you’re bound to get a variety of responses. Some will reveal that they actually know very little about it, while others will go on a spiel about all of the wonderful things their company is doing to better society. You’ll also have those who are skeptical about the return on investment in CSR.

By one definition, “Corporate Social Responsibility is an ethical management concept where companies aim to integrate social, economic and environmental concerns along with the consideration of human rights into their business operations.”

This definition is particularly relevant because it touches on just how far-reaching a CSR program can be. It’s not just about partnering with an NPO or sponsoring a local charity. It’s about creating tangible change – socially, economically, and environmentally.

While the underlying purpose of CSR is to advance a specific cause that benefits society, don’t be fooled into thinking that it can’t also have a positive impact on your own company. A strategically developed, properly implemented CSR program can directly enhance a brand’s ability to create and maintain a positive image in the consumer marketplace.

Don’t feel bad if you have profits on your mind whenever you approach the subject of CSR – you aren’t alone. “One of the main reasons companies engage in socially responsible behavior is the possible financial gain that can come from it,” management expert Timothy Creel explains. “Recent studies show that companies engaging in socially responsible behavior tend to show long-term financial gains and increases in value.”

CSR is very much a long-term play, however. Companies tend to show financial losses in the first three years. It isn’t until 36 or 48 months down the road that benefits begin to kick in. But when they do, the impact can be instrumental in terms of marketing and branding.

The reason why CSR builds brand equity is largely psychological. As Creel notes, “Positive feelings are related to social approval and self-respect. Brands that evoke positive feelings make customers feel better about themselves.” Remember that most purchases aren’t about satisfying a need. Sure, there are instances where customers need products to survive, but most purchases are rooted in wants. When a company is able to tie a purchase that is otherwise seen as non-essential to something larger than the product, customers have an easier time validating the purchase in their minds.

Another branding-related benefit of CSR is the sense of community it creates. Creel points to how Lowe’s donates materials and provides volunteer hours to Habitat for Humanity, which allows the company to form connections in local communities. These connections fuel the brand’s image and result in better connectivity.

Ultimately, a commitment to serving others has an impact on sales. According to a survey from Better Business Journey, 88 percent of customers say they’re more likely to buy from a company that supports and engages in activities that improve society.

Three Companies Getting CSR Right

Lowe’s was already mentioned, but what other companies are getting CSR right?

1. Kitchen Cabinet Kings

Environmental sustainability is a big focus right now and Kitchen Cabinet Kings is doing a phenomenal job of positioning its brand for the future by aligning the company’s sales with the Plant a Tree Campaign. For every full kitchen purchased, the company plants a tree in one of the 155 National Forests in the United States.

“We think a tree planting is a great way to thank you for your business while giving back to our planet,” the company explains. “Our hope is that as this tree grows, so does our relationship.”

It might seem like a small thing, but when it comes to choosing between Kitchen Cabinet Kings and a competitor, something as simple as supporting sustainability can make a big difference.

2. Kroger

The popular supermarket chain Kroger has long been involved with CSR programs. As the company explains, “We have built a strong foundation based upon the commitment of our associates to serve each and every customer every day, and our promise to be good stewards of our communities and our planet. We know that trust is earned and we never take for granted the trust and confidence of our associates, customers, suppliers, communities and other stakeholders.”

Specifically, Kroger partners with companies and groups that fight world hunger, support women’s health, and provide for military members and their families. They also have initiatives in place that relate to the environment, supply chain, and local economies.

3. Delta Airlines

In an industry where companies are often blasted by frustrated customers, Delta seems to be doing something right on the CSR front. The focus of Delta’s CSR programs, which center on reducing carbon emissions and encouraging environmental sustainability, is on improving transparency.

Delta also asks a lot of its employees, who are heavily involved in Delta Force for Global Good. The fact that Delta employees are also committed to the company’s CSR goals is something that appeals to many customers.

Give Your Brand a Boost With CSR

The benefits of CSR are plentiful. While a CSR program should have a positive influence on the people, groups, or communities that are directly affected by the actions, it’s also becoming abundantly clear that CSR is a strong marketing and branding play.

If your brand is looking for a boost, CSR may be the answer.

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New Business Shows Power of Having a Really Specific Target Market (Watch)

When starting a business, it’s important to have a specific target market in mind. Some businesses target large groups like millennials or women. But others get even more specific.

The Value of a Specific Target Market

Take the case of ExpressionMed. The company, founded by 19-year-old Meghan Sharkus, makes only one type of product — colorful stickers that hold insulin delivery devices in place. The market for this product is small but clear. She’s aiming to help kids with diabetes change the perception around the disease.

Right now, Sharkus makes all of the stickers by hand. But she recently started a Kickstarter campaign in order to get started with machine manufacturing.

So even though her business only offers one type of product targeted at a very specific group of people, it’s doing well enough for her to consider expanding. And since about 29 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, many of them kids, there’s still a sizeable market for her products.

Other businesses can potentially learn a thing or two from Sharkus. Even though she’s young, she was able to create a product with a very clear purpose and market it to a very specific audience. Whether you sell one product or a hundred, that’s an essential building block of any successful business.

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5 Great Tips on Successful Small Business Branding

5 Small Business Branding Tips

We all understand how important brands can be.  There are brands that signify all over the world.  Nike.  Harley Davidson.  Starbucks.  These are companies that are more than just the products they sell.  They’re lifestyles.  They’re statements, both about the company and the consumers who choose them.

If you think bold, memorable branding is only available to big companies with massive marketing budgets, think again!  No matter your industry, you can cultivate a unique brand that resonates with your clients.  Want to know how to do it?

Small Business Branding Tips

1. Clarify Your Company’s Purpose

For a brand to be meaningful, it must connect to your company’s reason for being (which, incidentally, assumes you have a reason for being above and beyond simply earning an income.)  Why did you start your company?  How do you think you’re making the world a better place?  Without a firm grasp of your purpose, you’ll never be able to communicate what’s unique and important about your company.

2. Enlist Your Employees

Along with clarifying your purpose, you must also ensure that every single member of your staff understands that purpose and knows how and why to communicate that purpose with every customer.  In a perfect world, your purpose isn’t something that’s pounded into your staff.  It’s something you hire for.  When you hire an employee who shares your values, then you’re on the right track.  Effective branding isn’t an afterthought.  It infuses everything you do!

3. Create a Rallying Cry

So for my company, Profit First, our purpose, our rallying cry is “We want to eradicate entrepreneurial poverty!”  We say it, and we mean it.  Every morning huddle (our quickie standing meeting) reiterates our purpose and the steps we’re going to take that day to accomplish it.  Our rallying cry lets us communicate our purpose and values quickly … to anyone and everyone.  That’s our brand.

4. Enlist Your Customers

You know your purpose.  Your staff knows your purpose.  But do your customers know your purpose?  Letting your clients know that they’re buying more than just your goods or services is key to enlisting them in your brand building efforts.  Consider the Life is Good brand.  When people don a t-shirt, they’re making a statement about a lifestyle, rather than just getting dressed.  Folding in what makes you unique and worthwhile is a big part of successful branding.

5. Hire a Pro

Sometimes we think we should be able to do it all, but no matter how talented you are, you need help in the areas that aren’t your strength.  If marketing isn’t your thing, consider hiring a consultant or agency to help you crystallize and evangelize your brand.  Professionals can help you avoid spinning your wheels and wasting money on ineffective tactics.

Your brand is more than just your company name and a slogan.  It’s the expression of your values, your quality, and your unique vision.  Branding done right cements you in the minds of your customers.  It makes it easy for people to understand who you are and what you do.  Branding differentiates you from your competitors, and it speaks to your ideal customer, resonating with the people who will most appreciate your work.

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10 Digital Advertising Trends Important to Small Business

10 Digital Advertising Trends Important to Small Business

We are now nearing the end of Q1 for 2017, and it’s safe to say that numerous advancements have occurred within the digital media world, both good and bad. The accelerated prominence of video has continued, and the mobile phone is still continuing to dominate our lives.

Anyway, it’s a new year which means we can start to develop new digital marketing strategies to propel brands forward in the coming months.

Below are the top 10 trends that will define this year in digital marketing, according to Sean Mulrooney, CEO of NW3 Media:

Digital Advertising Trends

Mobile

Last year was a big one for mobile, and there’s no doubt that we will see the same in 2017. In fact, Zenith predicts that in 2017, mobile advertising will finally reach the critical inflection point and surpass that of desktop.

The prevalence of handheld devices and the fact that desktop traffic is passing into oblivion clearly indicates that mobile is, in fact, the future. If you are not catering your content, ads, and website towards mobile users, then you are missing out on a massive opportunity. Don’t make a few technical tweaks here and there, but honestly examine your online experience to ensure that it’s integrated with a user’s lifestyle that is “on-the-go.”

Native

Business Insider reports that spending on native advertising reached $7.9 billion in 2016, with projections skyrocketing to $21 billion in 2018, and expected to expand across numerous platforms. Digital savvy consumers are now wary of extremely overt advertising, and the increased ability to skip ads or remove banners on browsers means that a more integrated ad experience is more likely to reach its target audience. If it’s done well, native advertising is unobtrusive and seamlessly integrated into the regular content on a platform, providing value to the audience in addition to reaching them with your advertising.

Video

If you’ve checked in on any of the popular social media sites lately, you’ll notice that most are dominated by video content. Facebook Live, Snapchat stories, not to mention the already ubiquitous videos shared on Twitter and Youtube. (Video is quickly on its way to becoming the king of content.) Fail to incorporate video content in your advertising, and you may be left in the dust.

The trend goes hand in hand with the growth of mobile. Invodo reports that video viewership on mobile surpassed that of desktop since Q4 of 2015. What makes YouTube such an advertising powerhouse is its ability to reach the Millennial audience, with YouTube reaching more 18-49 years olds during primetime than the top 10 TV shows combined.

Interactive Content

Remember those classic magazine quizzes like “What Lipstick Color Are You” or “What Superhero Are You Most Like?” They are here in the digital space too, and they can also be leveraged for their advertising potential.

Content that users interact with leaves a greater impression than those they only read. It takes the audience from a passive to an active role. Interactive content in ads or on the advertiser’s site, from quizzes, polls and infographics is essential in an age when mere visual and written ads are likely to be lost in a sea of content.

Personalized Content

Consumers are now constantly bombarded with ads every day. This dilutes the effect of most advertising campaigns. Yankelovich President Jay Walker-Smith says the average user is now exposed to over 5,000 ads per day, making it difficult to capture the attention of a distracted audience.

In order to cut through the clog, advertisers must hone in on exactly what specific consumers care about — in other words, personalize the ad experience. Fortunately, with increasing data and the ability to track consumer habits, interests and activity, advertisers have the capacity to segment ads to target specific types of users. While it may mean a bit more work initially, the benefits are certainly worth it.

Influencers

Influencers are like word of mouth on steroids. Few tactics are more effective in the digital advertising age than having a well-followed influencer touting your product. Trust is built in, and reach is instant across multiple platforms.

Influencer advertising is on the rise because people tend to trust recommendations from their favorite social media personality much more than any traditional campaign telling them a product is great. Influencers have a vested interest in maintaining a halo of honesty, which then transfers to their recommendations. With the right influencer partners, advertisers can build rapid followings in little time.

The familiar channels of Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Twitter are of course the prime targets. But also consider niche forums such as Reddit. You can even target B2B industry influencers who blog.

Chatbots

Chatbots have come a long way since the days of Microsoft Clippy.

Google’s Allo was launched in September 2016 and hailed as “the most significant chatbot messaging platform ever” with its ability to read and interpret messages, while recommending appropriate responses in turn. Advertisers quickly jumped on the trend, providing the ease of hands-free, voice-activated and concierge-like service right in the consumer’s home.

Chatbots allow for real-time, 24-hour engagement with customers. AIs provide a personalized experience for customers, without the actual need for a person for every customer. A personal sales associate for anyone that wants to chat is the type of positive consumer experience of many companies’ fever dreams; chatbots are making that happen, with AI and big data providing update and market strategy in real-time that will improve the advertising potential the more chatbots are used.

Live Video

Live video is the new “it girl” to the scene, made evident by Snapchat’s meteoric rise. When Facebook announced Live, the company was so confident in the potential of this content distribution channel that it made multi-million dollar deals with publishers like Buzzfeed to keep the content coming in. The deal is working out wonderfully for all parties. Facebook reported that users watched live videos three times longer that those that weren’t live.

Following in the tradition of vlogs and popular reaction videos, the content is more spontaneous, more intimate and able to visually and emotionally reach viewers immediately, creating a more impactful experience that advertisers continually strive for.

Data, Data, Data!

It’s no longer viable to invest in advertising and content if you don’t pay attention to the data and metrics that go with it. Not only can it be used to determine the success or failure of a campaign, but it also gives valuable insight into the minds of customers. This can help advertisers continually perfect and correct what they are putting out.

Every major platform — from email to Facebook, Google and Instagram — provides metrics and data to advertisers. More content interaction means more ways to source data, and cloud storage and machine learning provide a more accurate and faster way to process this data than ever before. Ignore these assets, and your ads will be left in the dust.

Ad Blocking

More than 400 million mobile web users and 200 million desktop web users are using ad-blocking technology to restrict the banner ads displayed on their devices. However, marketers should stop worrying about it. Yes, you read right, stop worrying about it. It’s a reality, and as frustrating as it is, ad blocking is here to stay. There will be a constant cat and mouse game between advertisers and platforms against developers of ad blockers.

It is better for advertisers to focus their energy on diversifying their media and seeking outlets like native advertising and useful content embedded with advertising that circumvents ad blockers. Traditional online advertising is not well received by consumers, blocked or not, so advertisers should focus on creating content consumers want to see, rather than content they consider to be a nuisance.

Final Thoughts

Growing your business isn’t easy, is it? Increasing your influence and earning more customers is a challenge every company deals with. The key to your marketing success is staying on top of the trends. The last thing that you want is to be left behind. Pay close attention to the development of the trends listed in this article, and you will stay ahead of your competition.

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This article, “10 Digital Advertising Trends Important to Small Business” was first published on Small Business Trends

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5 Small Business Marketing Schemes That Will Waste Your Money

5 Small Business Marketing Schemes That Waste Money

Marketing is no easy task. Whole businesses exist devoted to marketing other businesses. Some companies have their own marketing departments. Small businesses often rely on the DIY approach to marketing. When developing your own marketing strategy, take care to avoid wasting your time and money.

Marketing Schemes That Waste Money

Mistake 1: Too Many Social Channels

Judging by some of the marketing advice you’ll come across on the web, you may think you need to be everywhere, all the time.

What a colossal waste.

When it comes to marketing via social networks, the most important thing is for you to be where your target audience is already spending their time. Do your customers spend lots of time on Instagram? Then don’t waste your time Tweeting.

Focus your marketing and engagement efforts on Instagram. This frees up your time to engage directly with your customers even more on their favorite channels. You can find out which social networks your customers prefer by simply asking, or by using a CRM with social media integration built in.

Mistake 2: Creating New Content

You’ve heard you need fresh content all the time. New blog post every day, right? Nope.

Your customers want a relationship with your business. They want to know you value them. They don’t want to get buried in your posts. Trying to create new content about your business or related to your business gets old fast — for you and your customers.

Try a better approach. Use some of your marketing budget to hire a content developer to create high quality content optimized for your business. Remember quality over quantity.

An interesting, professionally crafted infographic will get you much more customer engagement than a rambling post on your biz blog about industry minutiae.

Sharing content is important for engagement and variety. Choose carefully. Share only things that your audience will find value in. Save those 50 cat memes for your personal accounts.

Mistake 3: Casting a Wide Net

Your marketing efforts will work better if you target your audience effectively. Casting a wide net may seem like a simpler method, especially for DIYers, but you’ll end up wasting time and money marketing to the wrong people in the wrong places.

Ask current customers where they spend time online, what encourages them to make a purchase, and how they found you.

Create a Buyer Persona, this is a sort of bio of your ideal customer. Use the persona and any data you collect from customers to identify where best to apply your marketing efforts.

Mistake 4: Influencer Marketing

Everywhere you look, someone is advising you to find influencers to promote your business. This trend in marketing is taking off.

First, decide whether it’s right for your business. If you’re in an obscure industry or create products for a small niche market, influencers are probably not going to be much help to you.

If you decide this is the right path for you, be sure you have compelling things for an influencer to share about you in the first place. An interesting narrative can make all the difference. It’s imperative you identify key influencers in your industry with whom to build relationships.

Avoid wasting your time and money on a low impact influencer or one in the wrong industry.

Mistake 5: Video Marketing

Before you shell out beaucoup bucks hiring a video production company to create the perfect marketing video, consider a few important things. Chances are very good that your customers are watching video online, but where?

It’s important to know what platform your videos would be viewed on before you create one. Marketing videos on Instagram will be consumed a bit differently than on Facebook, for example. What kind of value will video give your customers?

A boring product demo is probably not going to inspire much engagement. A sneak peek of a new product that leaves some features to the imagination can be exciting. Video that makes an emotional impact inspires engagement well.

Before hitching your wagon to a new marketing technique, be sure it’s right for your business. It must be a way to provide your customers something of value. It must be shared where they are most likely to engage. Develop a detailed strategy with clear goals. Always measure your results, so you can make adjustments as necessary.

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This article, “5 Small Business Marketing Schemes That Will Waste Your Money” was first published on Small Business Trends

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