The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you can see."
The Great Recession of 2008 made businesses better, according to a study by Forbes Insights and the Association of Certified Public Accountants.
It made them more in control and nimble enough to expand and contract resources in order to meet demand.
But that was a decade ago (although the hangover hung around for many years after). However, this is one time that a hangover may be a good thing.
Because small businesses represent more than half of private sector jobs and 54 percent of all sales in the United States. They need to be smart, strong, nimble, and vibrant.
Here are my humble predictions for how you can achieve small business marketing success in 2018.
Capture The Attention of Your Market With Mobile Video
Every social media platform out there has the ability to both share / embed video and create live video:
Your prospects have shorter attention spans than ever and are pulled in many directions. You need to master small screen video to just stay top of mind with your prospects.
This doesn't mean you have to spend big bucks on producing slick video ads.
On the contrary, you have to get good at being real. Showing "behind the scenes." Letting your prospects and customers see you and get to know, like, and trust you as let your hair down and share a tip, an insight, or a little bit of your life.
(Just don't hog the squat rack at the gym while you record 15 takes of your "motivational Monday.")
According to a study from eMarketer, YouTube will remain the video king with an expected 1.58 billion people using it at least once per month to consume video, which represents a 9.2% increase over 2018.
Facebook Will Become Too Expensive For You
Mark Zuckerberg knows his baby got too messy and noisy and cluttered with ads so they are looking to make Facebook better, as any business owner would.
But better for whom?
According to the New York Times, "publishers and brands are the losers."
Adam Mosseri, head of Facebook's News Feed team admitted as much on their company blog.
As users of Facebook who want to actually stay in touch and keep up with friends and family, that's a good thing.
But as Facebook intentionally reduces their inventory you'll spend more money to get the same exposure.
So you better learn how to do Facebook advertising correctly.
Heck, while you're at it, you better learn the other 6 traffic sources that really matter...
The reality is growing a business is tough.
It's even tougher when you're applying "me too" marketing, which turns into desperation.
Like my dad always says...
If you think you're desperate, you are."
So don't be desperate.
Analyze the market, the opportunity, the cost and decide to do Facebook marketing right or another medium that you can master.
It doesn't pay to be second place and remember that the medium is not the message.
Find your voice then deliver a powerful message in a powerful manner.
That's how you win in sales and marketing yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
You'll Remain Torn About Digital Marketing (And This Indecision Will Hurt Your Growth)
Under the category of "digital marketing success"
- 46% do not know if their marketing strategies are working
- 17% know their strategies aren't working
- While 21.4% admit they can't find the time to properly market their business!
When it comes to social media marketing, the conflict and indecision is even more pronounced:
- 71% plan to use social media content to acquire customers (Infusionsoft survey)
- 65% of SMBs consider social media advertising effective (Statistica)
- Most small businesses (according to my own experience) confuse social media marketing with social media advertising.
- I predict companies will start to figure out the difference because you'll be forced to learn the difference because you'll get tired of wasting time and money by dabbling in both, which is unproductive.
- 75% will include Facebook in their social media strategy (even as it gets more expensive) (Infusionsoft survey)
- Meanwhile, 60% of small business owners cannot track your ROI from your social media activities (HubSpot)
See the problem here?
Struggling small business owners hate sales and marketing. (Hint: That's why you're struggling and it's why most small businesses fail. Wanna fix that?)
Thriving small business owners understand that their #1 job as a business owner is to market your business.
Today that means you need to get clear on the role digital marketing will play in your growth.
What encompasses digital marketing today?
- Social media marketing—the sharing and communicating part, not the paid part, which is...
- PPC / SEM
- When you boost a post or run an ad on Facebook, that is NOT social media marketing. That is Pay Per Click advertising, which is similar to...
- Search Engine Marketing: generating traffic by paying for search listings
- SEO—Search Engine Optimization
- Related SEO Posts:
- SEO is the opposite of SEM
- SEM is paying for an ad to entice someone to click so they can be taken to your website, blog, landing page, etc.
- SEO is creating organic content that ranks high in the search results and creates traffic "for free." (Minus your time and effort to create the content the expense to host and maintain the site.) Which brings us to...
- Content Marketing: Content is Still King, and includes
- Images / Infographics
- Social media marketing
- The written word via blog posts and even email
- The trend now is quality over quantity. As humans it was always this way but early search engine algorithms rewarded frequent content creators, which lead to thin but rapid content being produced, which finally lead to Content Shock, which can be a good thing or a bad thing.
- If you are ahead in the content game you can experiment with posting less-often but provide more value in your content.
- Long-form posts of 1,500 to 2,000 words are performing well
- As search engines get smarter you can rely less on longtail keywords since the search engines are starting to understand your intention. So focus more on "mid-range" keywords and feel free to sprinkle in variations of the phrase about which you are writing, and you'll do fine. (Follow Brian Dean of Backlinko for more great advice on SEO.)
- If you are late to the content game, you need to start with a competitive analysis to see how you can beat your stronger competitors at their own game and create your own content shock. But it will not be fast, easy, or cheap...unless you are smart, creative, and persistent. Need some help?
Choosing not to decide is still a choice. It's just a bad one.
Nibbling around the edges or doing 12 different things 50% of the way is the recipe for failure.
You need to pick a digital marketing path and commit to it.
Your Customers Will Remain Humans
Since I started The Sales Whisperer® in 2006 people have asked me if I serve a particular niche or vertical. My answer has always been...
I help humans sell to humans."
As artificial intelligence and bots flood the digital marketing landscape, your prospects will be more (pleasantly) surprised when they hear from a real human at your company.
It's easy to say
Zig when they zag."
but it's harder to do it.
By all means leverage technology, but be smart about it.
Your prospects, i.e. the actual carbon-based homo sapiens who want to buy from you, crave two things:
What are you doing to create memorable experiences for your prospects and customers?
What are you doing to make them feel as though what they are getting from you is exclusive? Special? Unique?
You don't have to send them a new car to feel appreciated. Try...
- Sending a hand-written thank you note. (Yes, actual snail mail. I know. I'm old school.)
- Send a custom welcome video via email.
- Connect with them on social media and say hello, retweet a Tweet, or comment on their Instagram or LinkedIn post.
- Text them a thank you. (No. They won't abuse your cell phone. Sure, you may get some calls and/or texts from some needy customers, but it'll help you stand out by providing better service.)
- Send an anniversary message to them such as "Hey, it's been six months / one year since you bought from us. Thank you for being our customer. How is everything going?"
A little bit of automation can go a long way.
So can a little bit of a human touch.
Market like you mean it.
Now go sell something.