In today’s world, it’s no secret that online marketing is arguably the most critical part of any business’ growth. After all, we use the term Google like we do Kleenex or Xerox, and it’s hard to imagine how to start, much less grow a business without Google. In spite of how heavily we lean on the internet for how we digest information, for a business to take the next steps into success, it needs to have as many marketing arms as possible and to delve into strategies that have existed since the beginning: Grassroots and Word of Mouth.
Getting a Leg Up
Trust us when we say that the most successful online marketing campaigns are those that have active businesses. There’s a definite difference between a business waiting for those SEO/PPC/Social leads to come in and a business that’s out doing tradeshows or hitting the streets while getting those same SEO/PPC/Social leads. Sure, there are logistical things that may prevent one business from doing the things of another, but the ultimate takeaway is that any online marketing company doesn’t work in a vacuum; it all feeds into itself and a business grows as a result.
Look to your industry specifically. We bet that you can think of a couple other businesses that are “killing it”, but yet they don’t have a great online presence. Why? It could be billboards or radio advertisements, postcards and door hangers, or even something as simple as a vehicle wrap. There are dozens of potential reasons, but the overarching reason is Branding. We see it in almost every industry, from contractors to shoes, people are brand loyal. It is possible that a new company can break away and grow quickly, but chances are they have something else in their arsenal and are getting a leg up on the competition.
Not only does a stable offline marketing strategy help grow your business, but it also affects your online marketing efforts. Since branded search is one of the bigger signals Google looks for, you’re bound to see a difference the more active you are. That’s not to say you can’t perform well without it, but every little bit helps. Let’s look at an example in action:
- Business A runs a complete package of online marketing including SEO, PPC, and Social. Let’s even throw Email Marketing in there. They also use a Loyalty Card program, have a referral rewards program, and advertise on the radio. They don’t go a month without engaging with their existing customer base
- Business B also does SEO, PPC, and Social, but they don’t have any programs set up for existing customers. They develop promotions but don’t have a way to engage with their base, so they rely on new customers to use those promotions.
In this scenario, when a customer comes to Business A, they get an entire experience. They use the service; get a follow up, maybe even a discount for their fifth time using the service. They are encouraged to bring friends and family, and will likely do so without request. They are going to probably leave a review which will in turn generate more interest from people they didn’t even reach out to! A potential new client will search online and find Business A then research them, and see the threads of everything Business A is doing. More than likely that new client will at least call because of that research.
Whereas in Business B’s case, they could have a wonderful experience, but don’t have any urge to come back or refer unless they have experiences beyond expectations. They very well could refer a friend or leave a review, but most customers need that prodding to act as you want. You’re going to see growth, but perhaps not at the scale you can handle. A potential new client will search and see some activity, but if compared to Business A, the chances of getting that call are slim. It may seem fairly obvious when putting this all on paper, but it’s more common to see Business B than it is to see Business A.
Building a Brand
So what can you do? You want to be Business A, but you don’t know how. There are some simple tools to get started that can apply to any industry. The example above may not be feasible for you, but these are some tactics that are feasible.
- Establish a Review Base: Whether you have 1 client a day or 100, reviews are vital to any growing business. Its how new customers evaluate you before they even talk to you. Start by engaging with those you recently dealt with. Encourage them to give feedback, be it good or bad (you will have negative reviews, and it’s not the end of the world) on whatever platform they want. Be wary of incentivizing reviews, but if you do, do so organically. You want people to feel like they should want to leave reviews, not be forced. You’ll be surprised at how effective simply asking can be.
- Find your Demo: This one will come in time, but if you have a consistent demographic, you’ll eventually learn how to target them. Maybe they tend to be dog lovers. A marketing piece that focuses on that love could go a long way in keeping your brand in front of them.
- Consistency is Key: What you do online needs to match what you do offline. If you promise quality over expedience online, you better promise the same in your other marketing efforts. People research, and if there is confusion in any way, you’ll bet someone will find it. Be consistent and you’ll become stronger as a result.
- Customer Service: Lastly, and quite possibly the most obvious, is to have fantastic customer service from initial inquiry to service completion (or beyond). Studies have shown that businesses who respond to inquiries more quickly tend to get the jobs more often. Try to limit voicemails if you can avoid it. The old adage of “treat people as you wish to be treated” is true even in business. Someone who has a great experience will likely tell anyone who will listen. Similarly, the opposite is also true. The customer isn’t always right, but how you go about telling them can mean a world of difference.
What you’re looking to do in all of this is to have a brand that people remember and more importantly want to work with. If you work on getting yourself out there in all fronts, you’re more prone to getting the business you want. Online marketing is incredibly important, but it is not a cure-all. A well-oiled machine of a business can run circles around a business that is praying online will deliver. Become the business that you’d want to hire for your own life, and you’ll see those leads start to come from places you never knew existed.