Marketing is not an exact science. There is no formula. It is more of an art. Don’t let this overwhelm you; it’s a good thing! You’ve got flexibility. Room to move and try out new things. You have many options for growing your business. It’s just a matter of finding the right mix of channels. So how do you find that right mix? This post will provide guidelines to help you identify which marketing channels you should be using according to the stage your business is in.
Start with a Website
You may feel inclined to start with free marketing channels first, but there is one channel that is not free that you absolutely need to have, and that is a website.
Setting your business up on any other online marketing channel might help to promote your business, gain visibility, and expand your reach, but what is the point of that if you don’t have a website to drive your audience to? Potential customers don’t convert into customers—or even leads—upon the first encounter with your business.
The first marketing channel for your business is your website, where you can engage your audience, build trust with them, and provide ample opportunities for them to convert into leads and customers naturally.
A high-quality, professionally built website is the key to getting a return on the investment into all of your other marketing strategies. It may cost money, but it will cost you more money to attempt to market without one.
Free and Easy Marketing Channels
Now that you have a website, it’s time to get started with the free and immediate channels:
- Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin (Which social media platform is right for you?)
- Review Sites and Directories: Get listed on Google My Business, Google Maps, Yelp, niche-specific directories
- Influencer Collaborations: build relationships with influencers and make an offer in exchange for getting some exposure to their audience.
These marketing channels will help to build your audience, drive customers directly to your business, or to your website where they can form a relationship with your business.
Related eBook: Social Media Pocket Guide
Free and Not-as-Easy Marketing Channels
Having an online presence through a website, social media, and review sites is only the first step in marketing. Now it’s time to optimize your presence— show your expertise, represent your brand values, and connect with your audience. These channels require more time and energy, but they are well worth it, especially if you don’t have the money to spend on paid efforts:
- Blogging: Blogging will help your website (and therefore your business) to get found by people searching online
- SEO: Blogging is part of SEO, but you can also make changes to your website to optimize its presence on search engines (find out more here). SEO is completely free, but it takes time. However, publishing a steady stream of useful, valuable content over time is going to result in more customers for your business. As such, SEO is one of the best marketing channels to go with if you have the time for it.
- Video: Video is another free marketing channel that takes time, but you don’t have to hire a professional or even buy a fancy camera. Posting tutorials to social media and doing live events is a great way to resonate with your audience and attract the people to your business who are most likely to become customers.
- Publishing: Whether you contribute an article to your local newspaper or online publication or get featured on an influencer’s blog, you can get your business noticed by more of the right people. Once again, this marketing strategy takes more time as you’ll have to identify the right outlets and perfect your work, but the exposure is well worth it.
- Reviews: Getting set up on review sites, directories, and social media platforms is free and easy. Getting reviews on these sites is the next step for this marketing channel. Having positive customer feedback will help to improve your rank on search results for these channels, resulting in more traffic to your website and your store.
Inexpensive Marketing Channels
These marketing channels aren’t exactly free, but they are affordable ways to grow your business.
- Events: the cost of an event will vary. In some cases, you’ll be able to run a seminar, class, or tutorial at no cost to you other than your time. Have a station where interested prospects can leave their contact information. In other cases, you may have to invest in food, beverages, or a venue. Your budget and bandwidth will help you decide if events are a good marketing channel for your business.
- Email marketing: to perform effective email marketing, you’ll need a platform. Some platforms are free, while others are paid. This marketing channel requires time and effort spent around growing your list, maintaining your list, and finding creative ways to drive people to your store and website. It’s a great marketing channel for staying in communication with your audience and expressing your brand’s personality.
Related eBook: Email Marketing for Business Owners
Paid Marketing Channels
Once you have your digital foundation set up and have built awareness around your brand within your community, it’s a good idea to invest in some paid marketing channels for your business. These include:
- Social Media Advertising: Social media advertising is probably the best paid advertising channel to start with. You are reaching a highly engaged audience, and the targeting is so advanced you can really get the most bang for your buck.
- Search Engine Advertising: this is another paid marketing channel that can grant you a lot of exposure to more of the right people. It requires knowing which keywords to target and how your audience behaves online
- Offline Ads: Don’t forget about offline marketing channels too! Try print ads, billboards, or even radio ads. Local stations are a great way to target local customers.
- Sponsoring: Another offline marketing channel that will help reinforce your brand in your community is sponsoring a team or local event.
- Swag: Getting your logo and business information printed on useful items can help to reinforce your marketing efforts at events, in your store, or even on social media (such as if you ran a contest with a piece of swag as the prize).
Related: Online Advertising eBook
More Advanced Marketing Channels
If you’re well on your way with your marketing system, you might then want to try adding more channels in, such as:
- Display Advertising: With display advertising, you can pay to have branded, visually appealing banner ads appear on popular and relevant websites.
- Retargeting: With retargeting, you can set specific ads to appear in front of people who have already visited your website.
Before adding on new marketing channels, take a look at what you are already using and make sure you are optimizing your efforts. Then, add on any of the above-mentioned channels according to the stage your business is in and the resources you have.
For more help with marketing your business, download our free eBook below: