It is really easy to get caught up in the “right” way to do marketing. Look around at what is published online and you find rather useless advice about creating “great,” “original,” “interesting,” content. Pretty much choose an adjective and throw it in front of the word content and you have about 90% of what my peers in the industry tell you to do. Unfortunately, this advice rarely helps small businesses market successfully.
Marketers, especially inbound marketers, actually have some really good ideas, though we often generalize when we write about them. It is unavoidable to a certain degree. We don’t know your specific circumstances and even though we talk about being niche, that doesn’t necessary mean we do it ourselves. Some of the larger inbound marketing agencies cover a huge range of topics that all fall under the umbrella of “inbound marketing.” That is not nearly niche enough, but they want to show up on any search remotely related to inbound marketing, so that it works for them.
Small businesses need to get tactical and need results fast. They don’t have the luxury of trying a variety of marketing ideas that may or may not work. They need something that will increase business right away. Inbound marketers love to tell small businesses to just create content and optimize it for search, though small businesses often have trouble finding the time or money to create the content they need to make inbound marketing work quickly. While content marketing, the cornerstone of inbound marketing, does work, it often takes a long time. And there is no guarantee it will be successful.
Sure, you might get some quick wins, but the reality of the situation is that it can take months, sometimes even longer, to get content marketing to work for you. It is highly fickle and definitely not a science (no matter what you are told). How could it be? We are optimizing for something we only can guess at‚Äö√Ñ√ÆGoogle doesn’t actually tell us how their search algorithm works, they just give vague advice (similar to inbound marketers). We know inbound marketing works in general, but the specifics of success often elude us.
So, what is the solution to this problem then? Simply, trust your gut. You know your customers. You are close to them and know what works and what doesn’t. If you find marketing tactics that are working, keep it up even if they are not “the right way” to do online marketing. Small businesses know that online marketing is just marketing, only it is done online. There is absolutely nothing new about the way marketing is done, except the medium (which happens to be through the web now days).
Inbound marketing has been around for over a century, since John Deere “started” it in 1895. Though, in reality it has been around for centuries before that, and probably longer. Marketing fundamentals and good business sense still apply regardless of the medium or the method. Remember that and you will be successful.
There is no reason to be afraid of trying something new. Just do it in small steps. Don’t jeopardize your existing marketing efforts that are working. You want to augment and enhance them. Target a small group of prospects and see if your new marketing idea works. Get crazy. I’ve seen some really wild ideas that have produced some profound results‚Äö√Ñ√Æideas only small businesses could get away with and make work. Once you feel comfortable your idea has some benefit, start expanding it.
Add new marketing ideas into the mix slowly. Some ideas might be great, but take a little time to gain traction. Introduce a new marketing idea and then give it time to work. All the more reason to not make wholesale changes to your marketing efforts all at once and instead introduce them in small steps. Often, marketing efforts need to reach a critical tipping point. Don’t get discouraged if it takes a little while for your idea to work. You can try multiple ideas at once. If it becomes clear that you are not seeing any results, dump it. There is no sense holding onto an idea that isn’t working.
There are two good way to find out if something is working or not. The first is metrics. You should be tracking everything with your analytics software. This is the easiest way to track online efforts. The second is simply to ask. Ask your customers where or how they heard about you. This is a great way to discover which of your ideas is working, and to find out if there are outside factors contributing (that you might be able to influence and facilitate).
One of my clients speaks to all of her customers. She has thousands, so this is no small feat. She wants to know how they heard about her business, so she asks. She also asks what they think of her marketing ideas. This tells her what is working and gives her a feel for what marketing tactics a prospect might respond to. After all, her current clients buy her products so she knows she wanted to target people similar to them. Her customers are her greatest source of inspiration. Don’t be afraid to make use of yours.
There is no right or wrong way to market. Don’t get caught up in all the hubbub of the latest marketing tactics. Many of them do work, but you know your business and your customers best so trust your instincts on how best to reach out to them. Make use of the tools and tactics available, introducing them slowing and tracking their success. Experiment and ask your customers what they think‚Äö√Ñ√Æyou might just discover the best marketing idea ever!