Mix It Up With a Diversified Marketing Strategy

If you’re like most small businesses, marketing might seem like a bit of a crapshoot. You hurl yourself into social media, maybe send out a few postcards or put an ad in the paper and hope for the best. Truth be told, for businesses that are new to marketing, the spaghetti on the wall approach isn’t a bad thing, so long as you measure and monitor as you go and refine your approach based on what activity is generating leads.

You might have heard from your accountant or financial planner that it’s always a good idea to diversify your assets. Believe it or not, the same thing goes for marketing. Once you have honed in on your target market, you can start to figure out the best places to market your services to them.  But just like in finance, it’s never a good idea to put all your eggs in one basket.

If you’re on Instagram, you might remember the near hysteria that occurred a few weeks ago when information began circulating that the platform was going to change its algorithm to deliver “engaged” posts first, instead of its current chronological format. This change created panic amongst businesses who rely on Instagram, and feeds began filling up with requests for followers to “turn on notifications” so brands wouldn’t be left in the gutter. Of course, none of that was the case, and within 24 hours, the dust settled and our photo-op obsessed existence went back to whatever we consider normal nowadays.

For any brand that went into panic mode, this potential change should have been a wake-up call. Instagram, Facebook and any of the social media goliaths have the opportunity to change the way they do things in the blink of an eye, and they aren’t likely to ask permission. So if you were one of the business owners who felt their heart drop into their stomach at the thought of an algorithm change, here’s my advice. Diversify your marketing with a mix of channels that will help you stand out from the crowd and give you the ability to market a message through multiple touch points, not just a single picture or post. It’s that simple.

In marketing, there are five general categories to explore. Let’s go through them.

  1. Social Media – Small businesses love using social media because its wide-reaching, free (or cheap) and it doesn’t take much time or effort. Don’t get me wrong; I love social media as much as the next person, but here’s the thing. Because everyone uses it, it can be hard to get noticed and stand out from the crowd. So, by all means, use it, but don’t rely on it as a sole means to market.
  2. Digital Marketing – In addition to social media, there are lots of things we can do online to promote our businesses. Email newsletters, online advertising, ad words, your own website, blogs, vlogs, and self-publishing sites such as Medium give you plenty of opportunities to raise awareness for your brand. Using some of these tools in conjunction with social media is a great way to reach a larger audience.
  3. Traditional Marketing – Remember when you used to get 20 pieces of snail mail and five emails in a day? Good times. With everyone rushing to build a digital and mobile brand, it’s worth remembering how powerful a traditional marketing approach can be. Whether it’s a postcard mailer, business cards on the bulletin boards of the local coffee shops, or even an ad on the local radio or newspaper, a bit of old-school outreach can be extremely effective, so long as they hit the right audience for your product.
  4. PR – The say public relations is the oldest profession in the world, and it’s no wonder why. For generations, people have used the power and reach of the media to get their brand in front of potential customers. From seeing your product featured in a major magazine to enlisting an influencer to spread the good word, PR is a powerful mechanism for building a brand. It’s not the easiest way to get attention, but because it’s widely recognized to be a non-paid endorsement, a nod from a well-regarded person or publication can easily be a major boost for your business.
  5. Events – Many start-ups are so consumed by digital marketing that they forget the power of being seen as a living, breathing brand. Event marketing is a great way to allow people to see, hear and touch your product or service, especially if you’re target market is concentrated to a local area. If you’re a new yoga studio, setting up a free class at the local park is a great way to attract new customers. If you’re an accountant, attending networking events might be the ticket to drawing up new business. People don’t fall in love with profile pictures and posts; they fall in love with living, breathing human beings. So make sure your face and name are out where your customers are.

So now you know the five areas of marketing. From this list, pick at least one channel from each category to help you build your marketing plan.  As an example, let’s say you own a florist that delivers daily, pre-arranged bouquets at a very affordable price. You might use Instagram to showcase your bouquet of the day and email newsletters to make sure potential customers see it when they arrive to work in the morning. Then you might decide you want to put up flyers in the local coffee shops, and hand out discount cards at the local farmers market. Finally, you might decide to offer a flower-arranging workshop once per month at your studio, and you’ll use Facebook events to notify your target market about the event. Then you might invite the local paper along to participate in the workshop and take photos for a potential feature story. These activities might represent your first month’s marketing activities and from here you can measure and monitor which channels provided the best results. Then, you can decide which to repeat, which to tweak and which to discard altogether.

Remember, there is no use putting together a marketing mix if you have no way to measure your results. The key to getting the best bang for your buck is ensuring you ask the question “how did you hear about us?” with every new interaction. Otherwise, you’ll find it tough to decipher one channel’s results from the next. Good luck!

Need help planning your marketing strategy? Get in touch, we are here to help!

Discovering Your Target Market

When I begin working with a new business, one of the first things I ask the owner is, “Who is your target market?” Unsurprisingly, the answer I usually get is, “Everyone”.

I can promise you that your product or service won’t appeal to everyone, so let’s start with the basics. Who is most likely to go for what you’re trying to sell? Is it…

  • Men or women or both?
  • Younger people, older people or both?
  • People in a certain area of the world, country, state, city or neighborhood?
  • People that earn a certain income?
  • People who are single or married? Have kids or don’t?
  • People who’ve completed a certain level of education?

Let me give you an example. Let’s say I am launching a make-up company that only uses ethically sourced, organic materials and contains no chemicals. My cheapest product is a lipstick, which retails for $18. Everything is American made.

From that basic information, I can segment my audience down using a few assumptions:

  • I sell makeup, so my target market will mainly be women
  • My price point is higher than average, so I can assume my target market will probably be women who are at least 30 years old and have a higher than average disposable income.
  • I believe that as women get older, they typically become quite loyal to the beauty products that they use. So I am going to assume that my target market probably tops out at about 45 years old.
  • My products are American-made so obviously, I am targeting the American market. But because one of my points of difference is organic and ethical, I will most likely find women who are interested in those kinds of products in larger cities with greater affluence and wider exposure to environmental and health issues.
  • My product is not specific to marital or family status, so I’m going to skip this one for now.
  • Again, because of my price point and my point of difference, I can assume my target market will be college educated.

So now we’ve gone from “Everyone”, to:

  • Women
  • Aged 30-45
  • From affluent neighborhoods in major cities
  • Who earn an above average income
  • Who are college educated
  • Who actively care about the environment and their own wellbeing

Now you give it a try.  If you get stuck on one question, ask yourself what type of customer you’d want to attract. For instance, in my example, I got stuck on marital and family status. But when I think about it, I know that moms are super busy, and buying organic lipstick is probably not right on the top of their to-do list. This is a wicked generalization, but for the sake of an example, I’m going to ask you to go with me on this one. So from here, I might then determine that I’m better suited to target people who don’t have children. I can make other determinations as well. For instance:

If I know my target customer cares about the environment and her own wellbeing, I can probably assume that she eats healthy, shops in upscale groceries stores, and exercises a few times a week. Also, since she likely lives in a big city and earns an above average income with a college degree, I might be able to deduce that she has a professional job, possibly in a management role, or that she owns her own business.

So now we’ve gone from “Everyone” to:

  • Women
  • Aged 30-45
  • From affluent neighborhoods in major cities
  • Who earn an above average income
  • Who are college educated
  •  Who actively care about the environment and their own wellbeing
  • Who don’t currently have children
  • Who eat healthy, shop in upscale groceries stores, and exercise a few times a week
  • Who have a professional job or own a successful business

Now we’re getting somewhere! Now that we know a bit more about our target market’s personal demographics, we can begin to think about how we might be able to find and attract her with our marketing efforts. So, as an example, I might think about:

  • Creating an ad on Instagram showcasing a woman with beautiful, natural makeup that specifically targets women who fit into my categories
  • Writing some articles about the long term effects of chemical-based makeup on LinkedIn, where I know I can find educated, professional women aged 30-45 who are following tags about beauty
  • Researching events in my target geographic locations where I might find my customers, such as farmers markets, yoga workshops or fitness events
  • Looking to partner with a bigger, more well known retail brand and offer mini makeovers in their store

You get the idea.

When you start a business, no matter what kind of business it is, you have to begin by defining who your customer is, how they live their lives and why your product or service suits them to a tee. Once you define that customer, you can begin creating a marketing plan to match. But we’ll leave that one for next time!

Stuck on where to start? We can help! Get in touch.