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Questionnaire: Marketing Strategy
Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors | Last updated February 16, 2018
Also available in PDF | MS Word
Now that you've perfected your product, hired employees, and ramped up production, it's time to market your goods to potential customers . This is a very important part of the process, since a solid marketing strategy can be the difference between success or failure regardless of the quality of your offerings.
Large corporations have the resources to hire devoted marketing professionals, conduct tests with potential customers, and trumpet their message on multiple mass media outlets. But as a small business, you'll need to be more creative and selective with how you connect with your market . Remember, word of mouth (or, increasingly, online social media) is very powerful and essentially free.
Although certainly not an exhaustive list, the following are some items that you may want to consider when developing a marketing strategy or plan for your business, product, or service.
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75 market research questions to ask.
Market Research Questions
Questions to ask customers, pricing and value, product or service questions, online visibility questions, reputation management, messaging and advertising.
Awwweeeesome. This questions well designed, covers key areas of business and are important for a startup, growing business as well as businesses that would like to maintain their level of success.
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50 marketing survey questions and marketing surveys examples.
Free questionnaires and marketing survey examples that you can copy and create your own survey today.
Conducing a marketing survey is one of the most affordable and effective ways to do profound research and collect real customer feedback which is considered to be one of the key elements to every successful business/product/service.
Long gone are the days when “ gut feelings ” and making assumptions were good enough. Nowadays, marketing based on data is the foundation to making important and effective decisions regardless of how big or small your business is.
Surveys and the use of all sorts of marketing forms are just part of any marketing teams’ DNA. So having them embedded in your marketing activities comes by default.
Why Marketing Surveys Are Important?
Survey 1: market research survey, survey 2: competitor research survey, survey 3: buyer persona / customer analysis survey, survey 4: brand awareness survey, survey 5: product research survey, steps to conduct a marketing survey.
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Marketing surveys and marketing research in general, are rightfully considered to be an essential part of every business for a few reasons such as:
Help you identify opportunities and threats
Conducting a marketing survey helps businesses to know in which direction they should move and what to avoid along the road.
The perfect example: coming across unreached segments meaning people who might not know your brand, opportunities such as business partnerships and collaborations, and various ways to improve your product/service meaning upsells to more customers.
Well-done marketing research will provide you with a variety of data that will help you make better decisions and therefore reduce the risks of failure at any given time.
The perfect example: expanding to new markets – and trust us when we say, knowledge is power. The data you’ll collect will help you predict how well your products will sell regionally and whether that expansion is worth it or not.
Stay ahead of your competition
Keeping your eyes wide open and researching your competitors will help you stay ahead in the game. You could look into what are they doing, how are they progressing, what channels are they using and how, are they going with paid advertisements.
The perfect example: when conveying a survey about your competitor’s product you can gain valuable insights about its least and most valuable features and stay ahead of them by improving your solution based on this data.
? Here’s a list with the best marketing tools and software, both paid and free that will help you along the road.
Connect with your audience
Researching and understanding your customers means only one thing in today’s world – you will be able to connect with your audience better and more effectively. Instead of using a one-size-fits-all approach, based on data, you will be able to customize your message.
The perfect example: while doing a buyer persona survey, you will find out the demographic details of your customers plus their interests. According to this information, you could customize the message across all social media platforms – more friendly and easy-going on your Instagram and TikTok, professional and awareness-increasing on your LinkedIn profile.
Researching your market in order to get valuable insights and understand it, is key to every phase of developing and launching your product/service.
Let’s cover some basics before getting into how to do your own market research survey.
According to HubSpot’s team :
“ Market research is the process of gathering information about your target market and customers ” .
Market research can be done in various ways, and in our case via conducting surveys, so we could say – market research survey is a list of questions answered by your customers/ or potential customers regarding various subjects.
Why do it: conducting this type of survey will not only help you understand your customers and the market you are entering but it will also help you reach a specific audience, make better decisions, measure brand awareness, help you understand how to position your price on the market, gain insights on your product or a future product, and help you with your content creation and distribution.
Market Research Survey Examples:
- What is your age? What is your gender?
- What is your education level?
- Where do you live?
- What is your profession? What do you do for a living?
- What’s your household income and household size?
- What are your biggest challenges?
- What are your hobbies/interests? What do you do in your free time?
- What is most important to you?
- How do you get your information? What’s your most valuable and reliable source of information?
- How do you like to make purchases? Do you feel comfortable shopping online?
Keep in mind though that market research is a broader term, meaning there are a lot of example questions related to various sub-topics. It’s up to you to choose what part you want to focus on.
For example, besides doing regular marketing surveys, a few years ago Starbucks had created another domain with the goal of doing market research, where people could submit their ideas and proposals. MyStarbucksIdea.com which is currently not operational accepted 100 ideas from thousands of people worldwide and implemented them into their business. Ideas like adding vegan options in their menu etc.
An interesting way to engage the audience, collect data and do market research of the wants and needs of your customers. Here is a full video of this initiative:
Getting to know your competition might feel scary and intimidating but by looking at the bigger picture you will gain power and valuable perspective that will definitely help you in the long run.
Why do it : conducting such a survey will help you understand who your competitors are, how people perceive them against your brand/product/service, how is your offer and price in comparison to your competitors, and ultimately help you with targeting new customers.
Competitor research survey examples:
- Have you heard of our company/brand?
- Have you purchased something from our company?
- If you did, how satisfied were you with your purchase? How long have you been a customer?
- If not, what was the reason?
- How likely are you to recommend our company to a friend?
- Have you heard of #name of a competitor?
- Have you purchased from #name of a competitor?
- What made you choose us over a competitor/ and vice versa?
- What do you wish our product/service had that it currently does not?
- What do you like most/least? How does your product/service fits into your workflow/meet your daily needs?
For example, the Swedish brand Happy Socks with e-mail marketing’s help and surveys are researching their competitors and the overall experience people had with purchasing on their website. To make their survey even more successful they are offering 25% off + free shipping.
Other things worth looking into are: how are your competitors attracting customers, how well are their social media channels performing, how much website traffic do they have and from what type of sources, which keywords are they ranking for and with what type of content. Helpful tools: Google Trends , Semrush , and AnswerThePublic .
In the marketing world, buyer personas are fictional individuals that represent your ideal customer.
It’s a Stock image next to an imaginary name, personal information and goals, life challenges and interests, work title, skills and experience, and most importantly how you fit into their life ( how your product incorporates in their lifestyle/ what problem does it solve ).
Why do it : doing a detailed customer analysis with a marketing survey will help you understand your customer’s needs and problems and empathize with them; based on the data you will be able to tailor your marketing efforts; understand purchasing decisions; get some behavioral insights, and create more targeted content for every channel.
“In my experience, creating buyer personas and getting to know our (potential) customers was a game-changer. It allowed us to strategically plan our entire content marketing strategy. Across all of our channels, we started personalising the message we wanted to convey, and the content that was being published. This helped us increase the engagement across all channels, increase our organic blog traffic with relevant visitors, and of most importantly increase our sales”.
Customer analysis survey examples:
- Demographic questions such as: What’s your age, gender, educational background, and career path?
- What are your interests and hobbies? What do you do in your spare time?
- What company do you work for/in which industry/ and a number of employees?
- What are your job title and main responsibilities? Whom do you report to and who reports to you? How is your work measured?
- What are your biggest challenges (both professionally and personally)? What triggers you to find a solution?
- What tools do you use at your job?
- How are you using our product/service/software and what are your main objectives with it?
- What is the most common reason you’re not buying a certain product?
- How do you learn about new information and which blogs/publications do you read? What’s your favorite social network?
- How do you purchase things? How do you search for information? How would you describe your last purchase?
Helpful tools when it comes to creating Buyer Persona from your conducted survey: Make My Persona .
An effective marketing survey that will help you to understand customer behavior is to create a very detailed and in-depth feedback form. See the example by Chipotle:
How memorable is your brand? How well do your customers know your brand? How do your customers perceive your brand?
If you are looking into answering these questions and more, it’s about time you conduct a brand awareness survey.
Brand awareness is a combination of four things:
- brand recognition – how recognizable is your brand
- brand recall – how memorable is your brand and how does your brand come to your customer’s mind
- brand identity – how well are your brand’s mission and vision understood
- brand image – the overall feel and opinion on your brand
Why do it : getting to know how your customers perceive your brand will help you improve your positioning on the market and therefore, help you grow your business, and increase your brand awareness and sales.
Take, for example, the everlasting battle between Coke and Pepsi ? – it is no longer a who’s got a better taste kinda battle, but instead who’s got a more loyal community.
Brand awareness survey examples:
- Which brands do you most commonly purchase products from?
- Which of the following brands do you recognize?
- If #name of the brand was a person, how would you describe it? What’s your opinion on it?
- How did you find out about #name of the brand ? How likely are you to recommend it to a friend or family?
- You have #a certain problem – what brand/company do you turn to?
- Which of the following statements do you associate with #name of the brand ?
- How could we make you loyal to our brand? What’s crucial to you?
- What’s the first thing when you think of #name of the brand?
- When was the last time you used the #name of the brand?
- How familiar are you with our brand?
Here are more questions and a premade brand awareness survey template you can start using right now:
Launching a new product takes a lot of effort, money, and time but also it comes with a lot of uncertainty and fear of failure.
You never know whether the product will be a success or not, but there is something to do about your doubts – conduct a product research survey.
A product research survey can be both when launching a new product or when looking into improving an old one.
Why do it : it will help you evaluate your customer’s reaction and opinion regarding your new/improved product and therefore help you make better decisions about the product’s functionalities, features, and design.
Product research survey examples:
- How often do you use our product/service during the day/week/month?
- How long have you been using our product/service?
- How would you rate our product/service?
- What problems are you trying to solve with our product?
- What features are missing?
- Which features are most valuable to you?
- Which important features could be better/improved?
- How easy it is to use our product/rate on a scale from 0-10?
- How would you rate the value for money?
- Have you faced any problems while using our product/service?
For example, Alex Tooby wanted to make a pulse check of her audience to understand what kind of content (her type of product) they will want from her to create. It is a perfect marketing survey to see what her target audience needs so she can accommodate her services based on their actual needs.
Now that you are aware of the most important types of marketing surveys, it’s only fair to move on to a practical step-by-step of how to conduct a single survey.
Step 1: Set a clear goal
Before starting to write those questions, think about a clear goal of why you’re doing the marketing survey.
Are you looking into expanding to other markets? Are you looking into creating and launching a new product or improving an old one? What exactly are you looking to find out by doing the survey?
Setting clear goals and intentions for the marketing survey will help you get the answers you need.
Step 2: Map out a workflow for the task
This is more of a technical thing to do – but nonetheless, it’s important. Make sure you establish a budget, choose what markets you want to survey, decide whether you’ll hire a market research company to assist you, and based on your goals – choose what you’ll investigate.
Step 3: Choose a tool in which you’ll create the survey
Make sure you also put a lot of thought into how the marketing survey would look. You don’t want to overwhelm your target group with too many questions at once or have a survey with an inconvenient design.
Step 4: Collect and analyze the data, and lastly
Step 5: take action.
Based on your research findings and the initial goals, you can make a safe decision and choose a direction in which you want to “move”.
Free Marketing Survey Tools
Now that we’ve gone over every how and why, the only thing remaining are the tools with which you can create these surveys, and here are some free options:
- Google Forms – free, fast, and it even automatically saves your results to a Google SpreadSheet so you can analyze your results. There are versatile options for long and short answers, multiple-choice selections, dropdown options, the ability to add both images and videos, create your form as a quiz, etc.
- Microsoft Forms – favoring Microsoft over Google, Excel over Google Sheets? If so, do go with this form builder. It’s free, simple, and connected with Excel which has more powerful data analytics functionalities.
- Jotform – is another free online survey builder which is most known for its huge forms library with approximately 10,000 surveys. The first five forms are free (everything above – they are charging $24 per month).
- EmbedForms – is an innovative solution that will not only help you create forms but also help you to transform those forms into widgets for your website. Besides being forever free, this builder tool is packed with helpful features such as an advanced drag and drop editor, conditional logic options to create a certain flow of your form, and an easy way to share your marketing survey results.
If you’re looking for more alternatives – here’s a list with more than 25+ Form Builder Tools .
Using surveys is an affordable and effective way to get valuable insights both for the market and your customers, so do make sure to make the most of it!
Now you have all the information needed, so there’s no need to spend additional time searching for the right questions, instead, you can only focus on getting that customer feedback and making better decisions based on data.
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Marketing Questionnaire: A Complete Guide + 10-Question Template
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Marketing is an essential requirement when it comes to making a business stand out from the crowd. However, the world of digital marketing is continuously changing, and it can be tough for organizations to know the right steps they need to make to take their brand forward.
That is why hiring a specialist marketing team is a great way to ensure campaigns are always working at their optimum. It can be incredibly difficult for agencies to get the relevant information from their clients, which is why it is essential to have a marketing client onboarding questionnaire.
What is a digital marketing questionnaire?
Before we take a look at the benefits of creating a digital marketing questionnaire, it is first important to understand what one is. This unique document is a series of questions that are designed to elicit as much information as possible from a client, ensuring that your agency knows exactly what the client is looking for.
The more comprehensive you are with your marketing client onboarding questionnaire, the smoother the project will be and the greater the results you will attain. These series of questions will encourage your client to start thinking about their business, their goals, and what they hope to achieve from the marketing campaign.
Alongside helping to understand what it is your client is hoping for, a marketing strategy questionnaire also allows you to understand who their target audience is and the industry sectors they cover.
There is an almost endless choice of questions that you could include within your digital marketing questionnaire. For the best results, though, you want to ensure that you are focusing on the areas that are relevant to the client and their audience.
Why is it important to create one for your projects?
Having your new clients fill out a comprehensive digital marketing strategy questionnaire plays a vital role in ensuring you can take on the project with confidence. It can be a daunting prospect for businesses who have never taken on a marketing agency before, so this questionnaire will help to give them confidence in your brand.
A digital marketing client questionnaire is designed to remove any confusion and ensure your agency is able to get all of the information it needs. The more thorough you are with your questions, the more you will be able to understand your client and their needs, reducing the risk of miscommunication and ensuring a smoother project.
Not only does a questionnaire help to enhance communication, but it also provides your team with a clear structure that you can work from. This reduces the need for back and forth trying to find simple bits of information and helps to make the project as efficient as possible.
The best ten questions you should add to your marketing survey
When it comes to creating the most effective marketing strategy questionnaire, it can be tough to know what questions you should ask your client. To help you produce the most insightful document possible, we have taken a closer look at ten of the best questions that you should include:
- What does your business do?
One of the most important questions to ask any prospective client is what exactly it is that their business does. This will ensure that you have all of the relative insight into their organization and will not need to undertake a lot of back and forth. It will also ensure that their operations fit within your marketing specialty and ensures that your agency is a good fit for them.
- What makes your business different?
The next question you should ask on your marketing client onboarding questionnaire is what it is that makes their business unique. This answer should be the key ingredient to your entire project and will be what you build the campaign around.
- What is your vision for the future?
Another essential question to be asking new clients is what vision they have for the future of their company. To get an idea of their goals, you should break the question down into one year from now, five years from now, and ten years from now. This insight will allow you to create both short-term and long-term strategies to yield the greatest results for your clients.
- What would your definition of success be for this project?
Every marketing agency will have experienced a time when a client’s expectation was different from theirs. Asking this question in your content marketing questionnaire will ensure that you are both operating from the same page and understand what expectations are for the project.
- Who is your target audience?
Effective marketing relies on your campaigns being put in front of the right people. This question will ensure that you understand exactly who you will need to be targeting to ensure that the project is a success.
- Have you worked on a marketing campaign before? What was your experience?
Finding out whether your new client has previously worked on a marketing campaign, either themselves or via an agency, will help you to understand what might have worked and where they could improve. It will also allow you to understand what they might not have liked about a previous agency, ensuring you can take steps to create the best working relationship possible.
- What is your budget for this project?
Marketing budgets differ greatly depending on the client and the campaign, so asking new buyers upfront what their overall budget is will ensure you can tailor your approach to meet their demands. It also allows your agency to set realistic expectations early in the project, boosting communication.
- What is your deadline for the project?
As well as finding out the client’s budget, you should also ask them what their deadline for the whole campaign is. This will allow you to build the campaign around this to guarantee the best results.
- Who are your competitors?
This question will allow you to see what is currently working within their industry and what consumers are reacting to.
- Who is the main point of contact?
Finally, it would help if you also had them confirm who the main point of contact throughout the project will be. This will ensure a smooth and efficient level of communication.
Use and design the marketing client onboarding questionnaire template
Are you looking to create a marketing client onboarding questionnaire but are not sure where to begin? Here at Hola Brief, we know how confusing it can be to start. That is why we have created a comprehensive digital marketing questionnaire template that you can download today.
This completely editable PDF will allow you to create the most in-depth document for your clients, helping you to save time and money and ensure the smoothest project possible. Our mission is to help you strengthen your relationship with your clients and give you complete peace of mind.
So, if you want to find out more about how we can help you, check our questionnaire today or get in touch with our team to find out more.
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Learn about your target market and build an effective marketing strategy. What do they think about your product/ services? Are they satisfied with the price-to-feature value? Our user-friendly market research survey templates make it easy to collect insights, so you can create a highly-successful marketing plan.
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Do your customers understand your product? What connection do they feel towards your brand? What are their expectations? Is your product meeting your customers’ expectations?
Marketing surveys are an effective medium to dive deep into aspects such as customer satisfaction, brand awareness, product/feature perception, and concept testing. They can help you (as well as your consumers) better understand what products you offer and why customers need them, through valuable and coherent data.
Effective VoC makes powerful marketing content
A successful company relies on collecting and acting on feedback on a regular basis. Listening to your customer is an effective way to understand what they need and develop competitive marketing strategies accordingly.
Intensive customer touchpoint interaction leads to higher customer satisfaction
A great customer experience can be created by making each interaction a meaningful one. Based on the positive experiences they’ve had, customers will come back again and again, establishing a relationship with your company. Positive interactions make them more likely to recommend your product/service, and feedback from dissatisfied customers gives you insights on how to improve your offerings.
Effortlessly keep track of your campaigns
As a marketer, keeping track of your daily campaigns is important to stay ahead of the competition. Understand what your customers think every step of the way by collecting feedback through brand acceptance surveys . Price your products appropriately by using pricing surveys. Integrate the data collected and adjust your marketing strategy according to the market demands.
Polish your branding strategies
To keep generating new leads, you need to stay relevant. Brand awareness surveys help businesses with exactly that. They are compact, easy to deploy, and help marketers generate authentic marketing content through research. Refine your branding ideas and develop a branding strategy that creates a lasting impact in the market.
Simple solutions to complex problems
Confidently launch your product in a well—researched market. Gain a deep understanding of your target demographic, understand brand loyalty, and identify how to position your product. Integrate your market research to make better decisions with the acquired data. Market research surveys offer a wide range of solutions, including:
Product development & pricing
Understand what your customers want, assess the price point of your customer, then make sure your product features and pricing match the expectations of your market. Make the right decisions for your product launch right from the start.
Customer purchase behavior
Find out the deeper emotions and reasons behind every purchase of your customers. Understand the major factors that contribute towards choosing a particular product over others. Focus group testing can be an effective method to understand consumer behavior better.
Segment your customers according to different personas and behaviors. Develop highly customized products and relevant advertising strategies for the right demographics. Make market segmentation easy by using the right sampling methods .
A/B product testing
Can’t choose between two marketing strategies? Identify exactly why one would work and the other wouldn’t. Make data-based decisions, instead of working on a trial and error basis.
Positively boost brand sentiments by better understanding how customers perceive your brand . Are they aware of your brand? What sentiments surround your brand? What do customers think of your brand?
Market trends and competition
Stay on top of your market by understanding what your customers need. Predict accurate market trends to serve the audience of the future, today. Proactive assessment is the best way to learn more about your competition and see where your product stands in the market. This gives you a head start and makes your company well-equipped to handle any challenges that lie ahead.
Website experience and usability
Identify whether your website is easy to understand and navigate. Achieve optimal customer retention and loyalty by improving your site’s web experience and usability.
Research your audience
Identify and gain more insights about niche markets around the world. Collect high-quality data from your targeted demographic through research audience panel services. Identify the sample size right for you and access a global audience for your diverse market research needs.
One product, many solutions.
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[Survey] Small Business Marketing Challenges and How to Overcome Them
Last year, the whole world changed. As everyone around the globe was impacted by COVID-19, small businesses everywhere had to face the change head-on. They had to mitigate shutdowns, new safety requirements, and a tough economic market.
We conducted a survey-based study to reveal the biggest marketing challenges that small businesses are now facing. In this post, you’ll find the survey results and we will take a look at how one of our agency partners successfully overcame some of these key challenges. Read on to get some actionable tips you can use when building a marketing strategy for your own small business or your SMB clients in 2021.
To better understand how recent challenges have impacted how small businesses market and advertise, we launched a multi-platform survey across Twitter and TypeForm.
We had 219 responses on TypeForm and 65 comments in our Twitter and LinkedIn polls. We had a diverse range of participants, giving us a well-rounded look at different types of business structures and how their marketing was impacted.
Hey, friends! We need your help again — we are working on a big study and would love to ask you to share your thoughts on this: What are the biggest marketing challenges small businesses face in 2021? Leave your comments to be featured! — Semrush (@semrush) September 22, 2021
After compiling all of the data, we grouped all answers into one of 14 different categories. We then followed up with a poll for our Semrush users, which asked them to identify the five biggest challenges they were impacted by.
- 52.5% of our survey’s respondents are small businesses that have fewer than 50 employees, 8.7% defined their businesses as “freelance,” and 21.5% were agencies.
- 34% of respondents said that the business owner is the person running marketing campaigns, 41.2% said they have one or several employees/dedicated in-house team running campaigns, 5.2% relied on an outside agency, and 2.6% worked with freelancers.
- The average self-identified marketing proficiency of respondents is 6.8, with “0” being “beginner” and “10” being “advanced.”
Top Challenges Revealed
Our survey showed that there are a handful of challenges impacting small-business marketing. These were the top challenges that small businesses faced, in descending order:
How One Agency Addressed These Challenges
After reviewing the results of the survey, we asked one of our agency partners to give us their best tips and practices they use when addressing the top challenges that our survey participants identified. This agency works with lots of small businesses to help build their digital brand presence. In fact, they are currently helping their client, a small Florida-based bakery, to increase their online visibility. We're sharing their story in the Semrush SEO Reality Show Series . Here’s what they had to say about these top-5 small business marketing challenges:
Challenge #1. Not Having Enough Time and Resources to Focus on Marketing
1. automate seo tasks with tools .
Anything can be successfully automated, should be. Automating parts of your content creation/content marketing strategy not only saves money, it also saves you time and frees small business owners up to wear all of the other hats that they typically do. When working with the bakery client the agency used powerful tools to automate a number of digital marketing tasks. This freed them (and by extension the client) up to tackle other important aspects of brand building.
2. Use templates that marketing professionals use
Using structured templates for different digitals marketing tasks, such as Competitor Analysis, Keyword Research, etc, allows small businesses (and agencies!) to deliver quality marketing materials on a consistent basis. Our agency partner is not an exception: the team uses a number of templates that we share through the Reality Show series so that other agencies and SMBs can easily replicate them.
[Competitor Analysis Template]
[Blog Research Template]
3. Delegate the critical, big, and technical tasks to professionals
Some technical tasks like Site Audits are better to delegate to SEO professionals. Technical website upgrades and data collection are also mission critical for digital marketing, even for small businesses. SEO agencies and other professionals can deploy their resources so you can focus on other parts of your business.
Challenge #2. Small Marketing Budget
While small or limited marketing budgets can pose a big challenge, our agency partner has a few recommendations to help you get the most bang for your buck:
- Invest in what’s already working
- Budget for SEO and know that lasting results can take time.
- Prioritize fixing your most critical marketing issues, first.
Our agency partner knew that their bakery client would benefit from a holistic Site Audit first, and then a website structure redesign second — so they did it in that order.
Challenge #3. Lack of Clear Marketing Strategy and Objectives
Without a clear and detailed plan, executing a successful digital marketing campaign can feel virtually impossible. Setting a step-by-step strategy and objectives will not only make the campaign easier to manage, but it can also lead to high rates of success and more conversions.
1. Prepare a foundation for your strategy
Know your offline and online competitors. Here’s how the agency is revealing real competitors for their bakery client.
2. Add SEO metrics to your marketing strategy
Adding SEO metrics to your strategy will give you a tangible way to measure the effectiveness of your digital marketing content and advertising. Our agency partner always collaborates with their client to collect and deliver metrics that matter to their business strategy. These metrics can always be added, adjusted, or removed to suit the client’s brand needs.
Challenge #4. Lead generation
1. use attractive lead generation forms.
By integrating impactful CTA buttons (with the form attached) to your website, you attract high-quality prospects, which have a bigger chance to be converted into real customers. Read this episode to learn how our agency partner implements these types of forms on their client’s website.
2. Consider creating a blog
Blog creation can be a great way to drive more organic traffic and attract potential leads to the website. Here’s how and why the agency creates a blog for its client.
Challenge #5. Lack of Digital Marketing Knowledge and Experience
Many small businesses aren’t sure where to start when it comes to digital marketing. Often, the data can be confusing or tough to access/digest. It can be hard to assign enough in-house resources to create a robust strategy. The agency identified three ways that a small business can tackle this problem:
1. Hire external professionals
Sometimes it takes a professional touch to really get your marketing strategy off the ground. Hiring an external resource/vendor often gives you the benefit of having an established, expert party look at your business goals to better align what you’re offering with what your customers' needs and pain points are. Depending on what your needs are, you might hire freelancers to help you craft high-quality, keyword-targeted content, or maybe you need to hire an agency to help create your entire outbound digital marketing strategy.
2. Always use a data-driven approach
If you do decide to approach your digital marketing strategy in-house, always use a data-driven approach. Data gives you objective information about what type of content, site structure, and other elements are working (or not working).
3. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
If you decide to approach digital marketing in-house (or with the help of occasional freelancers), you’ll be responsible for gathering and interpreting the data around your business’ marketing strategy. Don’t be afraid to try things and make mistakes! This is a normal and natural part of building a great strategy. Play around with different approaches and types of content and use the data you get to better inform your strategy.
Other Marketing Challenges
There were other small business marketing challenges that our audience experienced that may resonate with you and your small business:
- Finding effective marketing channels to invest budget — 37.4%
- Severe competition from dominant brands in the niche — 37%
- Unrealistic expectations of getting SEO results quickly — 35.2%
- Constant algorithm changes (Google and Social Media) — 34.2%
- Building a visible brand online — 32.4%
- Hiring and onboarding talent — 25.1%
- COVID-19 restrictions — 14.2%
- Retaining customers — 12.8%
- Issues related to online privacy — 6.8%
While a holistic approach to your marketing strategy may not be able to solve all of these problems, approaching the challenges above from a data-driven, strategic, expert-informed approach can have massive impacts on the success of your business, even in uncertain times.
If you’re struggling with your digital marketing for small business in 2021, know that you aren’t alone. Keep in mind that there are plenty of successful marketing strategies for small businesses that were built around tight budgets and a big learning curve. Taking one challenge at a time (and using our action times to overcome them!) can go a long way.
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20 Market Research Questions To Ask In Your Customer Survey
The primary reason you conduct any customer survey with market research questions is to make effective decisions that grow your business by selling more to both existing customers, as well as by acquiring new customers by increasing the effectiveness of your product/service to suit their needs better. But when you take even a closer look, we’re making these decisions because the main objective is to become the obvious choice for that ideal customer. For that to happen and to reach market research goals, you need to ask:
What are Market Research Questions?
Market research questions is a questionnaire that is answered by customers or potential consumers, to understand their perception and opinion on a given subject, typically pertaining to product or service feasibility, understanding consumer needs and interests, and pricing concepts.
For example: A customer survey on market research of an existing product line that focuses on the usefulness of specific features in a product line. Based on the feedback received from this survey, a business can now decide which features to invest and enhance/improve, and which features to relatively defocus/discontinue. This market research , therefore, enables a business to efficiently allocate resources based on real, data-oriented insights from their own customers.
A similar set of market research questions can also be sent to potential consumers of a product, to understand market absorption capability.
What Market Research Questions should I ask in my Customer Survey?
- Who is our ideal customer? These are typically demographic market research questions such as gender, education level, income level or location. You can expand these questions to find out your customer’s occupation or if your ideal customer is a parent, pet owner. Don’t skimp on demographics or psychographics . If anything, get really creative with them. You might consider conducting a survey with nothing but profiling questions that include where your customers shop, or where they prefer to eat. It’s critical to know as much as possible about your ideal customer so that you can begin focusing your marketing decisions around their preferences.
- What do they struggle with? Another root set of data that market researchers are searching for within their ideal customer is “what they struggle with.” What are the 5 to 7 frustrations that they are dealing with when it comes to interacting with our product or service? Suppose you are a golf accessories company and you ask your ideal customer what frustrates them about their golfing experience. In that case, you might get responses such as “expensive golf clubs getting wet during a rainstorm.” If you get enough of those responses, you may consider developing a golf accessory that protects golf clubs in the rain.
- What does your ideal customer really WANT? No matter how you phrase the market research questions (and there are countless creative formats) all we really want to know is what our customer will actually purchase as a solution. What is it that they WANT? Of course, they’re NOT going to say that they want something that doesn’t exist yet — in the 1960’s the average person would NOT have known that they wanted a microwave. They wanted hot food fast. One good way to get at these wants is to give your respondents some examples of product offerings and combinations and see how they rate them.
- What sets you apart from your competition? Competitive analysis and bench-marking are critical if you want to increase the profitability of your product and build your brand. An effective way to measure or identify differentiators or competitive advantage is to ask Customer Satisfaction questions . The key to asking these market research questions is getting the attributes right. For example “How important is it that your tires have a run-flat safety feature?” instead of asking “How important is it that your car has tires.” For example, A survey can be conducted by either Apple or Samsung to find out how satisfied are the customers with their products and what are the other features that the consumer prefers from the competitive brand. Using such data a company can incorporate features based on the demand and can also benchmark their features that the customers prefer. A Apple vs Samsung Survey Questions template can help to achieve the data required to compare their products with the competition and strategize accordingly. What benefits do your customers perceive? Because we all choose and purchase based on emotion — it’s important to understand specifically what emotional benefits our customers receive from our products and services. The more we connect with our customers on an emotional level and provide that benefit — the more likely they are to choose us. This is an ideal place to use matrix questions that rate the degree to which customers agree or disagree with a variety of “benefit” statements. Here is an example “I can count on Service X to pull me out of a bind.”
- Who is currently buying from us? A very important research metric to track is the “who” is currently buying a product or a service from you. Deriving a pattern from the current purchasing population, helps you target and market to a similar potential demographic. This also is an ideal place to use demographic questions extensively but it also helps if other factors like geographical metrics are tracked. You don’t want to be ignoring your existing customer base and also be smart and agile in attracting new business to your brand.
- Why are other people not buying from us? While it is imperative to know who is your potential customer or map your existing customer base, you need to find out who is not buying from you. This information is essential to understand if there are shortcomings in a product or service and at what milestone customers drop out of the purchasing process . This also helps to identify the way your business is conducted, if additional training is required to make a sale or if your product or service lacks in quality. Understanding why people are not buying from you also helps monitor if there is something fundamentally wrong with what you are offering to the masses.
- Who can buy from us in the future? It is a known fact that is about 10x more expensive to create a new customer rather than to maintain the one you currently have. That, however, is no reason not to aim for new business. It is therefore important to have a clear picture of your potential future business. Targeting potential customers, is a mix of customer demographics that have purchased from you in the past and a mix of demographics you advertise and market to. It is therefore important to have a well-rounded product or solution. For example, since your barbecue sauces and rubs are famous and widely used in the midwest does not mean they cannot be bought in the southern states.
- Why do people buy from you? What value or need does it fulfill? Customers only buy from you because of a perceived value. This value is either what you depict to potential customers or repeat customers have been privy to the value of your product or service. Customers also make a purchase because of the trust they have either in the product or service or the brand or sometimes even certain individuals. It is therefore important that you understand the value of your brand and stick to the morals and ethics of delivering high quality to ensure that the perceived and actual brand quotient is very high. The other reason why customers purchase from you is if their need is fulfilled by what you have on offer. This could either be a direct or an indirect need.
- What would make you a perfect brand? No brand can be perfect! But you can surely be close to perfect. What this means is everything about your product or service is easy to use, intuitive, is value for money, scalable and ancillary support is impeccable. All of this is obviously immaterial if the product does not solve a real problem or make life easier for the customer. Having a very high customer oriented focus gives your brand a positive ring and becomes increasingly the go-to brand. You can use a simple Net Promoter Score question to understand how referrable is your brand and who are the promoters and detractors of your brand.
- What single aspect about your brand makes it stand out and makes clients trust you? People buy from you or transact with you mostly when there is a high trust factor. Very rarely is the purchasing decision purely based on need or ease of access. To identify and build on that one factor that makes you a preferred buying choice over your competitors is very important. You can map preferred aspects of your brand to age, sex, geographical location , financial limitations etc. because each of those factors can appeal to your brand differently. It is important that you identify and fortify those aspects of your business. Your brand can also be preferred because of other factors like personnel, customer service, ethos and perception amongst peers, consumers and the society alike. Abercrombie & Fitch was a respected brand but lost a lot of market share and goodwill due to CEO’s words in one isolated incident. It takes lots of work and time to build trust but takes none to lose all of it!
- What is the best way to communicate with the kind of people you are trying to reach out to? What’s caused the downfall for a lot of brands is the inability to reach out to target customers despite their product or service being impeccable. Not knowing how to reach your target audience or potential customer makes all your hardwork go down the drain. For example, if a new life saving drug is making its way to the market, but medical professionals and doctors don’t know about it or how to administer it and its benefits, about 20 years of work goes down the drain. You need to identify the right channels and avenues to reach out to the people that will consume your product or service.
- What do customers make of your product and/or service line? There are a few brands that have one product or service and that rakes in the customers and money for them because of the nature of the product or service. But most brands aren’t this way! They would need to branch out into multiple products or services or very often, a mix of both. It is, therefore important to understand the value of your products and/or services. It is imperative to know if they solve a problem a customer has or make life easier for the customer or any other such reason. This helps in consolidating the customer base.
- What improvements could be made to your products or services to have a wider reach? A product or a service has never achieved the maximum number of customers it can get. There always is someone who could use your product or service; maybe not in the form that it currently is but there is scope to scale. This makes it so much more important to collect periodic feedback on what additions your current customer base would like to see in your brand and what can bring in new customers from your competitors. Chipping away at deadwood features and making increased usability tweaks increases the adoption and use of your product and service. For example, a retail store wants to promote the use of its self-service checkout systems. However, a lot of customers still are not opting for the system. There can be many reasons to why the customer is choosing not to use the system, like complex operation, no readability, or even slow speed of the system. To understand the reason, a Usability survey for self-service checkouts can be conducted. This will enable the store to gather first-hand information from the customers and make improvements in the system accordingly.
Learn More: User Interface Survey Template
- What is the right price to charge? Pricing a product or service is one of the most important aspects of your business. Pricing right can decide the revenue, brand perception, profitability and adoption of the product or service. Pricing too slow has a negative connotation and may increase in bringing in lower revenue. Pricing high gives the feeling of being elite and then the profitability and revenue hinge on the factors of per unit adoption rather than a very high adoption. Pricing just right is a myth – what someone finds cheap, someone else could find expensive. Where someone finds your product or service value for money, others may find it exorbitant. Hence, it is important to collect extensive feedback from your existing and potential customers about what they think is an ideal price to play. It is also important to conduct due diligence on competitors to map how they price versus the service and product features they provide. These factors will help you come close to an “ideal price” to charge.
- What is the vision for the brand? A vision for a brand dictates the level the brand aspires to be and wants to scale up to be. Apple is now a preferred phone because the vision was to be an experience, not a device. The device is the means to ensuring that vision. They wanted to make the ecosystem so robust that any device you use, that familiarity and ease of use is standardized but also stonewall easy. Despite being expensive and facing ridicule during early days due to the ecosystem being different, they are now a one trillion behemoth, more than the GDP of some countries, due to having a vision for the brand.
- What is the way to ensure you reach that vision? A vision is easy to have but tough to follow through on. This is because your vision may see many roadblocks and may not be the current flavor of the market, but it is the right thing to stick with it. Innovate in your product and service lines by taking into consideration what your customers want and need and items they themselves don’t know that they need. Despite enduring hardships, if you stick to your vision, it is easier to use that as a launchpad for being an immaculate and preferred brand.
- What should the brand branch out into to avoid stagnation or imitation? While launching a product or service, it’s essential to understand where your competitors stand on the same product type or service line. How soon can they catch up to you and imitate your service or product? On the other hand, stagnation brings the ultimate demise of a brand, product, or service line. With little innovation and competitors saturating the market by imitating your product or service line, you’ll soon see your customer base dwindle. To ensure your customers don’t drop out, the key question to ask is, “What next?”. The best way to innovate or bundle your product or service is to understand what your customers struggle with and what value they are looking for. For example, Sony is known for its PlayStations, but competitors like Xbox don’t take long to catch up to their new products. How Sony does manage to stay ahead of the market is by constantly branching into new products and services.
- What bundled service or product you can offer in conjunction with yours? Good partnerships are hard to come by, strategic ones are even harder. This question tackles two of your problems, how to offer something new to your customers and how to reduce competitors in market. Your bundled service or product though has to make sense to the use, should complement your brand and cannot be an operational and logistical nightmare for your brand which then makes it counter-productive. Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram to consolidate on social images and short content rich video, is a strategic initiative to increase customer base as well as reduce competition at the same time. The key to building strong brand partnerships is to ensure your vision and product values align. Summing up, offering a bundled service or product in partnership will not only retain the existing customer base but also attract and increase new customers.
No matter why you are conducting a survey, you’ll find these 20 questions at the core of “WHY” you want to know. Remember, your respondents will read or spend time with absolutely ANYTHING as long as they are at the center. Be sure to keep these 20 questions in mind when creating your survey and everyone involved will save time, aggravation and money.
Beyond these 20 market research questions, here are 350+ Market Research Templates for you to use completely free!
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10 Most Effective Marketing Strategies for Small Business
August 19, 2017
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There’s so much written about digital marketing tactics that it’s hard to know where to start. It’s especially true if you are a small business owner without a marketing department or a lot of digital experience.
It’s even more problematic if you run a service business. The old days of sending brochures and cold calling are dying away. Digital has made it easier for customers to find the information they need online, and most are making purchase decisions before they ever make a single phone call or fill out a contact form.
Digital is not only creating the problem, but it’s also making it harder for small business owners to find the solution. As customers are increasingly present online, you must reach them where they are.
But, it’s so easy for anyone and everyone to put information online. As a result, it’s also increasingly impossible to find good information about which marketing tactics to leverage first. There’s just too much out there, with lots of approaches and varying degrees of success.
What makes sense for your small business? What actually works? And where do you start?
There will always be nuances that are specific to your industry. But having worked across countless categories and businesses, I can tell you with 100% certainty that there are common effective strategies no matter what your small business provides.
The following marketing strategies for small business are just that. They’re the best and the most important. If you run a small business or provide services to customers, you must have these marketing strategies in place. And, the order of them is important .
If you are starting out or are currently doing less, start at the beginning. The first few are the most essential, and each of the strategies builds upon each other as you go. Get the most important things in place so you can reap the full benefits later.
Social media is a good example. Small business owners usually think they need it right away. But you don’t need social media right out of the gate.
If you are already up and running and trying some of these, move down the list to complement what may already be working for you. Or look at the priority order and identify where you might have a gap.
So, here are the most effective marketing strategies for small business, in order. Use them to generate a new marketing idea for your small business today.
Note: Some links on this page may be affiliate links. I only recommend products and services that I personally know, have used, trust and recommend.
MARKETING STRATEGY 1) IDENTITY AND BRANDING
Steps you can take : If you are just starting out, then you are in the best position to pick a strategic name now. Think about what you want to communicate, then ideate related words, symbols and metaphors that could be used as a brand name. See this article for a range of naming techniques.
If you already have a name, you have a few options for your visual identity (logo, colors, business cards, etc.). You can crowd source on the cheap through sites like Crowdspring.com , you can hire a trusted freelancer (higher quality, but higher cost), or you can hire an agency (highest cost, not necessarily highest quality).
I recommend hiring a good freelancer. It’s worth the extra money, but not as costly as hiring an agency. Expect to pay at least $500-1,500 for good work, sometimes more.
Favorite tools : Once you have a brand guide that outlines how your brand should look, you can apply it yourself to your documents using simple tools like Powerpoint/Keynote, Adobe PDF Writer, Canva.com , and Pixlr Editor . If you need a freelancer recommendation, use the contact form to write me a note and I’ll send you some options.
MARKETING STRATEGY 2) FOUNDATIONAL WEBSITE
Well, I highly recommend that everyone have a good website. It’s the business card of today. And the first thing any potential customer will do is Google you and look for your site. You never have a second chance to make a first impression.
Of all the marketing strategies for small business, a website is the most foundational and critical puzzle piece.
A website gives you a place to send customers for more information, grab free traffic via search engines, drive people from social media, write helpful content that paints you as an expert (what I’m doing right now), upload ebooks and digital brochures, capture and collect email addresses… and that’s just scratching the surface.
A lot of people who don’t have websites usually try to rationalize it in some way. They convince themselves they don’t need it, but more often than not they are unsure of how to build one or think it will take too much money or time. So they skip it because it’s not worth the perceived headache.
I’m here to tell you that you do need one. In fact, most of the marketing tactics that follow in this article are predicated on having a website. And, they are not as hard to build or expensive as you think.
I don’t know a single lick of code and I built the entire website you are reading right now all by myself. It cost me very little, and there are plenty of software options that make it easy.
Steps you can take : First, go buy your domain name. There’s a monthly/annual fee to own it that usually isn’t bad. If the domain name is taken, think of similar ones you can use instead by adding words to the beginning or end of it. Don’t pay huge fees or ransoms to get a specific name.
Second, sign up for web hosting. This is where another company hosts your web page on their servers and manages serving it up to customers for you. This is often the same company that you buy the domain name from.
Third, you need content management software (CMS). This is what you’ll use to both create and update the website over time. Different CMSs have different advantages and there are numerous comparisons around the web. Do a little reading and pick one.
Most CMS packages come with a certain number of free templates you can pick from and fill in with all of your content. But if you want something a little more unique or customized, you can pay $50-100 for a premium theme.
That’s it. With those three things in place you can open up your software and begin typing/uploading content. It should cost you less than $500 upfront for everything you need, and then annually less than $200.
Favorite tools : GoDaddy for domain name and website hosting, WordPress CMS (which GoDaddy can actually install for you), Themeforest , X Theme
MARKETING STRATEGY 3) SEO/LOCAL SEARCH
There are many factors that influence your search engine ranking including, but not limited to, keywords, content quality, links to/from your site, mobile-friendliness, security and user experience.
Local search optimization is an added layer for those targeting smaller geographic areas (e.g., Cincinnati plumbers). You still need to do all the SEO activities that national companies do, but with the added steps of claiming and optimizing your listings (e.g., Google My Business , Yelp , Angie’s List , etc.). Local optimization also means paying attention to online reviews.
Steps you can take : Claim your free Google Analytics and Search Console accounts so you can see the amount of traffic you are getting, where it’s coming from, and which keywords you are ranking for.
Using Google Keyword Planner , SEMrush or a similar tool, research keywords that are relevant to your audience but that have lower competition. Then tweak your content to target these keywords. This means editing your website and/or producing posts/articles that answer questions your audience is searching for.
Other more advanced steps like link-building appear in the remaining strategies below.
Favorite tools : Google Keyword Planner , Google Analytics , Google Search Console , Google My Business , SEMrush
MARKETING STRATEGY 4) BUILD EXPERTISE (& KEYWORDS)
Great content means credibility for you and added value for potential customers. It can also be leveraged on social networks and in advertising (strategies that appear later on this list).
Steps you can take : The one thing you must do before you begin writing is to research customer problems and questions. One way to do this was mentioned in #3–keyword research. Use a keyword planning tool to develop a priority list of keywords that your audience is using in their searches. Then generate ideas for articles, ebooks, white papers and digital brochures based on the priority keywords on your list.
For example, if you sell dog-walking services you might find that there are a lot of searches for best large dog leash . Then you could write a post about why a certain type of dog leash is the best and mention your 5 recommended leashes that owners of larger dogs should consider.
Another way to learn about customer problems and questions is to read online forums. Sites like Reddit and Quora are great for this kind of research. Start reading what your audience reads. Sign up for the same blogs and news sites that they do.
Then start writing.
Use a format that is easiest for you. If you are using WordPress , it’s surprisingly easy to add a blog to your site and put your articles and posts up. Or if you are best writing in Microsoft Word, consider creating an ebook or white paper. If you are comfortable in PowerPoint, consider doing something graphic or make a slideshow. Or, pull out your iPhone and make a video.
It’s up to you. As long as you add value for your audience and answer their questions.
Favorite tools : Reddit , Quora , WordPress , iStock
MARKETING STRATEGY 5) BUILD A LIST
Once you have a list, you have people waiting to hear from you. They want you to keep them up to date with what you’re working on. They want you to answer their questions. And, when the time is right, you can reach out to them with special offers or promotions.
You can build a list of potential customers who are raising their hands at you… for free . So, why wouldn’t you?
Steps you can take : There are two key things to think about here. One is how you’ll collect the list. The other is what you’ll do with it to keep your audience engaged.
You could simply buy a list to get started. This is an old school approach that is still an option. However, it’s typically unproductive, lower in quality, and presents ethical challenges. Plus, when a bunch of people unsubscribe or hit the junk button on you, you can get penalized or banned (yes, services like Gmail and Yahoo Mail can blacklist you). Not good.
It’s better to leverage your website traffic and add a couple of simple and free tools. You can sign up for an email service provider that will manage both the list and your email campaigns for you. Examples include Mailchimp , Aweber and Constant Contact . They typically have free plans to get you started.
Then you just need a simple tool on your website that collects information from visitors (e.g., through a subscription form) and then automatically sends it over to your email service provider. Examples of these tools include Mailchimp , MailMunch , OptinMonster and ConvertPlug . There are numerous others.
So, create a list, create a collection form, and watch your list grow.
Once you have a list, you can keep them engaged by simply sending them a regular update. This could be a monthly or bi-weekly newsletter that you write. Or it could be as simple as having your email provider automatically send an update to your list whenever you upload a new blog post ( Mailchimp can easily do this). Then, the simple act of writing blog posts also automatically updates your subscribers and keeps them engaged and coming back to your site.
What you don’t want to do is collect subscribers and then do nothing. If they don’t hear from you for a while and then you hit them up out of the blue, the results aren’t good and it seems really spammy.
Favorite tools : Mailchimp , Convertplug , WordPress
MARKETING STRATEGY 6) CREATE LEAD MAGNETS
A simple digital piece is enough, and you may have already created something you can repurpose here (e.g., one of the ebooks or white papers you wrote for #4 above).
You can also use your lead magnet in advertising. By advertising a free guide on Google or Facebook, you can generate a large number of clicks and build your contact list all at the same time.
Steps you can take : Start simple and make a downloadable PDF. It can be a helpful checklist, a PDF print of one of your articles, slides or even a video. Think of something that would complement your article topics (see the checklist at the bottom of this article as an example).
You can also include a web link or your own contact information at the bottom/end of your lead magnet to help drive potential customers back to your website for more information.
Here’s an example of an article I wrote that I then converted into a nice ebook lead magnet for download.
Favorite tools : Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint, Adobe Acrobat (or your computer’s built-in PDF writer)
MARKETING STRATEGY 7) USE SOCIAL
Social can be a good source of traffic and exposure for your business and/or website. Especially once you’ve completed the previous 6 strategies. Now, when someone visits your site from social media, they’ll see a great brand, with great expert content, and gladly give you their information to learn more.
And you can generally consider it free, although there are also paid options to increase your reach on these social channels.
Steps you can take : The vast majority of small business owners I talk to know they should be using social. But the approach you should use is where it gets a little bit murky.
Most small business owners try to create social profiles and feeds on every social network. Then they aren’t sure what to post and have trouble posting regularly.
I recommend a few major steps that you need to work through:
- Where’s your customer? —If you are honest with yourself, your customer is not on every social channel. Therefore, you shouldn’t be either. If you are a B2B company, then chances are your customers are on LinkedIn, Facebook, or both. If you are a consumer business then you are probably going to do pretty well with Facebook or Instagram. Do a quick survey of your customers and ask them what they use.
- Start with one and commit —Pick one. Don’t spread yourself thin. You need to spend some time initially to build your following and engage with people. Using one channel effectively is much better than using multiple channels ineffectively. And you have to commit to posting regularly or it’s pointless for people to follow you.
- Automate —Initially you’ll create a lot of content to fill your feed. You can mix your own original content with curated content that you think will be useful to your audience. But, don’t waste your time individually scheduling every single post. Use a tool that does it for you automatically (e.g., Hootsuite or Buffer ). It will save you tons of time.
- Continue to engage —Once your social account is humming along and you are seeing some initial traffic, don’t disappear. You still need to personally engage with your audience and respond to comments. Your feed should not just talk at your audience, but instead have an ongoing conversation.
Favorite tools : Facebook (consumer and small business B2B), LinkedIn (B2B), Buffer (easy to use automation)
MARKETING STRATEGY 8) COMPLEMENT WITH PAID
Photo Source: iStock/Getty
What it is : To this point we’ve given you marketing strategies for small business that don’t cost much, if anything. But once you have an established website and social account, it’s time to take it up a notch and add a paid advertising layer.
Paid media is exactly what it sounds like. You are no longer in the free traffic realm. You pay money, and someone else serves your information/ad up to their audience for you.
You’ll often discover that certain sources of traffic already work better than others, and then you’ll invest your additional budget in those specific channels.
For example, you are still relying on free traffic, but you notice that the bulk of your traffic and conversions (using Google Analytics, mentioned earlier) are coming from Facebook. Well, that’s a clear indication that you should consider a paid campaign on Facebook (you’ll likely get a good return on your investment).
Steps you can take : What are your strongest sources of organic traffic? Start there. Set up an ad account, tie it to your credit card, and set a budget. You can sometimes set a monthly or even daily maximum. For example, on Bing you can set up your account to only spend $2 or $5 per day. Bing will pace out the spending for you.
Next, you need to decide what ad to run. This should be based on your goal. Do you want to simply drive clicks to your site? Do you want more followers (not recommended after your initial startup)? Do you want email addresses? The answers to those questions will determine the creative copywriting and image you’ll use. Leverage existing content, ebooks and posts where possible.
Favorite tools : Google Adwords , Bing Ads , Facebook Business , LinkedIn Ads
MARKETING STRATEGY 9) BUILD LINKS
Backlinks are very important for two reasons:
- Backlinks send traffic to your site.
- Google uses backlinks (both the number and quality) as a signal for how high to rank your website in its search results.
Steps you can take : There are a number of ways to generate backlinks. Perhaps the easiest is to use social networks like LinkedIn and Pinterest. Not only can you posts pictures and links back to your site, but some of these channels are also picked up by Google’s bots when scanning for links. While social linking is easy, other methods below are even more effective.
Another approach is to engage on community sites like Quora, Reddit and Medium. However, you need to be careful that you do not spam these forums and sites. Be a member that adds value first, and then if a link or two is helpful to the community, please share.
Guest posting is one of the most effective marketing strategies for small business, but is also a more time-consuming approach. If you land a post on an already popular site (e.g., a guest article on Inc.com), you are not only guaranteed strong traffic, but Google will weigh those links much more heavily and move you up the rankings.
Start smaller if you are new to this. What niche sites or blogs might your audience read? Can you write a guest article there?
Lastly, an indirect method is to get your content shared more broadly with the hopes that those who are interested in it will link to it. Quuu is a good example. For a small fee ($30-50) they will distribute your content through a very broad network of social media feeds. You can quickly get other people to share your content this way.
Favorite tools : Quora , Growth Hackers , Reddit , Medium , guest posting in smaller targeted communities
MARKETING STRATEGY 10) PARTNERSHIPS AND REFERRALS
Essentially, you identify other businesses and organizations that are somehow related to or complement your own offerings. You then come up with mutually beneficial ways to partner up and help each other.
Steps you can take : You could offer referral fees or incentives to potential business partners or even your own customers. For example, if you are a dermatologist, you can partner up with a family physician and refer customers to each other.
You can sign up for an affiliate network and offer a commission on referred sales. Clickbank , Rakuten , and CJ Affiliates are good examples.
Or you can partner with a trade or industry organization to sponsor, speak or present. Many times you’ll also get access to attendee lists (bonus!).
Some of these marketing ideas are digital, but many aren’t. That’s why they are more time consuming, and also why I’ve listed this as #10 on the list. It’s good to invest more time in these once you’ve gotten the other digital elements in place.
Favorite tools : CJ Affiliates , trade organizations/conferences where you can connect with potential partners and solicit speaking engagements
USE THE MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR SMALL BUSINESS NOW
There you have it. 10 of the most effective marketing strategies for small business. It’s a lot to take in at once and by now you surely have a lot of new marketing ideas floating around in your head.
So, where do you start?
At the top.
Do them in order and start at the beginning. These do not have to happen overnight. Just tackle them one at a time. It may take you a month to nail down your branding. Then another month to get the website where you want it to be.
You might spend a couple of weeks on your keyword strategy and then a couple of months writing good content.
The point isn’t to get all of this stuff done quickly. It’s to tackle each marketing strategy methodically and in order so that at the end of a given year, you’re able to take your small business to an entirely new level.
You might also like:
- Ultimate Guide to Writing a Brand Positioning Statement
- 6 Questions to Optimize Your Marketing Funnel (with template)
- Complete Marketing Plan Template (Word) to Make Planning Easier
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Tell us your favorite marketing strategies for small business in the comments below. Or leave us a question that you want answered.
Kevin Namaky is CEO at the Gurulocity Brand Management Institute , a marketing education company that trains and consults for notable brand teams including Kimberly-Clark, Scotts Miracle-Gro, Bolthouse Farms and Gorilla Brands. Kevin is a featured instructor for the American Marketing Association, lectures at the IU Kelley School of business, and has been featured in Ad Age, Forbes, Fast Company and the CMO Council. Previously Kevin worked for 20 years in the corporate and agency world growing notable brands. Follow/connect with Kevin on LinkedIn , TikTok and Twitter .
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