You’ve started a business. You have a product or a service, and you’re excited to share it with the world. But now the question comes up, how do you actually do that? Small business marketing can be tricky, especially for entrepreneurs without previous experience in marketing. After all, you’re making a brand for yourself and your business at the same time. That means you have to choose who to please. Making this entrepreneurial dynamic even more difficult is the lingo. It’s hard to know the look & feel of your brand or what content marketing is if you’ve never heard of it! To help you along the way, here’s a high-level overview of the marketing terms you’ll need to know:
- Market Research: Before delving too deeply into your message, you need to understand your audience. Market research helps you gather information about consumers, including their needs, preferences, and lifestyles. Once you understand these fundamentals, you can approach your market to validate your business, making sure at every step of the way your business, brand, and messages relate to your most important stakeholders.
- Branding: This is what makes the difference between calling Nike “Nike” versus “athletic store.” A company’s unique name, logo, colors, and – most importantly – wording around those items help consumers understand what makes it fundamentally different from the competition. It tells them what your company does and why they should trust you. When designing your brand, you’re designing the first impression you give. And as we know, first impressions mean a lot.
- Traditional Advertising: Traditional advertising is a somewhat targeted, broad reach option for business. Think of posters that you’ve seen in a metro station, billboards you’ve seen along the highway, or radio commercials you hear while driving. These channels offer limited ability to choose exactly who will see your message, but will likely help your message be seen by more people. Traditional media typically include Out-Of-Home (billboards, posters, etc.), Print media (newspapers, magazines, etc.), and Broadcast Media (TV, Radio, etc.).
- Digital Marketing: Digital marketing encompasses the entire world of seeing words and images in electronic format. In contrast to traditional advertising, digital marketing involves almost infinite options for tailoring content and targeting very specific users or groups. Under this umbrella term, small businesses should consider their website design and accompanying search engine optimization (SEO) strategies, as well as the rapidly growing channels our audiences spend their time on, like social media, email, online magazines, Google search, etc.
- SEO: Search engine optimization is a series of strategies and practices that help your brand appear in online search engine results for specific keywords. To understand what we mean, consider what you look for in Google. For example, you may have searched “What is marketing?” Search engine optimization at the most fundamental level helps you make sure that your company appears when someone searches for this term. To delve more deeply through how to understand what customers are searching for and how to respond, check out industry expert Moz.
- Content Marketing: You may have noticed that companies are becoming increasingly focused on providing content to their communities. This practice, content marketing, focuses on creating and curating useful information for consumers without asking for anything in return. By doing so, brands begin to build a level of credibility and trust with their markets, becoming a preferred partner for when those customers make a purchase.
- Social Media Marketing: With the pervasiveness of social media in consumers’ everyday lives, marketers would be remiss not to take advantage of these high-traffic platforms. Social media marketing is how businesses gain brand popularity and traffic through social media. Most of these platforms (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.) offer marketers the opportunity to target their messages to specific demographics, helping us to test our strategies and find our ideal consumers.
- Email Marketing: Sending a message directly to a consumer can be a great way to get your voice heard, and email marketing allows just that. This practice is harder than it sounds, though, because you’ll want your email recipients to open the email, click on your calls-to-action within it, and become customers. To do so, you’ll need to test your language, understand your market, and continually provide new information.
- Marketing Automation: As you can see, marketing can take over your entire business if you let it. For small businesses, learning how to do this well without sacrificing your business is a must. Marketing automation might be the right choice for you. The term refers to a practice of using software to take out the repetitive tasks of marketing. However, it’s easy to go too far in this direction. Your small business will need to find the balance between human and technology in your marketing practices.