Launching a business is hard work.
Building an Effective marketing strategy can be surprisingly simple.
Agencies love to talk about all the different marketing elements we’re missing and how they could help us.
Agencies have their place, and working with one inevitably occurs in every successful company's growth cycle.
For now, if just starting out, you can be greatly successful without dropping thousands of dollars on a digital marketing strategy.
To save you loads of time, headaches and money, here's a simple and effective three-step formula to get the ball rolling, begin driving traffic, validate your product, and generate sales.
STEP 1: ESTABLISH AN EDUCATED STARTING POINT
We covered this topic in depth in Marketing Strategy: How to Choose the Best Social Network.
The gist of it is, before we spend any money on AdWords or Facebook ads, we should first see what works best for our competition. There's no need to reinvent the wheel.
Here’s a helpful excerpt from the article. When you have a minute, click over to read the entire piece here.
Write down your top five competitors (or websites most similar to yours).
Then go to SimilarWeb and run a free analytics report on each. Scroll down to the section titled “Social” and make note of their top three referral sites.
Analyze the top referral sites for each competitor and record the data into a simple spreadsheet like the one below. On a scale of 1 to 3 rank the top three referral sites for each competitor:
Click here to download this free template.
Once you've recorded the top three referral sites for each competitor go ahead and tally their overall scores.
The platform with the highest score tells you where to focus your marketing strategy.
Depending on how much time you have available you may choose to focus on the top-ranked platform, top two platforms, top three platforms, etc.
Keep in mind, what works for someone else might not necessarily work as effectively for you, however, this strategy will (at a minimum) give you an educated starting point.
Alright, moving on...
STEP 2: focus on effectiveness NOT popularity
A common mistake among new companies and inexperienced marketers is their gravitation towards the most heavily trafficked and popular digital marketing channels.
“More people = better result, right?"
Instagram is huge with over 800 million monthly active users and some of the highest engagement rates among social platforms. However, does it make sense for an accounting firm to market themselves on Instagram?
Absolutely not, here’s why…
Inexperienced marketers often make the mistake of not considering the mental state of their prospective user while the user is engaged with the platform in question.
What does this mean?
It means when determining the most effective marketing platform we must put ourselves in the mindset of the prospective customer while they are using each platform.
People don’t go on Instagram in search of financial advice or to plan their future. They go on Instagram for cognitive relief – at the end of a busy day when they're tired and want to wind down – to see entertaining images and videos.
They're not in a personal finance mindset and are much less likely to engage with content or convert into paying customers.
What's the solution?
Instead, we focus on platforms where users are most likely to be in the mindset which relates most accurately to our product or service.
In the case of the accounting firm LinkedIn would be a fantastic option!
While on LinkedIn, prospects are thinking about their future, they are thinking about career and money.
They are far more likely to be receptive to personal finance messaging, resulting in a much higher conversion rate.
We must always put ourselves in the mindset of the prospective user at the time they are using the platform in question – different platform = different mindset.
STEP 3: FOCUS ON what REALLY MATTERS – REVENUE
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: 'Likes' won't pay the bills.
Anyone can like something on Facebook and forget about it 8-seconds later. Worse yet, if Zuckerberg decides to suspend our account, we’re screwed.
Every digital marketing campaign MUST drive back to a single landing page with a single signup form. We must be capturing user data and building a client list.
Likes are pure vanity and don’t translate into revenue.
If people don’t (at minimum) commit to signing up with their email address they simply aren’t serious or interested in our product and should be forgotten – they aren’t our ideal customer, nor did they ever intend to become our customer.
We must forget about the window-shoppers, and instead, do this...
Ideally, our signup form should include some type of incentivized deposit or early-bird discount requiring customers to buy-in and put their money where their mouths are.
If things don't work out we can always issue a refund.
Perhaps a 50% discount or BOGO (buy-one-get-one-free).
The key point is: getting any amount of money from our customers up front not only 100% validates your idea, it will result in far greater engagement rates for your product down the road.
Once a user commits their hard-earned cash they now have a vested interest in using and supporting YOUR product.
And the BEST part...
They’ll want to validate their purchase decision by speaking highly of your product/service which results in the greatest type of marketing imaginable – free word-of-mouth referrals!
Plus, having a paid customer list is an ENORMOUS selling point when pitching investors or trying to raise funds for your company.
For example, if you have 5,000 people on your product waitlist who’ve each committed $20, that’s $100,000 of pre-sales IN YOUR POCKET! – an incredible leverage opportunity when pitching investors on the validity of your business.
Starting a business is hard work, however, digital marketing doesn’t have to be.
Keep it simple.
First, analyze the competition to see what works best.
There are plenty of free websites like Quantcast, SimilarWeb, SEMrush, and MOZ which pull traffic analytics.
See where your competitors receive the bulk of their inbound traffic to establish an educated starting point. Test, optimize and repeat.
Second. Simply because a marketing platform is popular doesn’t mean it’ll necessarily work well for my business.
Think of the optimal mindset in which our prospective customer is most likely to convert into a paying customer. Then, focus on the marketing channels which align most accurately with that particular mindset.
Marketing is a purely psychological game.
If someone is mentally tired after a long day and turns to Instagram for the sweet relief of fuzzy puppy pictures, they likely won't be receptive to an ad for accounting services.
If, however, they’re on LinkedIn searching for a job and worried about money for their financial future, you've hit a BULLSEYE! Always stack the odds in your favour.
Finally, although tempting, having 10,000 Likes on our Facebook page does not equal revenue.
All our marketing efforts must funnel back to the same end-goal: building a customer list and driving sales.
Revenue is the only metric which matters in determining the success of a company. Likes won’t pay the bills!
Better yet, if a product has yet to launch, we can build a paid waitlist.
This not only generates additional revenue to finalize your alpha testing, it garners HUGE leverage and increases the odds of success when pitching investors in fundraising rounds.