From our friends at SCORE Cape Cod and the Islands
The pundits are still assessing how the world changed during the pandemic. How will our businesses change and how have our customers changed? We’re about to find out! But there is one major trend from the pandemic that we know won’t go away–online marketing. It’s grown at a ferocious rate and shows absolutely no signs of slowing down. For consumers, it is far and away the #1 way they learn about a restaurant, a service, a new store, a product. It’s the way we form our impressions and eventually make our decisions. Testimonials are king as customers trust them more than an ad, brochure or other communication, even if they are from someone they don’t know. Consumers want to work with brands that are strong, that recognize them, that engage with them and that they are excited to be with.
Unfortunately, online marketing is also the area where many business owners struggle—it’s new, it can be overwhelming and it takes time. But it doesn’t have to be that way if you take a strategic approach to your online efforts. Two important steps to take before you do anything:
- Know what you want consumers to take away from your online content. What does your brand stand for and how do you best communicate that?
- Dig into the numbers so that you understand how your customers use social media, what types of content resonate best with them and what platforms they prefer. Spend your time and your money wisely.
While online has not gone away, we are seeing significant changes in best practices. And the good news? A lot of these changes make it easier for business owners to run a strong communications effort. Try some of these hints:
Snackable Content: this is easy to consume content, meaning that it’s likely more visual, fewer words, easily sharable. This is content that immediately resonates with your customers—it’s the content they share and it’s the content that will help get your name out there. So it might be an amazing food shot from a restaurant or a unique new product or an exceptional result from a service such as a hair salon, a landscaper or even a happy bank customer. What’s that visual or short message that best captures your unique benefit? No need for long explanatory copy.
Less Is More: pre-pandemic, we were all overwhelmed by the onerous task of posting on Facebook and Instagram numerous times/week, on Twitter numerous times/day or trying to decide if we should venture onto TikTok or LinkedIn. Today consumers are coming out of online overload and responding more to those brands with fewer, better online messages. So, better schedule messaging to highlight a particular service, item, event—what are the items that best encompass your brand—rather than being out there every day just to be there.
Keep It Real: A conversational tone is so much better. It encourages feedback, questions, comments—all that interaction and engagement that you want. Remember: you need to engage with your customers/potential customers. Talk to them!
We Love Video: this is not new. It has just become even more critical. Find a way to make your phone your video camera that is ready for anything. Or hire some of the great young videographers we have here on the Cape to help out. Video allows you to demo a product, show how your chef makes a dish, it lets a customer talk about you. It lets viewers into your world, Customers want to be part of your business.
Online marketing does have some great benefits:
- Nothing is forever. If you’re taking the time each week to look at your analytics on Facebook or Google, you quickly see what’s working and what’s not working. Not working? Change it. Play with it until you see patterns of success. You’ll learn so much!
- There is help out there. If you’re still feeling like you’re over your head, maybe it’s time to bring in a digital agency. We know it sounds expensive but not so if you consider two factors—the business you’re not getting because you’re not marketing online or the cost of the time that you spend trying to figure out how to do all this and still do it poorly. Looking at it from that angle, an agency is a bargain. There are so many excellent agencies popping up on the Cape. Talk to a few about your needs and what you can afford. It may be a small effort but if it’s effective, the results will build your bottom line. Go for it.
If you need more help with your marketing efforts or identifying the right agency, contact SCORE Cape Cod & the Islands. Happy to help!