Did you know a whopping 4 out of 5 businesses reportedly don’t have a business plan (mybusiness, 2018)? This raised so many questions in our minds, including:
- What would happen if a large competitor moved into their market tomorrow?
- How would they fix a sudden nosedive in sales or bookings?
- Could they stay afloat if their online reputation took a massive hit (it happens)?
You get our point.
Marketing strategies aren’t just for large businesses looking to get even bigger. In hindsight, as a small business owner is normally lacking on time and spare funds, being organised in your marketing is more crucial for you than anyone. But where do you start? Do you handle the problems you’re seeing now or look for long-term solutions?
Both short and long-term marketing strategies should have their place in your plan. This guide will take you through the essential marketing tactics you need to get started on now, and keep in your back pocket for when you need them most.
Short-Term Marketing Strategies
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
There are more than 2 billion searches being run through Google every single day (Internet Live State, 2019). Search engine marketing (SEM) lets you target audiences who are looking for products, services or search terms related to your business, putting you exactly where they’re searching.
The best part is, if you setup your ads correctly, you can start seeing results as soon as they go live. If your sales or bookings are in a slump period, SEM could be the pick-me-up you need. As the ads start and stop when you say, they are considered a short-term marketing solution.
Learn more about SEM in our Who, What, When, Where and Why guide.
Pay-per-click (PPC) ads are exactly what they sound like—you only pay for the ad when someone clicks on it to visit your website, landing page or contact information. The amount you pay is dependent on the quality of your ad, the keyword your targeted and a few other factors. So, you could pay $0.05 for a click or $5.00+.
Again, seeing a good return on investment is dependant on knowing how to set up your ads correctly. If you’re not seeing the results you want, it’s worth speaking to a PPC specialist (Localsearch PPC Services).
Have you ever been searching for something online—let’s say party dresses—and a few hours later you start seeing ads for party dresses? This is the magic of remarketing.
Businesses can target customers who have already visited their website or been searching for similar products or services to theirs. By targeted people who are already actively engaging in buying, you’re more likely to convert the sale.
SEM is all about putting your ads in the right place at the right time, including on other people’s websites and apps. Display advertising puts your ad in these very places, using images and videos to lure people into your website, landing page or wherever you want them to go.
Again, you have control over who sees your ad and when. This makes it easy to give your sales a boost when you need it, such as during competitive or quite sales times.
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Who doesn’t love a good offer. If you’ve ever wanted to test how many people you can have on your website at once, unleashing a short-term offer is the perfect way. Being strategic with when you run offers can boost your sales and also help you build your email subscriber list (sign-up for an exclusive discount!).
When is the best time to run offers?
It all depends on what industry you’re in. For example, an office supplies and furniture store may target the month leading up to tax time (hello refunds!) while a florist may want to stand out around Valentine’s Day and wedding season.
You may also want to run offers for people to use on return to your business. While you may be tempted to add a card to the person’s package or email out a discount code the day after they buy, don’t be afraid to think outside the box a little. One strategy used by an online beauty supplies store is to email two months after purchase with a message asking if they’re close to the bottom of the bottle. “Why yes, I am running out,” thinks the shopper. Kaching!
Promotional Events (Such as Conventions)
Setting up a stand or sponsoring an expo or convention is a great way to reach new customers, especially if you pair it with an exclusive offer. This is considered a short-term tactic as you can only be there for the length of the expo or convention. However, if you integrate other short-term strategies, you can reap the benefits for months to come by gathering social media followers and direct-marketing contact.
Do people still go to expos in 2019? Well, if the average of 15,000 people who attend a particular Gold Coast caravan and camping convention are anything to go by, then yes, yes they do. Then there’s the 60,000+ visitors across the three days of The Arnold Classic Expo in Melbourne each year.
Long-Term Marketing Strategies
A Well Designed & Developed Website
Consider your website a salesperson who is working around the clock, 365 days a year. Unless you stop paying your hosting or unpublish your website, it’s online for life, and if it’s built correctly, bringing you new customers.
What to consider when building a website:
- Is it search engine ready?
- Is it optimised for users?
- Is it easy to use on mobile and tablet as well as desktop?
- Does it have an up-to-date SSL certificate? See why this is crucial.
- Can users easily contact you or land on a contact page within 3 clicks or less?
A website package (see Localsearch website packages) will be the easiest way to ensure your website is ready for search engines, can convert customers and puts your best foot forward. However, for a website to work well, it will need some ‘maintenance’, i.e. search engine optimisation. Read on to learn more.
Search Engine Optimisation
Search engine optimisation (AKA SEO) generally refers to activities performed on your website to help improve your visibility on search engines, like Google. There are also things you can do off your website, such as building backlinks, to better your chances.
Now, as Google and other search engines are always looking for the best ways to deliver the right answer to search queries, SEO is an ongoing task. If you want to be consistently seen on Google for the right search queries, it’s also a necessary task.
To stay on top of SEO best practices for your website, you’ll need to either invest your own time, taking you away from your business, or money to have someone deal with it for you.
As far as long-term marketing strategies go, content creation may be one of the most multi-pronged in what it can do for your business. Through blogs, videos, social media posts, updating your website, guest posting and more, you can:
- Build your authority in your industry.
- Build trust in your brand by asserting your authority.
- Improve your search engine optimisation.
- Develop direct marketing lists.
- Direct traffic to different landing pages.
- Advertise your business indirectly.
- Be on multiple platforms providing useful information
And more. Utilising content is as simple as posting your findings, sharing industry insights, revealing tips for customers and simply keeping in touch with your audience.
Many businesses use their social media accounts as a short-term marketing strategy. They’ll post when they have content and leave it at that. But you should be using Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Youtube and other social platforms as a long-term plan.
- How to use social media for long-term results:
- Become a reliable source of information.
- Be entertaining by showing your business’s personality.
- Build your reviews on the platforms you can.
- Interact with your followers and engagers.
We’ve written many articles (such as this one) on this topic, as it’s one of the most important in 2019. The fact that 91% of consumers say they read reviews, while 84% of these people say they trust online reviews as much as they do a personal recommendation shows exactly why reputation management should be part of your long-term plan (inc. 2017).
How do you successfully manage your online reputation successfully?
- Increase your number of positive reviews.
- Answer all reviews, good and bad, in a professional manner.
- Report any false reviews (such as those you have evidence are from a competitor).
- Utilise a reputation management tool to handle unhappy customers before they review.
Should you use short-term or long-term marketing strategies in your 2019 plan?
We said this in the beginning, but ultimately, you should be using both short and long-term marketing strategies. Every business will go through slumps (hello, post-Christmas shopper guilt). Short-term marketing tactics will help you keep going through the bad times, while long-term will be there to support you, well…long-term.
Cover image source: Joshua Coleman on Unsplash