It’s safe to say that the small business landscape will never be the same. The coronavirus pandemic and resulting economic decline has left entrepreneurs scrambling to rebuild or simply stay in operation.
Your 2021/2022 marketing plan should be radically updated to attract today’s consumers. Here are strategies to explore.
Don't immediately cut your marketing budget
Research from Adweek shows companies that cut their ad spend during a recession typically observed a reduction in sales and income of 20% to 30% over the next two years as a result.
Cutting down on marketing expenses doesn’t just impact your bottom line, it can affect distribution and other business operations. Cutting your marketing spend can cause loyal customers to go elsewhere and you won’t be able to effectively build your brand.
Spend marketing dollars wisely
As an alternative to slashing your budget, strive to do more with less. Perform an analysis of the marketing channels you use and determine the best ROI. Focus on just those channels instead of going off the grid.
Forming a partnership can also help alleviate marketing costs without impacting performance. Team up with a non-competing small business to share advertising costs. For example, Cold Stone Creamery is benefitting from the widely anticipated Shark Week. The Discovery Channel’s unique programming gets a boost from the ice cream store’s special summertime treats crafted specifically to celebrate sharks. It’s a true win-win for the brands from different industries with audiences that overlap.
Explore voice search
From Alexa to Google Home, voice search is here to stay. Here are some impressive statistics:
- 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020, per comScore.
- About 30% of all searches will be done without a screen by 2020, per Gartner.
- 13% of all households in the United States owned a smart speaker in 2017, per OC&C Strategy Consultants. That number is predicted to rise to 55% by 2022.
Small business expert Neil Patel reports that you can gain a lot more business by carefully incorporating the following keywords into your SEO strategy:
- Phrases used to describe your location’s neighborhood
- “Near me” in your title tags, meta description, internal links, and anchor text
- Landmarks around your business location
- The titles of local institutions that are relevant to your business
For more information about SEO and voice search, read this article How to Optimize for Voice Search: 4 Simple SEO Strategies.
Ramp up social media
There’s been a lot of drama surrounding top social media platforms. From privacy concerns to Russian bot invasions, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others have a challenging year ahead. Despite the issues, there are plenty of consumers still using social media to find businesses, read reviews and engage with brands.
If you’re using social media, it’s fairly simple to track your progress via free analytic tools within the platforms. If you came up short last year, it’s probably time for a refresh. One of the best ways to get started is with a competitive analysis. This can reveal where you’re on target and what you need to improve.
Since social media is ever changing, it might be challenging for a busy business owner to stay on top of everything. If you need help, consider hiring a social media specialist. The SmartBiz Blog has a good resource here: Small Business Marketing Tip: How to Hire a Social Media Strategist.
Consider content marketing
Unfortunately, paid advertising is becoming less effective. Nearly 200 million people were using ad blockers in 2015. Today, more than 615 million devices now have ad blockers. How can you get around the ad block movement? The answer is content marketing.
Blogs, articles and social media are all forms of content you can post online. A long-term strategy, content marketing can build a strong audience relationship, get the attention of your target customer, improve engagement and solidify your brand.
You probably have a marketing strategy for the holidays. But what about the rest of the year? There are lots of creative ways to engage your current customers and attract new ones. All you need to do is look at the right calendar.
Wacky days trend on social media like #lasagnaday or #kissaredheadday. Whether these are “real” or just crafted for fun, creative observances can be a great way to kick off a short term marketing push.
Here’s a list of observations this year: Marketing Calendar 2021: When to Promote Your Business.
Don’t get overwhelmed when you think of marketing. Prioritize your strategy and tackle new tasks one at a time. The SmartBiz Small Business Blog has a number of resources to help you get educated and energized.