by Melissa Harrison | Featured Contributor
As entrepreneurs, we’re constantly thinking of ways we can do things better. And what better time than when the New Year rolls around?
The biggest thing you can do this year is to focus on your customer–bring them along for the ride. Think of marketing from the standpoint of what you deliver to your audience–to your customers. What are their pain points? What do they want most from you? How can you provide these things while maintaining your brand position?
Whether you have a team of marketing professionals at your fingertips or you’re a one-woman shop, the following are 5 marketing tips to focus on for 2014:
1. Engage emotionally with your audience
Turn the tables: make it about them. Your customers are not there to support you, they come to you because they need something–for themselves. Kick it into high-gear this year by offering more in the way of personalized support, products and experiences. Your audience is smart, savvy and expects more out of you each year.
Use big data as a way to help define what your customers want and how you can deliver on their expectations. Researching what touches your customers on an emotional level will help you connect better with them in the long run. Track what you can and use valid data collected over time to make solid business decisions when it comes to the rest of your marketing for the year.
Don’t be afraid to get personal with your audience. Show some personality. Connect.
2. Get in the content marketing game
Content marketing is no longer a buzz word. It’s mainstream and it’s something that, whether you call it “content marketing” or not, your audience is looking for (and ultimately, this will help you engage in emotional, real relationships with your audience). Online content strategies are a must (as you probably realize, as you’re reading this post). I even have some great tips on how to get started with a content marketing plan.
This year will also see more changes related to organic, paid and earned media. A good philosophy is to have a mix of all three and set aside some marketing dollars (it’s OK to start small!) for promoted posts across social media channels and a little digital advertising here and there. Be strategic in the digital space. There are a lot of folks out there. Think about what your brand can do to be creative, to be different. Think past the amount of ‘likes’ on your Facebook page and into the meat of why you started your content marketing strategy in the first place–how will engagement online drive success in your business?
3. Mix it up
In this case, you CAN have your pie and eat it too. Traditional marketing? Yes! Digital marketing? Yes! My point: think of how your traditional marketing tactics can be supported by digital, and vice versa. It’s fine to keep your glossy brochure, but be sure to mention how others can engage with you online as well. Even better? Take it one step further by adding QR codes or short URLs to track the success of your printed pieces in the digital space.
Make it easy for others to find you online and track where they came from. Understand what your business goals are and how you will support them with a solid mix of traditional marketing and online marketing tools. Integration is key.
4. Go mobile.
As with content marketing, mobile is creeping into the not-so-new-but-mandatory area of marketing these days. In fact, 84% of people WORLDWIDE say that can’t go without their mobile phone for one day. Think about it, can you?
Think about where you get your information as a consumer of other goods and services. I bet you’re using your smartphone or tablet for many of this information. Your customers access information the same way. We are an “always-on” society, like it or not. Your website needs to be responsive, your content should fit nicely on mobile devices, your email newsletters should be mobile-friendly (did you know that mobile makes up the majority of email open rates?
Regardless of the original source of your brand’s marketing content, it should all transfer nicely to the mobile web. Text messaging. Easy share options. Social networking widgets. Visual content. Make them all easy to view (and share) to your consumers.
5. Think multiple points of “entry”
There’s a simple sketch I’ve been using with my clients lately that relates to the “new” sales funnel (no, I’m not the best free-hand drawer, but you get the point) which is: there is no flat sales funnel anymore. Your customers are coming at your from multiple points of entry–your blog, your Facebook page, your Pinterest boards–and we need to be thinking outside the funnel.
Companies that choose to engage on an emotional level with their customers, providing value-rich content and solutions will outpace the rest. The purchase funnel we were all taught in our basic marketing classes (or as green business owners fending for ourselves when we first started out) is no longer.
The value you place in choosing to market and create brand awareness where your customers are looking, when they are looking and what they are looking for has a direct correlation to the success of your business in 2014 and beyond.
There is no one direct path to purchase. It is a joint effort between traditional marketing tactics and online tools. Between Facebook posts and information-rich blog posts. Between you, your customers and their needs.
Are you ready to take on 2014 by storm?
Marketing and Small Business Executive – Melissa Harrison from Allee Creative, Twin Cities, MN
Melissa Harrison , CEO and founder of Allee Creative, LLC , has more than 13 years of experience in content management, marketing strategy and branding, working with small to mid-sized businesses to build strategic online content and traditional marketing strategies.
Listed as one of the “Top 36 Content Marketers Who Rock” by TopRank and Content Marketing Institute, Melissa believes that businesses must adapt to what customers want, which includes using social media and creative online content to provide relevant, consistent information, in order to survive. It is no longer business as usual and only the companies that strive to embrace change will remain relevant.
Melissa is also a four-time recipient of the Hermes Creative Award and a national speaker on the topics of branding, content marketing, marketing strategy and social media. Melissa is also certified by Google Analytics Academy in Digital Analytics Fundamentals.
In addition to her professional life, Melissa is a mother of four, a certified fitness instructor an avid reader. If you look up “insane multi-tasker” in the dictionary you’ll most definitely find her picture. Melissa is forever pushing the envelope, starting her company when she was pregnant with her second child at the young age of 27 years old. Named a “Mover & Shaker” by the Star Tribune, she’s fought with the “big boys” for her spot at the table and continues to challenge herself each day.