Small business owners don’t typically have the time or resources to design and execute cutting-edge marketing strategies; that’s the way of the marketing world. Big corporations like Coke and Microsoft test out new ideas in big ways, and then smaller companies adopt the new strategies that proved worthwhile.
Because of this “trickle down” marketing process, insights often come to small business owners after enough time has passed to analyze the results of the big firms’ efforts. In this article, we’ll discuss new marketing ideas that are proven, but still fresh — fresh enough to put your business ahead of your lagging competitors.
Here’s your opportunity to get a leg up in 2014. Consider these five marketing strategies that your competition probably isn’t using yet. The competition may adopt them eventually, but you’re going to lead the way.
1. Learn The Essential Fundamentals Of SEO
As a marketer myself, I’m familiar with how much dedication it takes to continually practice search engine optimization (SEO). Search engines like Google are constantly updating their search algorithms, and social media sites like YouTube and Facebook have become huge search engines in their own right.
The SEO industry has a lot to keep up with. As a result, many small businesses don’t adapt to algorithm changes swiftly, or even know when algorithm changes have happened. That leaves you an opportunity to get ahead — and the best way to do that is to understand what Google wants and where it’s going. That way, you won’t be adjusting to algorithm changes; you’ll be ready for them (and expecting them). Start by learning about Google’s latest update, which is called Hummingbird.
Hummingbird changed the way Google indexes the web. Now, when Google indexes any webpage, it focuses on the context of content. Due to this change, SEO professionals can’t manipulate pages for specific keywords anymore. Instead, valuable, resourceful, informational, and authoritative content (and lots of it) is required to rank well in organic search results.
What does that mean for your small business? You should start publishing online content that’s awesome. One way to do this is by publishing content that answers specific questions commonly asked by your target market. Why? Because that’s how internet users search — by asking questions and looking for answers.
In order for your website to rank well in search results for these sorts of question-based search queries, you have to answer those questions. So, instead of posting a blog titled “Awesome New Vacuum Now Available in Our Online Store,” post a blog titled “How to Clean Your Home Faster.”
For more information on how on-site content impacts your SEO initiative, see “Why an Active Blog is Necessary for a Successful SEO Initiative.” For a primer on the basics of SEO in 2014, see “The Three Pillars of SEO In 2014.”
For fundamentals of SEO, also see these resources from Marketing Land’s sibling-site Search Engine Land:
- What Is SEO / Search Engine Optimization?
- Periodic Table Of SEO Success Factors
- Search Engine Land’s Guide To SEO
There’s also a short video from Search Engine Land that explains how SEO works:
2. Develop Your YouTube Account
Despite how much attention video marketing has attracted over the last couple years, many small businesses have yet to dive in. That makes sense. Video marketing can seem intimidating compared to other marketing methods. Today, however, is your day to get ahead of your competition by launching a video marketing campaign.
To get started, write a 1 to 3-minute script that answers a question about your industry, company, etc., then grab a video camera (your smartphone works) and create a video. With practice, your videos can get more sophisticated, but you have to start at the starting line.
For a basic primer on video marketing, see “A Guide to Video Search Marketing for Small Businesses.”
3. Diversify Your Social Media Focus
As both a social network and a marketing channel, Facebook is a powerhouse, but other networks are growing in importance as well. GlobalWebIndex (GWI) recently published its quarterly report on the social media landscape, confirming Facebook’s growing competition and your marketing department’s need to seriously invest time in other social sites.
According to the report, “The site continues to experience declines in levels of active usage but the extent of the drop in the second half of 2013 (down 3%) has been significantly over-exaggerated in some reports; it is still hugely popular among all demographic groups and there have in fact been increases in the audience sizes for its apps.”
As the report suggests, small business marketers should not abandon Facebook anytime soon, but they should be expanding their social media efforts to stay in the real social media game. Despite Facebook’s current dominance, I encourage you to step back and take a look at the big picture.
“Some of the other major players recorded small to modest increases between Q2 and Q4 – including Google+ (+6%), LinkedIn (+9%) and Twitter (+2%) – but the biggest rises in active user numbers were on newer or less-established networks,” explains the GWI report. “This trend was led by Instagram (+23%) and Reddit (+13%), illustrating how much more diversified and competitive the social networking landscape has become.”
For help choosing other social media networks in which to participate, see my article “How to Determine Which Social Media Network Fits Your Business.”
4. Implement Remarketing
If you have an e-commerce business and you’re running paid search ads, start remarketing. Remarketing has been around for quite a while, but as the technology has advanced, this tactic has become even more valuable.
Google, for example, recently introduced a new feature in AdWords — Dynamic Remarketing — which makes remarketing campaigns an even safer investment than before. Start remarketing, and you’ll be leading your competitors in paid search.
5. Create A Google Plus Local Business Page
Google Plus has been largely ignored by small business marketers. That’s a mistake, so if you’re not on Google Plus, stop reading and develop your Google Plus presence now.
If you are on Google Plus, excellent! You can get ahead even further by taking advantage of Google Plus Local. Local online marketing is already growing in importance, and it will only become a bigger player throughout 2014. Take advantage by developing a business listing on Google Plus Local, a feature of Google Plus.
Once your local listing is set up, post content with local keywords, such as your city or region. When users search for businesses like yours in the local area, your profile will be much more likely to show up in results.
Although most of your competitors probably have yet to adopt these five marketing strategies, the clock is ticking. Implement these strategies now to show up online where your competitors don’t.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.