Marketing Agency vs. In-House Team: Which Should You Choose?

Marketing Agency vs. In-House Team: Which Should You Choose?

Like most business owners, you know you need to effectively market your business in order to expand your sphere of influence and engage new customers – but you’re unsure of the right approach. Is it more practical to recruit a dedicated marketing team to manage all your marketing in-house? Or is it wiser to enlist the services of an experienced digital marketing agency to tackle it for you?

Both are reasonable options, but there are also ramifications connected with either decision. In this article, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of hiring a digital marketing agency versus hiring an in-house marketing team.

3 Time-Tested Methods for Growing Your Business

If you want to grow your business (and why wouldn’t you?), there are a few tried-and-true methods you can employ to attract new customers:

  • Word of Mouth & Referrals
  • Advertising & Marketing  (PPC, SEO, Social Media)
  • Direct Sales  (Cold Calls, Email Blasts, Knocking on Doors)

In a perfect world, a business would land so many new customer referrals that they wouldn’t have to shell out money for advertising, marketing, or direct sales. But when you’re first getting started in business, referrals can be hard to rely on. Because of this, many companies will contemplate hiring an in-house marketing team or outsourcing their marketing to an agency. Let’s examine both options:

WHY HIRE AN IN-HOUSE MARKETING TEAM?

Based on your specific business needs, it might seem more reasonable to employ a dedicated marketing team in-house. Sure, you’re accruing additional salary expenses to the business, but you’re also gaining total control over how your marketing plan is put into action.

Recruiting an experienced, skilled marketing manager who can take charge of every aspect of your marketing efforts can help grow lead generation and steadily attract new customers. So, let’s weigh the pros and and cons of hiring an in-house marketing team:

PROS:

In-House Marketers Have a Deeper Understanding of the Business

Someone who works for your business is naturally going to have a much better understanding of the needs of your customers. They’re more acquainted with your products and services, as well as how best to promote them to clientele. If you’re a B2B organization – one that specializes in selling products and services to other companies – this may be even more critical, as an outside agency might not be as familiar with your specific market.

In-house marketers are likely to feel more connected to and in line with your overall business strategy. Chances are, they also have a fairly solid knowledge base and awareness of previous campaigns – and whether or not they have been successful – without having to go to the trouble of researching them, like an agency would. Additionally, an in-house team gives you creative control over the end-to-end digital process.

An In-House Marketing Team Is Focused On Your Brand Only

While marketing agencies will certainly make the effort to familiarize themselves with your brand and devote ample time to its marketing strategy, they’re also focused on the marketing needs of their other clients. 

By contrast, in-house marketing personnel are able to focus on your business 100% of the time. Each of their marketing efforts is customized to your specific needs. They spend time examining what’s working for you and making adjustments to marketing goals and processes. Because of this singular focus, your in-house marketing team is liable to put forth more ideas that are unique to your business.

In-House Marketers Are Available All Workweek Long

With a dedicated in-house marketing team, you don’t have to schedule a time to meet – you can brainstorm or revise plans anytime you need to.

Having convenient access to key decision-makers in real time can help streamline creative timelines and project management much more so than if a project has been outsourced.

CONS:

Oprah Winfrey saying,

In-House Marketing Can Be Inconsistent and Lackluster

One of the challenges of having just one or two people working on your marketing is that it’s often a part-time role. In-house personnel might already have other duties they’re expected to perform, and handling the business’s marketing needs is simply bundled into their job description.

As a consequence, consistency plummets quickly. It’s conceivable that weeks could go by without any new content being posted and ad campaign statistics going unmonitored.

Additionally, if budget constraints prevent you from recruiting a diverse team of crackerjack marketers, the content created by these individuals might be lifeless and uninspired as a result.

Yoda saying,

An In-House Marketing Team May Have Limited Training Time

Marketing agencies often spend a considerable amount of time and resources ensuring that their employees are updating their knowledge and skills. Ongoing training can entail attending marketing conferences or webinars, exchanging articles and resources online, and brainstorming between various departments.

By contrast, in-house marketers usually have less time to dedicate to improving their skills. They also don’t have the benefit of learning from or collaborating with other marketing departments. While you may initially hire individuals based on their digital marketing experience and expertise, once they’re a part of your in-house team they are far less likely to have the time and resources available to continue to maintain and refine their skills.

Steve Martin unsuccessfully trying to think of new ideas.

In-House Marketers May Run Out of Fresh Ideas

Effective marketing demands inherently imaginative minds that thrive on change. When a small in-house marketing team is focused on managing your brand alone, creativity can begin to languish over time. It’s difficult to keep formulating new and innovative strategies to promote products and share content when you have no one outside your circle to bounce ideas off. 

In some cases, company leadership keeps a tight rein on their creative team and doesn’t give them leeway to take chances and try new things. There may also be some overarching arrogance on the part of leadership, believing that no one outside the organization can represent the company as effectively as its employees.

Some rando guy saying really slowly,

Companies Must Foot the Bill for Retaining an In-House Team

In the short term, it can seem like you’re getting a better bargain by opting for a small in-house marketing team. But ultimately, it can become considerably more costly.

When you first link up with a marketing agency, you can anticipate paying out more money to get you set up – but these costs will dramatically decrease to monthly maintenance over time.

With an in-house team, you will continue to pay them an annual salary, as well as benefits and paid time off in most cases. With cost-of-living increases, this amount will only grow.

Digital Marketing Graphic with Soaring Rocket

WHY HIRE A DIGITAL MARKETING AGENCY?

Securing the services of a digital marketing agency can feel like a monumental maneuver. Typically, there’s a preliminary meeting, a contract of some duration, numerous discussions regarding the scope of work, and interacting with a variety of different people on the team. Finding the ideal agency can involve a great deal of time and effort.

Then there’s the cost. Working with an agency is oftentimes more expensive than “DIY” marketing or recruiting in-house personnel, primarily because the agency is more experienced. But a digital marketing agency can deliver a more expansive array of services and also churn out higher-quality work. Here are some pros and cons of hiring a digital marketing agency:

PROS:

Professional Marketers Have Specialized Skill Sets

Effective marketing demands a multifaceted approach, involving content creation, social media management, email marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click advertising (PPC), graphic/website design, and web development. Assembling an in-house marketing team teeming with all this talent is no easy undertaking.

When you partner with a reputable digital marketing agency, you gain access to an entire team of specialists – each of whom knows their niche and understands how best to get results. These passionate and knowledgeable marketers routinely manage a wide range of clientele, making it all the more probable that they’ll implement the proper strategies for your company with not as much trial and error.

A Marketing Agency Can Offer a Fresh Perspective

Companies that have been in business for any significant period of time may ultimately come to the realization that they’re circulating the same ideas over and over again. Campaigns start to look alike, and copywriters continue using the same terminology to describe things. In-house marketers keep trying to devise new and innovative ideas, but it’s getting more and more challenging to do so.

This is entirely normal. There’s a natural limit to how long a company can craft quality content when they’re promoting the same products and services day in and day out. It’s easy to become single-minded when working from inside an organization. For this reason, getting an outside perspective can be immensely beneficial to a business.

Partnering with an agency can help you view your company from a different perspective and bring a fresh approach to your marketing strategy. While it’s true that an outside agency will not have a thorough, expansive understanding of your company’s brand and history, this can actually be beneficial. An agency can objectively identify opportunities that might have gone unnoticed or were not as easily recognizable by in-house personnel.

Digital marketing specialists have years of knowledge and experience, and they’re trained to analyze your business from the consumer’s or client’s viewpoint. The old adage “two heads are better than one” is especially relevant when it comes to digital marketing.

Additionally, an agency may be more willing to push the envelope and think unconventionally. This can bring about increased ingenuity and quite possibly more successful marketing strategies.

Consistency and Speed of Work are Hallmarks of Digital Marketing Agencies

Consistency and Speed of Work Are Hallmarks of Marketing Agencies

When generating new marketing collateral, it’s easy for an organization to become careless about what and when to communicate. More often than not, attending to customers is their primary focus, and marketing takes a back seat.

As the majority of in-house personnel have other responsibilities apart from their marketing roles, the amount of time they have available to keep up to date on all the latest social media, SEO, content marketing, and branding trends is extremely limited.

By contrast, when you outsource your marketing efforts to an agency, they are able to jump in and start implementing strategies right away, carrying out each project from planning to completion. Because these agencies routinely handle a wide array of client accounts, they typically work far more efficiently than an in-house marketing team.

Over time, these agile marketers have designed state-of-the-art workflows and processes that are built for quality, volume, and efficiency. Outsourced agencies will strive to make sure that your content, ad campaigns, and social media marketing are all sent out on time and looking great, as well as ensuring that your branding is consistent.

Kim Kardashian flashing that cash

Marketing Agencies Are Cost-Effective Over the Long Term

While partnering with an outside agency might seem more expensive at face value, when you compare it to the costs of recruiting a full team of dedicated marketers, it’s a bargain! In-house personnel can set your company back hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in salaries, benefits, and technology investments.

Alternatively, you might choose to designate a single, in-house employee to handle all of your social media marketing, graphic design, and online advertising. But for less than the costs associated with that one individual, you could hire an agency and gain access to an entire team of specialists who are experienced in meeting the needs of a variety of diverse clients in multiple industries.

Working with an agency that comprehends your specific needs will allow your company to move swifter, secure better outcomes, and make decisions more effortlessly. You may not even have to work with an agency long-term at full scale – once you’re up and running successfully, you may only have to manage maintenance fees, which are considerably less by comparison.

Schitt's Creek:

Outsourcing to an Agency Gives Your Company a Competitive Edge

Competition is fierce and technologies evolve at lightning speed. Thus, it’s essential to keep up-to-date with the latest trends in order to stay ahead of your competitors. It’s conceivable to do this with an in-house team if your organization is prepared to invest in marketing education, new technology, and advanced resources. But most aren’t.

Fortunately, staying on top of the most current digital marketing techniques is an agency’s lifeblood. Marketing agencies often enjoy early access to cutting-edge technologies, tools, and software – most of which just aren’t available to smaller, in-house marketing teams.

Unless your internal marketing team is large enough to justify the costs of ongoing education and technology, it’s generally more economical to outsource your marketing to an agency.

CONS:

Will Smith on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air looking nervously uncertain.

Partnering with a Marketing Agency Can Incur Higher Costs Over the Short Term

Depending on how many functions you decide to pass on to an agency, you can expect to spend a bigger chunk of your marketing budget than you would with a single, in-house professional – at least at first.

But, as previously mentioned, you can’t always get the best results when entrusting all of your marketing efforts to one person. If you’re currently covering the total cost of salaries and benefits of supporting an entire in-house team, you might find that outsourcing to a marketing agency is actually more affordable.

When you link up with an external agency, it’s important to bear in mind that, in addition to gaining access to a whole team of professional marketers, you’re also laying the foundations of a long-term marketing strategy that will gradually decrease costs and improve overall profitability.

Naturally, being businesses themselves, marketing agencies have their own salaries, taxes, and other expenses that must be met. In order to accomplish this, they have to set prices for each of their various services. Most agencies are upfront about their pricing and are willing to adjust their fee structures to meet your budget.

While an agency might cost more in the short term, they are going to be able to generate better returns that you can measure right away. This signifies that you know the value that you’re paying for.

Dream Corp:

Marketing Agencies May Lack Your Knowledge of the Industry

While some marketing agencies concentrate on a specific industry, most of them work with clients in a variety of markets. Consequently, they may not have the degree of knowledge you have about your products and services.

In such cases, there will be a bit of a “discovery period” in the early days of a project until the agency has become familiar with the particulars of your central business processes. Even agencies that have worked with a vast array of clients will need time to grasp your customers’ needs.

As each market is distinct, what performs well for one business could fail miserably for another. You won’t want to squander money on a campaign that will turn out to alienate potential customers.

Finding a firm with demonstrated results in your field can help counterbalance a lack of industry knowledge.

The Umbrella Academy:

It Can Take Time for Agencies to Get Up to Speed On a Company

It can be hard to get down to business straightaway after hiring an agency. The client-agency partnership needs time to ensure proper alignment to the client’s stated objectives.

A creditable marketing agency will want to gain a deep understanding of your clients and identify what it is that they’re looking for. At the same time, they’ll need to make certain they have a grasp of your brand’s voice and image.

After taking the time to evaluate your goals and prior marketing efforts with their team, the agency will work to determine what direction to take with your marketing and make certain that you approve of it as well.

Once a campaign has concluded, the agency will ask for your feedback so that they can adapt and enhance your marketing strategy going forward. All of these things take time, and a freewheeling approach won’t produce the optimal results.

You Can Expect Lots of Meetings, Especially At First

When outsourcing your marketing to an agency, you can anticipate taking part in lots of meetings and discussions, especially at the outset of the relationship.

Every single aspect demands your consent and stamp of approval early on, and you can’t relegate the critical decisions to the agency. It can be burdensome at times – being tasked with reviewing a new web design or web content, or greenlighting ad campaigns – but it’s an integral part of the process.

As the client-agency relationship progresses, you can expect to continue having regular meetings in order to:

Warner Archive:

Regular Communication with Marketing Agencies Can Be Challenging

Effective communication is crucial to keeping your marketing plan running smoothly. But when you partner with an outside marketing agency, you won’t always have instant access to your team. Lack of physical proximity is a natural barrier, and face-to-face communication is understandably more limited.

Communicating with your agency partners often takes place via phone or email, and they may be slower to respond to requests, questions, or concerns than you’d prefer. While meetings can be arranged, they typically occur hours or days later.

The fact of the matter is, you aren’t the agency’s only client – you may not even be their biggest client. Agencies routinely manage multiple accounts for a variety of clients. If other clients contract for more services, your company’s project may not be prioritized as highly. Simply put, it can be easy to get lost in the shuffle.

Principled marketing agencies, however, work to ensure that no client feels less valued than another. They strive to keep in constant contact with each of their clients and make a conscious effort to respond to concerns quickly.

Final Thoughts

Both recruiting an in-house marketing team and outsourcing to an agency have their benefits and drawbacks. Neither option is inherently “right” or “wrong” for any business.

In order to determine which approach is right for your company, it’s important to examine your short-term marketing goals as well as your long-term growth strategy. Weighing these against your own team’s strengths and weaknesses is critical in assessing whether you should keep your marketing initiatives in-house or entrust them to outside experts. In addition, identifying which particular services your company needs and what your marketing budget is are essential to reaching a final decision.

Many companies already have a core of in-house individuals tasked with handling their marketing. By and large, in-house personnel live and breathe the company brand and are likely to have a far more in-depth understanding of the business’s unique selling proposition, product set, and buyer personas. Thus, in-house marketers may be better qualified to create relevant content and effective communication strategies for the company.

Nevertheless, the range of expertise and resources available to in-house marketers may be limited – indeed, they may find it difficult to implement new software or keep pace with ever-evolving trends and technologies.

There’s a steep learning curve involved with digital marketing, and teaming up with an external agency can help avoid classic “newbie” mistakes. Instead of spending time and effort exploring various possibilities, agency specialists will formulate and carry out a hard-and-fast plan without delay, so you can receive a quicker return on your investment.

Many organizations find that a hybrid approach to marketing works best. Outsourcing key services to agency specialists can not only be extremely cost-effective, it also provides an outside perspective which can help in-house marketing teams recognize opportunities to improve. Keeping some of your resources in-house also helps the company maintain some degree of direct control over its content, branding, and other marketing resources.

Now that you’ve had a chance to analyze the pros and cons of retaining an in-house marketing team versus partnering with an outside agency, it’s time to take the next step.

If you or your business could benefit from the services of a professional, full-service digital marketing agency, HighClick Media is here to help! 

HighClick provides comprehensive digital media and online marketing solutions for businesses of all sizes. Our talented team of creative thinkers, innovators, and digital marketers bring skill above and beyond the ordinary to every project, resulting in explosive business success!

Whether you’re looking for a fresh website design, brand development, email and social media marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), or pay-per-click advertising (PPC), our highly skilled team is fully equipped to assist you!

Reach out to us today by calling 252.814.2150 or visit our website for a full description of our services!

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How to Grow Your Business by Optimizing Your Website

How to Grow Your Business By Optimizing Your Website

Prioritize Creating a Data Recovery Plan

Unfortunately, business owners too often minimize the importance of cybersecurity until after their company has been targeted and compromised by cyberattackers. Rather than waiting until disaster strikes, it’s imperative to educate yourself about cybersecurity data protection and be proactive about protecting your company’s website.

Coming up with a cyber-recovery plan to safeguard your company’s digital assets – including your website – should be your number one priority. This will allow you to get your website back up and running quickly in the event of a cyberattack. You’ll want to establish a proposed timeline with your preferred “deadlines” for system recovery, as well as details about which programs and applications will have to be addressed in order to execute recovery. Finally, make note of who will be responsible for conducting each task included in your recovery plan.

Develop Educational Content

Sure, your website is a sales and marketing platform – but it can also serve as a vehicle for customer education. Whether your typical customer is another small business, a nonprofit organization, or an individual consumer in your area, you can establish your website as a place that visitors can turn to for up-to-date resources on everything from product use cases to new developments in your industry.

So, how can you ensure that your marketing content is also educational? Business 2 Community recommends publishing blog posts that address your audience’s most common “pain points,” hosting live video lessons with product demonstrations on your website, or even establishing a special membership section of your site with bonus content for paying subscribers.

Integrate Your CRM & ERP

Your customer relationship management (CRM) system and enterprise resource planning (ERP) software are both indispensable to your business. From tracking and capturing leads to managing your overall operations, these software programs can be leveraged to carry out a plethora of key business functions. You can use these programs to their fullest potential by integrating them and then connecting the internal, integrated system to your website. In doing so, not only will you boost your team’s productivity and efficiency but you’ll also be able to seamlessly transfer information from your website to these interconnected programs.

User-Friendly Design

Have you ever had an unpleasant experience while browsing a particular website? Maybe you found it difficult to find the particular page you were looking for. Perhaps you tried to use the search function to find an important piece of content, but it didn’t deliver accurate results. Or, maybe you were seeking contact information so that you could get in touch with a customer support specialist – but no matter how hard you looked, you didn’t see any contact forms, email addresses, or phone numbers.

Crafting an enjoyable user experience should be at the heart of your website design and management approach. But, how can you go the extra mile to make sure that your customers can easily navigate your website and make the best use of all its features? Rock Content recommends designing a clear menu that allows your customers to visit key sections of your website with one click, including an easy-to-find contact form.

In addition, it’s also essential to make sure that your overall site layout looks attractive – after all, visually appealing content might prompt visitors to stay on your website longer (and the longer visitors stay on your site, the more likely they are to take action, such as making a purchase or booking an appointment). If you can’t find a theme that you like with your current content management system, you might consider enlisting the services of a professional web design and development firm that can create a custom layout for your site.

Local SEO: How to Get Found Online by Customers in Your Area

You might be acquainted with the basic principles of search engine optimization (SEO), and perhaps you’ve even been incorporating some useful keywords into your website content already. But have you taken the time to focus on local SEO? By emphasizing local SEO in your website strategy, you can specifically target customers in your area who are seeking products and services like those that you offer.

What can you do to reach customers nearby using SEO tactics? BrainChild Studios recommends putting your city and state on your homepage, adding your city to your page title tags (including the local schema code in your website pages), claiming your Google Business Profile listing, and including your business in local online directories.

Boost Your Conversion Rate

The ultimate goal of your business’s website is to convert visitors into paying customers. Therefore, you need to find ways to boost conversion rates with your website. While implementing user-friendly website design principles can help in this area, there are also some other steps you can take.

A/B testing is key to increasing conversions – you can run tests to analyze your conversion rates with your current site features. Then, as you implement new features like headlines, calls to action, or contact forms, you can run additional tests to compare their effectiveness. By conducting multiple A/B tests at once, you won’t have to wait until a new feature has been thoroughly tested to analyze the impact of another.

Speed Up Your Website

The ultimate goal of your business’s website is to convert visitors into paying customers. Therefore, you need to find ways to boost conversion rates with your website. While implementing user-friendly website design principles can help in this area, there are also some other steps you can take.

A/B testing is key to increasing conversions – you can run tests to analyze your conversion rates with your current site features. Then, as you implement new features like headlines, calls to action, or contact forms, you can run additional tests to compare their effectiveness. By conducting multiple A/B tests at once, you won’t have to wait until a new feature has been thoroughly tested to analyze the impact of another.

Final Thoughts

Your website doesn’t exist just so your company will show up in search engines. In reality, your website might be an unrealized tool for your business’s growth. If you haven’t prioritized growing your business by maximizing your website’s potential, you can get started by integrating some of these recommendations.

If you need help with optimizing your existing website, creating a new website from scratch, boosting your SEO for greater discoverability in Google searches, or any other aspect of your digital marketing, you don’t have to go it alone! HighClick Media is here to help! Contact us today at 252.814.2150 or drop us a line here to see how we can help #elevateyourbrand!

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Guest blogger Cody McBride’s love for computers stems from high school when he built his own computer. Today he is a trained IT technician and knows how the inner workings of computers can be confusing to most. He is the creator of TechDeck.info where he offers easy-to-understand, tech-related advice and troubleshooting tips.

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An Approachable Guide to Starting Your Own Business

An Approachable Guide To Starting Your Own Business

Ready to get the ball rolling on your entrepreneurship dreams? It’s common for prospective entrepreneurs to feel overwhelmed by the steps involved in launching a business. Between coming up with a viable business idea and introducing your product to market, there’s a lot to do! Don’t let the steps ahead paralyze you. Take it day by day, chip away at each part of the process whenever you have the time, and try not to overcomplicate things.

Professional service providers can offer a lot of value while you work to build your startup. For example, if you’re looking for branding, digital marketing, or web development assistance, partnering with an agency can help. Having the right professionals on your side will make your entrepreneurial dreams much more attainable.

To make business ownership seem a little more approachable and guide you through the startup phase, we’ve put together this guide packed with tips and resources!

Develop Your Business Idea

Before you do anything, you will need to pick a business idea. Try to keep it simple! Some businesses are easier to start than others. Inexpensive, service-based businesses are great for first-time entrepreneurs on a limited budget, especially those going at it alone. You won’t need to hire a team of employees, lease retail space, or purchase large quantities of inventory. Plus, you can always scale your business later when you have the funds to hire help!

Some great examples of easy businesses include pet sitting, residential cleaning, landscaping, hauling, exterior home maintenance, painting, and event planning. If you’re looking for something more remote, consider services you can offer virtually, like tutoring or personal training. Offering services to other businesses is where you’ll make the most money. Think freelance copywriting, web design, web development, marketing, consulting, and social media management.

Launching a service business will serve as a great introduction to business ownership while minimizing the risks involved. Service businesses generate cash quickly, enjoy good profit margins, and can get off the ground in a matter of days!

Register Your Business

Once you have your business idea, your next step is to decide whether or not to register your business. In some cases, you might not have to register at all! As long as you do business under your legal name, you are not required to register anywhere. However, you might still want to register your business with the federal government for trademark protection and with your state agencies for legal benefits and liability protection. You may also want to file a Doing Business As (DBA) so that you can legally conduct business under a name other than your own.

Streamline Your Business Finances

Financial organization is another important part of starting a business. When your finances are managed properly, you’ll have a much clearer picture of the financial health of your business. Keeping track of the cash flowing in and out of your business is essential for ensuring you have the money to pay the bills before they come due. Carefully tracking your expenses, staying on top of your accounts receivable, and managing payroll effectively will help you keep your finances on track.

Online accounting tools make it easy for business owners to manage these financial tasks without hiring an accountant. For example, if you’re short on time, you can automate repetitive tasks with invoicing software. A reliable invoicing system will help you send detailed estimates, create invoices quickly, send invoices to multiple clients, track client payments, duplicate invoices for different customers, and more. Tools like these will make quick work of all your time-consuming administrative tasks, giving you more time to focus on what you do best.

Access Startup Capital

Most entrepreneurs need some level of funding to get a business off the ground. Fortunately, you have several different options when it comes to funding your new venture. Startup Nation explains that crowdfunding is one such method that has become incredibly popular in recent years. Using crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, you can raise money directly from people who support your business idea.

You can also try soliciting startup capital from angel investors and venture capitalists. Just make sure you’re willing to give up some share of equity in your company if you go this route! Small business loans, grants, and contests can also help you access the funds you need.

Market Your New Business

Marketing is one of the most challenging parts of launching a startup. What’s more, lack of budgeting resources is a common marketing problem among small business owners. Focus on low-cost, high-value marketing strategies to attract your first clients and continue growing your business from there.

For example, social media marketing can offer some incredible value to local businesses. Use social media to build a following of engaged locals around your brand and give your audience a reason to care about what you’re doing. Content marketing goes hand in hand with social media and is a great way to position your business as a trusted leader in your industry. Produce blog content and YouTube videos sharing valuable content with your audience. Aim to deliver a high level of value to your followers with the content you produce so they have a reason to keep coming back!

Build a Solid Online Presence

Make sure your customers can also find you on Google. Listing your business on Google My Business will allow customers to find your business when searching for local services in your region. Beyond this, Google My Business provides tools that you can use to engage with your customers, evaluate data insights, and share updates about your business. Google My Business further provides tools to streamline appointment booking, showcase menus, and advertise promotions.

Starting your own business is a great way to carve your own path and take full control over your earning potential. If you’re feeling hesitant about getting started, you’re not alone! Thankfully, there are plenty of great tools and resources out there that will make business ownership more approachable.

Need help with website design, digital marketing, or branding? HighClick Media can help! Contact us at 252-814-2150 today and see how we can help elevate your brand!

While you’re at it, check out this article from our friends at FirstSite Guide to discover more than 50 online business ideas that you can start right now!

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Guest blogger Alyssa Strickland created millennial-parents.com for all the new parents on the block. Alyssa believes the old adage that it takes a village to raise a child, but she also thinks it takes a village to raise a parent! Millennial-Parents is that village. Today’s parents can be more connected than ever and she hopes her site will enrich those connections. On Millennial-Parents, she shares tips and advice she learns through experience and from other young parents in three key areas – Education, Relationships, and Community.

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Attracting Busy & Tired Customers: The Complete Guide for Small Businesses

Attracting Busy & Tired Consumers: The Complete Guide for Small Businesses

Finding new customers can be a challenge when you’re a new startup or a small business. Nobody knows your name, your budget is tight, and you’re competing with gigantic corporations that have well and truly sunk their claws into consumers and won’t be letting go any time soon. Not to mention that your ideal customers are likely busy, tired, and generally suffering from choice overload.

Essentially, you have a mountain to climb – and while it will be tough, it’s by no means impossible. Countless businesses make it – despite the odds – and so can you! You just need to work hard and make sure you’re on point with your marketing efforts and you’re driving engagement.

In this mini-guide, High Click Media offers tried-and-tested insight on how new businesses can reliably find, draw in, and engage with modern-day consumers on a limited budget.

Understanding the Modern-Day Consumer

Before you craft a new marketing strategy, you need to ask yourself how well you understand your ideal customers – or any customers, for that matter. In order for your marketing endeavors to gain any traction, you have to play to the audience – understand your customers’ mindset and then communicate your message to match.

As the Visual Capitalist notes, modern consumers – Millennials and Generation Z, in particular – are significantly different from their predecessors. Here’s how:

  • Less Discretionary Income:  Thanks to increasing education, food, healthcare, and housing prices, modern-day consumers have less money to spend. Extra work – and consequently, tiredness and burnout – is common.
  • Delayed Life Goals:  More and more, these younger generations  are delaying major life goals like marriage, purchasing a house, and having children. This tendency makes them less likely to take risks or indulge in whimsical purchases.  
  • Greater Diversity:  The racial makeup of consumers is changing considerably. You should expect to be doing business with a seriously diverse crowd.
  • Reeling from the Latest Disaster: Last but not least, everyone – small businesses, in particular – is still struggling with the impact of the pandemic.
  • More Choices: If Walmart doesn’t have it, Amazon will. Consumers need you less than you need them – and they know it. 

In short, modern consumers are, for the most part, a busy, harried lot. They have less money than they’d like, so convincing them to part with what they have will be tough. They also have fewer needs and higher expectations overall.

How to Attract and Engage with Customers

The picture isn’t pretty. But, like Benjamin Franklin said, out of adversity, comes opportunity. Business owners can turn these circumstances to their advantage by utilizing more targeted, savvier marketing.

Respect Their Time

When you’re busy – like, working two jobs – and stressed out, you don’t have time to listen to a marketing monologue. In fact, even being subjected to such a monologue can leave a bad taste in your mouth and likely turn you off to the brand. Keep this in mind when communicating with customers. Come up with a clear, to-the-point message and then try to refine it to 15 words or less – just like an elevator pitch. Practice it until you can get your message across meaningfully, clearly, and impactfully. 

Treat Them with Kindness

Kindness is a new business trend, and for good reason. Life can be challenging for modern-day consumers, and kindness is a soothing balm for the soul. Consumers remember businesses that treat them with genuine kindness, speak well of them, and keep coming back. Show kindness to your customers by offering meaningful advice, prioritizing customer service, resolving their problems, and keeping things simple.

Prioritize Convenience 

Customers’ time is at a premium. If you make it easy for customers to do business with you, they’re going to appreciate it. Some ways to make doing business with you more convenient for customers include posting regular updates on social media, offering digital services, accepting multiple payment options, and providing greater flexibility with your products and services.

Institute a Loyalty Program  

Loyalty programs are an effective way to both attract new customers and retain existing ones. If customers receive discounts and deals that few others are receiving, they’re going to feel recognized, special, and privileged – and this will make them want to keep coming back!

Speak Their Language 

The modern-day consumer has solid values and cares about authenticity, transparency, sustainability, and other ethical concerns. When you include these values in your marketing message, it’s more meaningful and attractive to customers.

Be Authentic  

It’s not enough to talk the talk – your brand will have to walk the talk, too. Ethics is incredibly important in modern-day marketing, according to Hubspot, and customers can tell when brands are faking it. If you manage to be authentic, however, you’ll have an easier time winning customers’ trust.

Remember to Personalize 

It’s flattering when someone remembers you, including your choices and preferences. When it’s a business doing the remembering, that’s even better! Build up a profile for each of your customers – it’s easy with technology – and personalize your products and services through recommendations, suggestions, and generally being welcoming.  

Ask for Feedback  

Gathering feedback collected from customers and using it to make improvements is what separates great businesses from good ones. Sometimes we don’t see our shortcomings – or our greatest potential, for that matter – until other people point them out. Feedback can not only take your business to new heights, but also has the added benefit of making your customers feel valued.

Get People to Vouch for You

Customers are more likely to trust their friends and family over the words they read in an advertisement. Get your customers to vouch for you, in any number of ways, to build on your brand in the market. Some ways to do this include starting a referral program, featuring customer testimonials on your site, and offering incentives for customers to review your business.

Be Memorable

Having solid branding is essential. It creates a bigger impression on customers and makes it easier for them to remember you. Getting a DBA (doing business as) name is an effective marketing strategy. DBAs allow you to sell your products under a different, more memorable moniker – or even branch out into a new niche. Furthermore, it’s handy when you want to market your services under a new domain but your desired domain isn’t available. 

Emphasize the Human Touch

Last but not least is the human touch. Names and branding are obviously important – but people remember other people and how they make them feel better than anything else. Some ways to emphasize the human touch are offering face-to-face meetings, training your sales team well, and making it easy for your customers to get in touch with a human being on the phone. 

Final Thoughts

Being successful in business, like everything else in life, revolves around your ability to build and maintain relationships with people. Prove yourself a worthwhile business partner and your customers will be happy, remain loyal, and keep coming back. 

If you’re in the early phases of your new startup or small business and you’d like some help getting started with digital marketing, give us a call today at 252.814.2150 or drop us a line at marketing@highclickmedia.com to see how we can help elevate your brand!

 

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About The Author:

Alyssa Strickland created millennial-parents.com for all the new parents on the block. She believes the old adage that it takes a village to raise a child, but also thinks it takes a village to raise a parent! Millennial-Parents is that village. Today’s parents can be more connected than ever, and Alyssa hopes her site will enrich those connections. On Millennial-Parents, she shares tips and advice she’s learned through experience and from other young parents in three key areas: Education, Relationships, and Community.

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8 Generation Lead Tips for Small Businesses

8 Lead Generation Tips for Small Businesses

Small businesses have to overcome numerous hurdles before making a name for themselves and ensuring an ever-increasing revenue stream. Naturally, some of the biggest obstacles are generating leads and inspiring loyalty.

At first glance, it seems simple enough – find a market gap and have your business fill it. Customers will flock to you without much effort on your part. In practice, it’s not nearly as effortless.

If you don’t want to be in the 70% of businesses that fail within a decade, you need to ensure that your lead generation tactics are flawless.

Let’s take a look at a few tips and tricks that will help set you up for success:

Start with an Impeccable Website

Most members of your target audience will have one thing in common – when they need products or services (that happen to be in your offer), they’ll first look them up online.

Over 97% of users search online to find local businesses and make purchases. So, only having a website will immediately up the ante on your lead generation.

Still, it’s not enough to simply have a website. You need to make it a great one if you’re going to generate and convert your leads.

Create a clean design that makes it easy for your website visitors to scan your pages and find the information they need. Be clear about who you are, what your business does, how it can help your audiences, and how interested prospects can contact you.

It’s also always a good idea to take a look at what your competitors are doing with their websites and gather some inspiration from that.

Perfect Your Landing Pages

With your website done, it’s time to start developing landing pages. One of the worst mistakes you can make in this regard is to use your homepage as the go-to landing page for all your ad campaigns.

Your homepage is already the most frequently visited page on your website, so there’s no reason to keep directing your audiences to it during your campaigns. Instead, create dedicated landing pages focused on converting visitors.

You’ll need to make your landing pages enticing, relevant to your ad content, concise, and direct. Present your offer, highlight your brand’s value, and include a clear call to action.

The better your landing page, the higher your conversions will be. Do some A/B testing to find out which landing pages perform the best, find out what your audiences want, and keep tweaking your pages until you get the desired results.

Improve Your SEO 

Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the biggest prerequisites for successful lead generation. By enhancing your SEO, you will:

There are a number of factors that impact your SEO ranking, including:

  • Page loading speed
  • Internal and external links
  • Quality of your content
  • Security
  • Mobile-friendliness
  • Keyword usage

If you want to rank on search engines and attract audiences, you’ll need to develop a comprehensive SEO approach. You can’t just improve your page speed, neglect all the other aspects of SEO, and expect to rank first.

SEO is a slow and steady approach, so take your time perfecting it.

Provide Relevant Content 

One thing that will help you improve SEO and boost lead generation is content. In the online environment, content is king.

Content marketing allows you to improve keyword usage, take your external and internal linking to a new level, engage audiences, enhance your visibility, and display your expertise.

 Whether you’re creating blog posts, e-books, video guides, infographics, Facebook Stories, or any type of content in between, your focus should be on quality. Keyword stuffing and improper backlinking are a no-go. Here’s what you should do instead:

  • Provide valuable information that will help your audiences
  • Offer solutions to your target customers’ most common problems
  • Provide relevant insights
  • Entertain your audiences

Before long, you’ll notice just how helpful content marketing can be for your lead generation.

Make Use of Social Media

We can’t talk about lead generation for small businesses without mentioning social media. It’s a gold mine for attracting customers and inspiring loyalty.

Whether you like it or not, you need to have a social media presence as a small business owner – it doesn’t matter if you’re running a small antique shop, a dropshipping business, or a family-owned pizzeria.

However, before you join all the most popular networks and get in over your head, analyze your target audience. See which platforms most of them use and examine how they interact with other businesses on them.

Then, only join those platforms that you can easily manage. After all, you’ll need to stay active on these platforms by regularly posting fresh content and responding to comments and messages. If you’re on more than a couple of platforms, you’ll likely find it difficult to keep track of them and use them to your advantage.

Take Advantage of Lead Generation Quiz Makers

A reliable lead generation quiz maker is ideal for engaging your audiences. It makes quiz creation a breeze, allowing you to know your target customers better and offering you a chance to stand out from the crowd.

You can create any type of quiz you want:

  • A fun personality quiz that grabs the viewers’ attention
  • An assessment quiz that tells you how much your audience knows about you and your products
  • A market research quiz, which allows you to assess your target audience’s most common pain points 

Share your quizzes on social media to reach a wider audience, add them to your lead generation emails, and embed them on your website to convert visitors.

With a lead generation quiz maker, it will take you no more than a few minutes to create engaging quizzes that boost your visibility and help you attract customers. You can also integrate it with email marketing tools or customer relationship management tools to nurture leads efficiently.

Monitor Your Online Reputation

To generate leads as a small business owner, you need to keep a very close eye on your online reputation.

You could have the perfect brand persona, excellent products and services, top-notch support, and a bulletproof content marketing strategy – and yet your reputation could still suffer. You need to be careful to pay attention to what people are saying about you and your brand.

Your customers and even competitors will talk about your brand on forums, social media groups, review sites, personal accounts, and more. Keep a close eye on all brand mentions.

If someone is harming your reputation online, you’ll need to be ready to clear things up, highlight your brand value, and present your business in the best possible light.

Respectfully respond to negative reviews, engage in discussions on public forums, offer solutions to public complaints, and ensure that your online reputation is excellent.

Spread the Word About Your Business Through Different Channels

Even with the best strategies at your disposal, it can sometimes be challenging to significantly increase lead generation on your own. Sometimes, you’ll need a little bit of help. Don’t be afraid to ask for it!

Spread the word about your business through different channels. For instance, you could try guest blogging, wherein you create content for other websites in your niche. Doing so will help you expand your reach, showcase your expertise, and attract a wider clientele.

Alternatively, you can reach out to influencers who make sense for your industry and who can connect you with their followers. Influencers inspire trust among their followers, enjoy an excellent reputation, and can easily impact their fans’ purchasing decisions.

Final Thoughts

Lead generation for small businesses can seem like an insurmountable challenge. But it’s easier than you may think when you have a few tricks up your sleeve and know what you’re doing.

So remember, if you want to boost your lead generation and conversion, you’ll need to: 

  • Create a great website 
  • Perfect your landing pages
  • Work on your SEO
  • Create relevant, engaging content 
  • Make use of social media 
  • Use a reliable lead generation quiz maker 
  • Monitor your online reputation
  • Spread the word through channels, such as guest blogging and influencer marketing

Follow these tips to ensure the success of your small business and start generating leads like a pro. Your business could also benefit from some creative experimentation on your part to complement the ideas discussed above.

If you need further help developing a lead generation strategy for your business, reach out to the small business experts at HighClick Media. We’ll take the time to get to know your business, identify its particular needs, and come up with solutions that will help your business grow. Reach out to us today at 252.814.2150 or drop us a line here.

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Guest blogger Angela White is an ed-tech enthusiast with a passion for writing. Specifically, she writes in the areas of product research and marketing using quizzes and surveys. She is a researcher at a brand that’s known for creating delightfully smart tools called ProProfs Quiz Maker.

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5 Ways to Get Your Small Business Ready for the Metaverse

5 Ways to Get Your Small Business Ready for the Metaverse

Is your business ready for the transition to the metaverse? Yeah, we get it – that’s a loaded question! After all, there’s still a fair bit of speculation and rumors about exactly what’s involved with the metaverse and what it will mean for us and our businesses.

Over the past couple of years, we’ve witnessed businesses placing a greater emphasis on ecommerce and digital transformation – thanks in large part to the global pandemic. But we’re also seeing businesses begin to shift their attention even further toward digital as the virtual world becomes less of a fantastical idea and closer to reality.

With internet users spending more time online than ever before, and many small businesses falling on hard times, it’s time for us to rethink how we will connect with our audiences going forward.

In this article, we’ll explore five ways to help your small business weather the world-changing transition to the metaverse – and thrive in its aftermath.

Know Your Niche

The concept of the metaverse – connecting people to technology (and vice versa) using virtual and augmented reality – isn’t a new one. In fact, the idea has actually been kicked around for decades, to varying degrees of execution.

No one seems to agree, or know for sure when the metaverse concept was originally conceived; it’s equally difficult to find an agreed-upon definition of what the reality of the metaverse means for us now.

What’s certain is that the first (and perhaps best) way to make sure your small business is ready for this new era of digital transformation is to have a clear idea of what you want for your brand and how you can make the most of technology to achieve your goals.

For one company, that might mean developing better AI in order to be able to better address customer questions through your website. For another, it might entail creating an entire virtual reality world that allows potential buyers to examine products before buying them as though they were actually there with the items.

Let’s face it: you know your business better than anyone else. Accordingly, only you can determine what the metaverse can (or can’t) do for your business.

Consider Updating Your Branding

With new tech initiatives and the emergence of newer, more diverse social platforms come new branding opportunities. This is a great time to take a long, hard look at your visual brand.

One of the great things about the metaverse is its focus on connectivity. Startups and small businesses alike must ensure that the visual aspects of their messaging make clear how important communication is to the business. As one of the founding values behind the metaverse, paying special attention to your visual branding must always be a top priority.

Claim and Update Your Business on Search Engines

More than half of business owners haven’t claimed their company’s listings on tools like Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business). This is a huge mistake!

Claiming and maintaining your online presence is absolutely crucial for a small business in today’s digital world. Without it, you’ll miss out on countless opportunities to drive traffic to your site, or to the business itself, as well as risk frustrating customers who can’t find the information they need when they need it.

Keeping this information up to date is just as important, particularly for things like holidays or hours of operation, as incorrect information could easily turn off potential customers.

I am not ready for that.

Don’t Abandon the Old Ways Too Quickly

Try to avoid the temptation to go “all virtual, all the time” too soon. Yes, the idea of the metaverse is exciting, and it’s likely that at least some of your customer base will be ready for it.

But good business dictates that you should always give the customer what they want – and the majority of consumers aren’t quite ready for this new way of doing business. At least not yet.

Even as you’re positioning your business to be ready for “the next big thing,” don’t be too hasty to cast aside the old ways completely. Many of your customers are going to want to stick with what they’re used to, for as long as possible. You should continue to give your audience the option to engage with your brand through more traditional methods.

Remain Adaptable

Last but certainly not least, be ready for anything! One thing that many entrepreneurs and small business owners know well is that right about the time you get comfortable, that’s when change comes fast and furious!

Sure, we have an exciting future ahead of us, thanks to an increasing tech-minded push, and it’s going to change the way we view and interact with our world. But if you get too hung up on tomorrow’s virtual reality project, you might not see what’s coming up next week.

 
 

Final Thoughts

Transformation is coming – that’s a given. How will your small business ride out these changes over the next decade? Well, that’s up to you. At the very least, you should be prepared for what comes next.

If you need help transforming your business for the digital age, HighClick Media can help! Whether you’re looking to update your website, get started with social media marketing, or optimize your website for search engines so it’s easier to be found online, we have a solution that’s right for you! Call us today at 252.814.2150 or drop us a line here to see how we can help elevate your brand!

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An earlier version of this article appeared on Entrepreneur’s website and can be found here.

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How to Advance Your Small Business Objectives

How To Advance Your Small Business Objectives

While small business owners and entrepreneurs are typically savvy business professionals, there are several tried-and-tested best practices that can help you stay organized and productive, allowing you to advance your business with speed and at scale. Let’s take a look at a few of these.

Organizational Skills

Organization and time management skills are both crucial to the success of your small business operations. This means utilizing project management planning and tracking tools; having a living, breathing business and marketing plan that you consult regularly; and establishing measurable objectives to help ensure that you’re hitting your goals.

Clearly defining operational functions for yourself, employees, and contractors can also go a long way toward ensuring overall productivity. You can achieve this by creating an employee training manual, drafting detailed job descriptions, and developing a defined organizational chart with a reporting structure.

You can keep your projects on track by using a process map to organize your project. A process map helps define the tasks needed to achieve your goals and breaks down deliverables at each stage of your project.

Developing Protocols

As there are several different ways a business can choose to operate, it’s imperative to clarify expectations with your staff in order to maintain smooth operations. According to Business News Daily, establishing best practices, chains of command, and an organizational hierarchy can help keep everyone on track.

It’s important to state, in writing, how projects are determined, defined, and implemented. Who signs off on purchases, training, or software implementations? Who is responsible for reviewing and approving marketing messages or social media strategies?  Who interviews, hires, and trains new staff members? Having these outlined in writing and used for employee onboarding is a must.

Communication Channels

According to Forbes, having open channels of communication – both internally and externally – can help your business run smoothly. Consider using a company intranet in which coworkers can stay connected. Have an email distribution platform in place for keeping in regular contact with your customers. Being on the same wavelength with vendors and contractors is also critical, whether that’s through regular email correspondence, routine telephone check-ins, or even in-person connections. If you haven’t already, create an employee manual including best practices – with examples and templates – around all communication protocols to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Innovative Practices

For a company to remain competitive and keep advancing, innovation is essential. This means continually looking for new ways to improve your products and services and deliver top-notch customer care. Conduct brainstorming sessions with employees to gain their unique insights. Attend conferences on a regular basis and join industry associations – this gives you numerous opportunities to ask questions and learn about policies and practices that work well for other organizations. Be open to new ideas and take calculated risks. This can include continually updating training protocols, conducting in-depth market research, and discovering new ways to outpace the competition.

Enhanced Productivity

When everyone has a well-defined job description and is able to focus on their particular area of work, productivity is sure to improve and employees will experience a sense of accomplishment.

Consider outsourcing key services when necessary. For example, you might enlist the services of a digital marketing agency to handle your social media and manage your marketing strategy, or hire an accountant to do your books and your taxes.

If your business’s invoicing process is cumbersome and time-consuming, making use of a bank account balance API can help you verify whether customers and clients have the funds available to pay for products on the spot. This helps ensure a steady cash flow for your business and helps customers avoid overdraft fees.

 

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of moving parts involved when it comes to operating a small business. Effective communication, time management, and regular collaboration meetings can all help your team stay focused and on track. Don’t be afraid to frequently revisit your planning documents and adjust accordingly. It’s all part of embracing an innovative mindset!

If you’re looking to scale your business through digital marketing or give your marketing strategy an overhaul, HighClick Media can help! Give us a call today at 252.814.2150 or drop us a line here to see how we can help #elevateyourbrand!

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Guest blogger Alyssa Strickland created millennial-parents.com for all the new parents on the block. She believes the old adage that it takes a village to raise a child, but also thinks it takes a village to raise a parent! Millennial-Parents is that village. Today’s parents can be more connected than ever, and Alyssa hopes her site will enrich those connections. On Millennial-Parents, she shares tips and advice she’s learned through experience and from other young parents in three key areas: Education, Relationships, and Community.

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How to Increase Brand Awareness on Social Media

How To Increase Brand Awareness Through Social Media

 

As a small business owner, you’re always looking for ways to grow your business. You know how to price your products competitively while still generating a profit. You know that special promotions such as flyers, TV ads, and signage are generally reliable for bringing in a few new customers. You know what works for you, and you’re confident that these practices will continue to propel your business in the future.

But are you using social media to further increase your brand awareness? If so, great! If not, why not? It may seem like a small thing in the big picture, but the reality is stark. The future of your business could depend on how well you can adapt to changing technology.

What Is Social Media?

Let’s go back to the basics. Social media is any means of electronic communication, such as a website or application, through which users build online communities to share and exchange information, ideas, personal messages, and other content.

Who Uses Social Media?

The short answer: practically everyone. Facebook is by far the most popular social network, with 2.45 billion monthly active users (MAUs). YouTube users number at 2 billion each month, while Instagram boasts 1 billion MAUs. Twitter (330 million MAUs) and LinkedIn (260 million MAUs) round out the list of the top social networks in use throughout the world.

Why Does Your Business Need Social Media?

Your business can benefit greatly from the connection between brand and customer that only social media can make. Similarly, social media can increase your overall brand awareness, which can boost leads and ultimately generate more sales.

What Is Brand Awareness?

Simply put, brand awareness is the extent to which someone can recall or recognize your brand. Over time, Kleenex and Band-Aids have become so associated with the products they represent that it’s easy to forget they’re actually trademarked names. The ultimate goal of brand awareness is for your business or products to become a “household name” for your customers. Specifically, you want your business to be the first name they think of when they’re seeking the services you provide.

Is Social Media Marketing Effective?

Much more than you might think, actually. Studies have shown that 71% of consumers who have a positive experience with a brand on social media are likely to recommend that brand to friends and family. In addition, 74% of potential customers say they’re more likely to trust a business with positive reviews on social media. It’s been said, and rightly so, that social media is the new “word of mouth.”

Is Social Media Marketing Affordable?

You may be wondering whether you can afford to market your small business on social media with a limited budget. The truth is that you can’t afford not to! If you’re willing to invest a little time and effort, that’s really all it takes – and the payoff can be amazing! You don’t have to use paid advertising to get results, though it can improve your chances of a successful marketing campaign.

How Can You Use Social Media to Increase Brand Awareness for Your Business?

Now that you understand a bit more about social media and what it can do for your business, how do you put this knowledge into practice? Here are 7 practical ideas to get you started:

IMAGE IS EVERYTHING

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. When it comes to social media, this is especially true. Users will instantly stop scrolling when something catches their eye, and a compelling picture or illustration will cause them to do just that. Be sure the image you choose offers a snapshot of what the post is about. Also, make certain you have permission to use the image. A quick Google search will lead you to more than a few websites where you can source images for free. If you have the ability to shoot and post your own video – perhaps a how-to, tutorial, product demonstration, or live “Q & A” session – even better! Infographics also resonate well on social media – design your own or find one that clearly addresses the subject of your post (and tag the original source). Infographics that provide helpful or insightful information are more likely to be shared than a huge block of text. Nobody wants to read a thousand words, anyway!

GET PERSONAL

There’s nothing more tedious than a business that inundates their followers with post after post proclaiming the superiority of their brand, products, or services. Aggressive sales pitch posts? Even worse! Social media users want to be entertained and engaged, not simply informed. Tell a story that piques their interest, then find a way to subtly tie it in to your brand. Don’t be afraid to add a dash of humor now and then. Some of the most-followed brands on social media are those that regularly inject their marketing with mirth. Another great way to keep your audience engaged is to actively listen and respond to their opinions, comments, and critiques – both the positive and the negative! You just might learn a thing or two about your own business! Encourage users to share your content and you’ll not only reach your followers, but their network as well.

SPEAK THEIR LANGUAGE

Social media users have short attention spans. You only have a few seconds to grab their attention. If your content isn’t fresh, valuable, or relevant to their interests, the chance of reaching followers with your message is greatly diminished. Focus on topics that are closely related to your particular field. Chances are, that’s why they’re following you in the first place! Use emojis, hashtags, and other popular text language to show your target audience you’re in touch with how they communicate. Finally, draw your audience in by letting them interact with you. Ask a question that generates responses in the comments. “Question posts” are much more likely to get shared, which also serves to increase your reach.

GIVE STUFF AWAY

This may not immediately strike you as an intelligent way to grow your small business, but it actually makes a lot of sense. People love getting something for nothing, so use that to your advantage. Create a contest for the best idea about X, Y, or Z, with the grand prize being a gift card to your business or perhaps a free product. Encourage followers to share the contest post with others, and maybe even offer bonus entries for each share. The more people see the post, the more you’ll have people talking about your business – and that’s never a bad thing! Consider initiating a referral program where you offer something for free to followers who refer a new customer to you. Any way you look at it, that’s a win-win situation!

MIX IT UP A BIT

While keeping a consistent brand voice across the board is key, it’s perfectly acceptable – and highly recommended! – to use a different tone depending on which social media platform you’re utilizing. On Facebook, you might post interactive content that’s more likely to get likes and shares (which is how you get the most eyes on your post). Twitter posts are short and snappy, and it may serve you best to adapt a more playful tone there. Instagram is image-driven, so you’ll probably want to reserve your strongest visuals for that platform. LinkedIn tends to be more serious and therefore might be an ideal landing spot for your more informative blog posts. As easy as it might be to copy and paste the same message across all your platforms, resist the urge! Each social media site should carry its own unique message along with the relevant info that you’re sharing.

STALK THE COMPETITION

Keep an eye on the social media accounts of your direct competitors. What kind of marketing campaigns are they attempting? What seems to be performing well for them? What appears to be falling flat? Learn from their successes and their mistakes, come up with your own strategies and solutions, and put them into action.

TRACK YOUR PROGRESS

Most social media platforms – Facebook Page Insights, for example – offer solid feedback on the number of likes, shares, and comments your content has generated. You can delve in even deeper by using web analytics programs to see which platforms are providing the most referral traffic. Pinpoint what’s working and what isn’t, and adapt your methods accordingly as you continue to optimize your approach.

These are just a few of the ways you can use social media to your business’s advantage. Identifying your target audience will help you determine which platforms to use to promote your brand. You don’t need to have a presence on all the major social networking sites, just the ones that make sense for your customers and their online habits. Define your social media goals, identify the various types of content you’ll produce, and determine how you’ll measure your success. With these tools at your disposal, you’ll be well-equipped to take your business to the next level!

If you’re curious to learn more and get started, HighClick Media is here to help. Reach out to us and one of our campaign experts will contact you to chat about your marketing goals. We’ll work hand in hand with your small business to design the perfect strategy that will make your marketing efforts a success! Call us today at 252.814.2150!

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Inactivity on Social Media, Or: How to Kill Your Business in One Easy Step

Inactivity on Social Media, Or: How to Kill Your Business in One Easy Step

Marketers like us are always touting the benefits of establishing a solid presence on social media. We must be cutting through the white noise, at least in part, because more and more brands these days are creating accounts on social media. While this is certainly a huge step in the right direction, simply having a business page on all the trendiest social networking platforms is not enough.

You have to be active.

In truth, it’s quite easy to set up channels on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, Snapchat, and the like — it’s a lot harder to maintain them. It takes time, effort, and resources.

But it’s absolutely essential.

Being active on social media boosts brand awareness, makes it easy to engage with customers, improves your SEO rankings, and allows you to control your own narrative.

Conversely, oft-neglected or poorly managed social media accounts can actually be damaging to your company’s reputation.

Twitter tool ManageFlitter considers social media accounts to be “inactive” when no one has posted on them in over 30 days, while others would deem inactivity to mean that there have been no posts in the past 48 hours.

However you choose to define it, an inactive social media account sends all the wrong messages about your company. Primarily, it communicates the fact that your business doesn’t care enough to be up to speed with today’s technology.

Dormant social media accounts can have immediate negative effects on your business, including — but not limited to — decreased reach, decreased influence, and loss of market share.

7 Reasons Why Social Media Accounts Become Inactive

There are any number of reasons a business’s social media pages might become inactive, but we often see many of the same “excuses” being tossed around:

where did everybody go

The business is..well…out of business.

Maybe the owner retired, decided to move on, or the business simply failed. But, in essence, there is no business. Unfortunately, this fact often isn’t communicated very well, since businesses’ social media pages are rarely shut down upon dissolution.

i don't get it

The business never really understood social media to begin with.

As mentioned before, it’s easy to set up a social media account; but it’s what you do with it going forward that truly matters. Having a strong social media marketing plan, understanding why you’re using it, what message you’re trying to convey, what content you have to post, how to measure your activity, how to convert fans into customers — all these things play a much bigger role than simply setting up your account.

Social media is something businesses are expected to do these days, but that doesn’t mean that business owners or their employees possess the required skill set to achieve the desired results. Not having the knowledge or technical ability to properly use social media is not a valid excuse for abandoning your efforts altogether. Undergoing professional social media training or enlisting the services of an outside company to manage your social accounts are much better solutions.

Business owners have become disillusioned with social media.

Seeing results from your social media campaigns requires patience and a lot of hard work. It’s not a magic pill that fixes all your problems instantly; it’s something you work on for the long term. Social media is often equated with face-to-face networking. First, you build relationships, and over time these relationships can translate into an abundance of new work. But you have to be dedicated and persevere. Give up, and you’re yielding the fight to your competitors.

what do you want me to say

Businesses don’t know what to say on social media.

It’s a standard complaint — how do you find things to say every single day that will energize your audience? Make a note of all the services your business offers, the things you do, the problems you solve, the pains you fix, and the things that interest your customers — down to the smallest details. Determine where the intersection lies between your business and your customers. Ensure that your marketing conveys the right message to the right people at the right time. When in doubt, apply data and insights to back up your gut feelings.

too busy to deal with social media

The business is too busy to deal with social media.

This statement can either be the truth or an excuse for the fact that you simply don’t care for social media. Many customer-facing businesses, such as restaurants and bars, simply don’t have the time to pick up the phone in the middle of a busy evening and respond to or engage with potential customers. Some business owners are genuinely too busy for social media, but they must be honest with themselves about this.

Realistically, two social media platforms should be able to be managed effectively in just thirty minutes a day. Perform a time audit of your typical day, and determine where you might be able to shave a few minutes off several daily tasks in order to make time for your social media management. Or, if there is someone in your office with the required technical, marketing, and customer service skills to manage your social media, see if they can find thirty minutes each day to devote to this task. If neither of these are viable options, outsourcing to a social media management company might be your best bet.

kirsten dunst bye bye

The person managing social media has left the company.

Oftentimes, a business’s social media activity stops dead in its tracks for months or years when the person running social media campaigns has left the company. This is a function that must be replaced, not left dormant.

From a customer’s standpoint, social media has become as important a channel of communication as the phone, emails, or web chats. How much would it concern you, as a business owner, if your phone lines were to go down for an entire morning? Shouldn’t you be worried just as much if your social media is inactive for days, weeks, months, or even years?

kim kardashian lurking

The business is simply “lurking” on social media.

The lurker relates their side of the story something like this: “I don’t post on social media. I just use it as another channel to follow the news and my favorite sports teams.” This is perfectly fine for an individual using social media for fun. For a business, it’s a death knell. This would be tantamount to showing up for a networking meeting and observing the goings-on while hiding in a corner. It just doesn’t work.


pitfalls of business inactivity on social media

 

 

7 Pitfalls of Social Media Inactivity

People Will Think You’re No Longer In Operation

When a social-media-savvy person is searching for a local business in your field and comes across an inactive or seldom-updated page, they might quickly come to the conclusion that you must no longer be in business. This false impression will inevitably exclude your company as an option in the mind of the potential customer. They’ll swiftly forge ahead to find a business that frequently updates their page with fresh content.

Since approximately a third of all small businesses fail in the first three years, it’s not unreasonable to assume that an inactive social media account signifies a business’s closure. However, a neglected social media page could also send the message that nothing new has happened at the business in however-many days — which, if true, makes your business seem as dead as if it were closed, and generally not worth the time of the average consumer.

Your Credibility Will Be Damaged

Customers research a business on social media to scrutinize its values and get a feel for what the business is like. If they’re greeted with an inactive account, the first impression is not favorable. Employees and potential employees will also check out a company’s social pages to see what kind of culture it demonstrates.

Fair or not, companies are judged on their willingness to engage with consumers, their dedication, and their social media presence. An inactive presence does more harm than good.

Inactivity projects the message that the business doesn’t take an active interest in its potential customers. When you’re active on social media, you can control your narrative online. You can communicate your credibility firsthand and attract customers the right way.

Your Customer Service Will Suffer

If you are no longer monitoring your social media accounts, have you communicated that to your online followers? Are there customers tweeting at you for support? Are there issues going unanswered? Social media is a two-way conversation, and if you’re not engaging back, you have no chance of building positive word of mouth or cultivating brand fans.

Savvy internet users will check out reviews or testimonials on Facebook or other social media pages before deciding to try a new business. Consumers want to sense an atmosphere of camaraderie and to know that your business is a well-respected member of the community. If your social media presence is lackluster, chances are you don’t have many (if any) customer reviews on your page — this could be a major turnoff to potential clients.

home alone you're what the french call les incompetents

Your Company Will Appear Incompetent

A subpar social media presence makes your company look unprofessional and amateurish to potential clients. Inactive social media pages give the impression that your business is unable to follow through on obligations and complete tasks.

If that’s what you’re going for, then great! If you’d rather convey the message that your business is equipped to solve problems, combat challenges, and truly serve your customers, it’s time to put in some work on your social media pages.

spongebob squarepants patrick i t hought what we had was special

You Will Start Losing Followers

You’ve heard the popular saying “out of sight, out of mind,” right? This is never more true than when it comes to social media. When you aren’t actively posting to your social media pages, you’re giving your followers the chance to forget about you. Consumers can be a fickle bunch. If you’re suddenly off their radar, they’re going to move on to another brand that grabs their attention.

Marketing is all about consistency, no matter which type of medium you’re using. Staying in front of customers on a regular basis continues to remind them that you’re around and that you can’t wait to see them in your store or office.

Without an active online community, you won’t have loyal followers; and without loyal followers, you will lose potential brand advocates. When your followers aren’t reaching out to engage with you or others about your business, your links are less likely to be shared to social media. This will result in fewer signals being transmitted to Google’s algorithm, which will increase the chances that your keywords will drop in ranking on Google searches. All of which is extremely bad for your business!

zach galifianakis algorithm change

Social Algorithms Will Decrease Your Reach

Brands that become inactive on social media for as little as two weeks can expect to see their reach decrease by an average of ten times! When your page becomes dormant and no one is interacting on it, your posts simply aren’t going to be seen by your followers.

For example, Facebook — the largest social media platform worldwide — has set up their algorithms to determine which posts will show up on people’s news feeds and which will not. This can be directly affected by your not posting for weeks on end.

Inactivity on social media can significantly affect your reach, even when your brand begins posting again. In order to recover, it typically takes around 3 to 5 times the amount of dormancy time in order for engagement and reach to return to their former levels. In other words, if you’re inactive for a week, it could take anywhere from 3 to 5 weeks to get back to your original reach numbers.

marcus lemonis looking nervous lose market share

Your Brand Will Lose Market Share

Periods of social media dormancy create ideal opportunities for competitors to steal your brand’s market share. Savvy brands become more active when the competition slacks off. This means they get lower ad rates and higher CPAs (costs per action), not to mention the bulk of your audience’s attention.

When your followers see less content from you and more from active brands in your field, they will become more receptive to these brands even if they have enjoyed a long and satisfactory history with your brand.

let's get this party started

 

7 Solutions for Reviving Your Social Media Presence

If your business has been silent on social media for too long, it’s time to make a change. It will be an uphill battle, but it’s never too late to kickstart your social media presence. Here are a few pointers to get you back in the game:

i don't understand what just happened here

Evaluate What Went Wrong

In order to learn from your mistakes, it’s important to understand what went wrong before. Did you stop updating your social media pages for one of the reasons stated in an earlier section of this blog — not enough time, insufficient technical ability, unaware of what to say, or frustration due to a lack of instant results — or some other reason?

This is the perfect time to be brutally honest with yourself about why social media didn’t work for you before you decided to stop posting.

schitt's creek you will work until it hurts

Pick a Social Channel and Redouble Your Efforts

Find out which platform (or platforms) your audience is active on, and research best practices so you’ll understand how to reach customers where they already are.

Pinpoint what specific plans you should set in motion for your social media revitalization. Revamp and rejuvenate your platform with fresh energy, resources, and strategy. Commit to being more consistent in your posting.

smart thinking marketing strategy

Develop a Marketing Strategy for Your Channel

Before starting up or refreshing a channel, determine whether this method is going to yield return on investment for your business. Formulate a plan for a successful launch and consistent cadence.

At a bare minimum, coordinate a passive posting schedule for your social media pages. Passive posts include content such as memes, quotes, branding statements, photos, etc. If you don’t have the wherewithal for this kind of content creation, you can always work on expanding upon the content that’s being created by the community about your brand. Never underestimate the potency of a retweet or a cross-shared post. You could also duplicate older posts that are still relevant to your business.

hit your goals cobra kai

Create Attainable Goals for Your Company’s Social Media Presence

It would be awesome if your business could have an active presence on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, and whatever the latest buzzed-about platform may be. But is that actually feasible?

Keeping track of and publishing fresh, relevant content to this many platforms will be extremely challenging, and will most likely result in mismanaged pages, intermittent posting, or inactive accounts.

Touch base with your team to decide on what platforms you can reasonably manage. Take it a step further and consider which social networking sites will best serve your specific audience. Once you’ve determined what platforms will generate the best results and customer advantages for your company, set up only those accounts and develop clear-cut posting objectives.

what is this communication word you speak of?

Communicate

If you’re planning on shutting down any of your inactive social media accounts, be sure to communicate that to your audiences. Let customers know that the page will be “sunset” (phased out) as of a certain date and provide followers with a link redirecting them to the new page.

This keeps your clients in the loop, avoids giving the false impression that you’re no longer in business, and ensures that you’re migrating all your current followers and customers over to the new channels.

let's do this!

Implement Your Plan

There’s absolutely no reason to go through the evaluating and planning stages unless you’re going to put your plan into action. Social media marketing is all about the return on effort, and zero effort nets zero results.

help me help you tom cruise

Partner with a Social Media Marketing Company to Maximize Your Efforts

For small-to-medium-sized businesses, it can be difficult to find a staff member who has the time to commit to managing your social media presence. If this is an issue for your company, consider enlisting the help of an outside party.

A reputable digital marketing company that routinely handles social media can help manage your campaigns and eliminate the stress of keeping your accounts up to date. Such an agency can also help maintain consistency in posting and boost your page engagement, ensuring that more people will see your posts.

i'm a social media mogul

 

 
 

Final Thoughts

Social media should be viewed as an extension of your business. But you must find a way to devote the time and effort to it that you’ve already given to your physical establishment.

While it’s absolutely vital that you have a strong social media presence in this day and age, it’s better to have no social media presence at all than to have a number of inactive accounts. Likewise, it’s better to have a stellar social media presence in just a few places rather than to have a poor presence across many different platforms.

By building a well-thought-out strategy, cutting back on the number of accounts you dedicate your time to, and outsourcing the management of some or all of your social media functions to marketing specialists, you can truly use social media to the fullest advantage.

It’s time for your business to not only exist online, but to thrive.

HighClick Media is a full-service digital marketing agency that specializes in social media marketing and management. Our marketing team understands the importance of a strong social media presence, because we use it every day to elevate our clients’ businesses. By developing a custom marketing strategy, producing quality content, and creating personalized promotions, we guarantee your brand will soar above the competition. Call us today at 252.814.2150 to find out more how we can help grow your business!

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