Marketing is arguably the most important small business expense. In fact, businesses spend over $340 billion a year on marketing.
With all of the tools at your disposal, it’s hard to know if you’re choosing the right marketing strategy for growth. Luckily, we can make that a lot easier.
Let’s talk about growth marketing, what it is, and how your business needs to incorporate it!
What Is Growth Marketing?
Growth marketing is part of overall marketing and it’s directly related to promoting and sustaining the growth of a company or organization. It’s basically the type of marketing you think of most often, as growth is typically the goal of every marketing campaign.
While ads are a part of it, marketing is not advertising. The two are not interchangeable. Marketing is everything you do in your business to grow a customer base, increase sales, and grow your business. This includes far more than putting out advertisements.
There is an endless number of specific moves you can make to try to increase sales. Some are better than others, some are right for your company, and some aren’t. Either way, they fall under two umbrellas. Living in the digital age, a digital content strategy is a key to success. However, traditional or field marketing still have their place.
Traditional Marketing Strategy
No matter what people tell you in the digital age, traditional marketing is not dead. There are plenty of different tactics that have withstood the test of time and are still every bit as beneficial today as they were 40 years ago. The one place where traditional marketing is still thriving is in business-to-business (B2B) sales.
Some of the biggest sales your company will make are to sell your products or services to other businesses. Not only are these typically larger sales, but they also tend to be recurring purchases. Every B2B sale that you can make will likely be a golden ticket to business growth.
Even one B2B sale could be the difference between a startup sinking or floating. Even with only a couple of recurring purchases at a high enough volume could be enough to sustain a business, so these sales are a big concern. How do you make them?
Well, do you want to know something interesting about marketing from business to business? Word of mouth marketing (WOMM) is said to account for 99% of B2B sales. Why is this? Because business leaders only tend to trust business leaders about big purchasing decisions. It’s more reliable than a Google search or a company’s sales team.
Now, the keyword there is influence. It’s not the only factor in making sales to other businesses but it does highlight the importance of providing quality service at an affordable rate. Don’t underestimate the value of WOMM for any of your growth marketing strategies either. However, you can’t rely solely on this.Direct Contact
Make sure you’re marketing directly to businesses as well, especially if your product is needed at other businesses. If your company sells printers, who will need more printers than businesses?
Be proactive and reach out to businesses that could benefit from your services. If your products or services are more of a niche like massage oils or hot sauce, then it will be obvious which businesses you will need to reach out to. Don’t be afraid to ask for the sale once you’ve talked about your product, but there’s one big concern every business will have.Price
Businesses want to find the right products for the right price, that’s what is most important to them. Not being able to offer the same price as an industry giant is one of the hardest obstacles for a small business to clear.
One strategy could be taking a loss initially for a big enough sale. If you run the numbers and make sure that this revenue will allow you to scale your manufacturing or distribution for a cheaper cost, selling these big contracts at a loss to secure the deal could make sense. However, this only makes sense in certain circumstances.
If your company can manage to generate enough revenue from other sales, scaling your manufacturing and distribution should be one of your top priorities to lower your wholesale price is an important next step.Ask For Referrals
If you manage to secure a business contract, don’t stop there. Pass along some business cards and ask your new client to refer your company’s services to others in the industry. Do your best to nurture these client relationships as best as possible and don’t ever burn a bridge!
We don’t mean to imply that B2B sales are unique only to traditional marketing. There is plenty of room for B2B digital marketing as well, it’s just that this is a great place to start exercising your traditional marketing skills.
If you’re making retail or wholesale sales to normal consumers, you should use a few traditional marketing tactics in your overall strategy. Yes, everybody is online, and we’ll talk about plenty of strategies to use in that domain, but you shouldn’t limit your business’ marketing strategy in any way. It’s your number one driver of growth.
Word of mouth advertising is still believed by most marketers to have the highest conversion rates, and it’s said to account for over $6 trillion of consumer spending each year. That’s 13% of all sales.
It makes sense when you think about it. Are you more likely to buy sneakers from the thousandth ad you’ve seen online today or from the place your best friend told you has the best quality for the price and fixed her foot pain? Exactly.
This really shows how important providing quality service is to your marketing strategy. The better it is, the more highlights you have to offer when making sales.
Because WOMM is still so important, business cards are not obsolete. Neither is asking customers who are happy with your services to give you a referral to anybody they know who is looking for your services.
Focus On Retention
One of the keys to sustainable growth is retaining your customers. If your marketing strategy is simply focused on getting new customers, you’ll eventually run out of people within your target audience. Getting customers is half the battle, keeping them is the next.
Often, keeping your customers is even more difficult than getting them in the first place, so what’s the key? Again, offering quality products and services at a decent price goes a long way. However, 69% of consumers say that customer service is critical to their brand loyalty.
Because of this, customer-driven businesses tend to have the largest scale. Think about Amazon. They’re known for having the easiest return policies, the fastest and most helpful customer service hotline, and for being “customer-obsessed”. Where are they in the business world? At the very, very top.
There are ways to facilitate customer retention beyond customer service, and that’s where the world of digital marketing comes into play.
Digital Marketing Strategy
There is no way around it. If you want to compete in today’s business world, you can’t even enter the game without a digital marketing strategy. Traditional marketing is still alive and well, and your business can benefit greatly from it. However, there is no access to the scale of consumers that can be found online.
4.66 billion people have regular access to the internet, which is something that flyers, newspaper ads, and business cards just can’t match. Just remember, your online presence starts with a website.
You need a website in order to think about a digital marketing strategy. You won’t be in business for long without one. Where are your business cards trying to direct people? Where will your ad campaigns bring people who click on them? How will Google rank something that doesn’t exist?
If you don’t have a website, there’s no point in even considering a growth marketing strategy. You need to have a user-friendly, easy-to-navigate, and mobile-friendly site where customers can find out any information they want to know about your company. That is step one in the entire customer journey.
Don’t neglect the user-friendly aspect either. The page speeds have to be fast and your menu has to be easy to navigate. That’s non-negotiable for the purposes of SEO, ad conversions, and overall customer experience. Believe it or not, most consumers expect a page to load in under 2 seconds, and 40% will leave the page if it doesn’t load within 3.
This is your best friend when it comes to customer retention. If you leave a prompt when customers sign up for your website or order something from you, you’ll have the opportunity to reach out directly to your previous customers and remind them of how great your product or service is.
You can ask them for feedback to improve your business’s experience for future customers, you can put out promotions, ask for referrals, and you can even prompt them to buy something new.
If your business sells contact lenses, people typically order a 3 to 6 month supply, so send a follow-up around that time for them to reorder from you. They may not remember which company they ordered from, so giving them a reminder could mean guaranteed, long-term business with these customers.
If you’re running promotions, they will also be able to forward them directly to their friends, family, and coworkers. This increases your chances of each email making a conversion (sale).
Literally, more than half the world is on social media, making this a great ally for finding your target audience. No matter the age range, location, income level, or any other factor you want to target, they will be found on one platform or another.
You have the world at your feet here, and the platform doesn’t matter too much. If you’re looking for a younger demographic in the Gen Z/Millennial range, Instagram and TikTok are a good place to start. Older millennials, Gen X, and even Boomers will be easier to target on Facebook.
While Facebook still has the largest audience, TikTok is the fastest growing platform and has sustained that spot for over a year now. Depending on the nature of your company, diversifying your platforms is likely a good idea.
If your business is a video editing company, then YouTube or TikTok looks like the best option on paper. However, there’s a place for this on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and virtually every other platform where you could easily show off your company’s services.Optimize Your Profile
First of all, start a business account on whatever platform you choose. From there, you want to add a profile picture. Make this something legible and easy to recognize. Your company logo is great for building a visual brand identity and making it easier to recognize the company.
Then you want your name to just be the company title, and maybe the briefest possible description if your company name isn’t related to the services. So if your company is called a unique word or a personal name that nobody will recognize right away, follow it up with “pet supplies” or “flower store” in the title.
Next, you want a bio. You want this to be short, sweet, and to the point. Nothing else. No filler, no fluff. A brief description of your company followed with a link to your website or contact information, depending on the nature of your business. “Local seafood restaurant in Portland, Maine. Check out our menu here” with a link to your website immediately after. That’s good enough.
Post Relevant Content
Post content that’s relatable to the public and relevant to your business. People don’t want to see commercials when they’re scrolling through their social media feeds. Try to post entertaining content without it seeming like a TV ad. If you don’t understand how to do that, pay attention to viral content on the platform and see what people like and how you can incorporate it.
Don’t underestimate the value of humor. People love “fail videos”, so it doesn’t matter if you sell tools, sleds, fruit, post funny fail content and caption it with something clever related to your business. A funny video of someone falling off a ladder, followed by “Only fools use generic ladders” would be a funny caption if your profile title was “Billy’s Ladder Store”.
There’s no magic formula for a viral post. Do your best, be consistent, and something will eventually stick. Be sure to post at the optimal times, use plenty of hashtags, and watch what’s trending. This will give you the best chances.Interact With The Public
Comment on viral posts, especially if they’re related to your company’s services. Again, use humor where you can, but keep it professional. There are thousands of cat and dog videos where a pet supply shop could have a field day, and there are a lot of athletic videos where sports gear stores could do the same! Keep looking for opportunities!
This is a great way to build followers without posting unique content, and it also promotes a “human” feel to your company rather than just another robot account, which people appreciate.
Also, don’t be shy about responding to questions or comments publicly. If someone comments on your post and asks a question, give them an answer. If someone compliments your business or says something positive, share it and give them a shoutout. That’s an excellent way to facilitate brand loyalty and promote other consumers to try the same thing. It also looks good for your business to take the time to interact with random people.Post Promotions
This is a great way to get a jumpstart on followers. People love posts like “Enter for a chance to win a trip to Bermuda”. Of course, you don’t have to spend that much on the promotion.
Sell guitar equipment? “Like, share, and follow for a chance to win a free, custom loop pedal.”
This is a great way to start bringing in traffic. You’ll undoubtedly get at least some takers as they’ll have nothing to lose but something to gain. Try it out! Engaged customers are retained customers.
If you’re not convinced about the importance of this, check out some campaigns that rocked social media.
Search Engine Optimization
Now we’re getting into the fun stuff. Okay, for many beginners, this process sounds really intimidating. There are a lot of big words and a lot of technical nonsense that you don’t understand. However, it’s actually really simple, and it’s probably a lot more profitable for your marketing strategy than your ad campaigns when you factor in every dollar spent and every dollar earned.
SEO is the process of using the proper keywords, structures, links, and more in order to rank higher on a Google search. Why is this important? It generates organic traffic. Traffic that was sought out and didn’t come from putting an ad in someone’s face.
The top 3 spots on every Google search, whether it’s about cookie recipes or auto repair shops, will get the majority of the traffic from every page on the search combined. Take a second to think about how important that is. The people who seek out the product or service you offer are the ones most likely to purchase from you if prompted, making it critical that your company appears before them when they do seek it out.
The good news is that if you’re a local grocery store, you only have to compete with other local grocery stores, making it a lot easier to rank on the top when people search for “grocery stores near me”. This could easily be your golden ticket to growth. However, if neglected, it could be your ticket to failure.
Let’s face the facts. Showing up on the first page of Google instead of the third could be the difference between a company sinking or swimming. Here’s what you can do to optimize your content.Start A Blog
Assuming you already have a website, you need to add a blog to it. Don’t count this out or overlook this. If your competition doesn’t have a blog on their site, then you have the chance to seize the top spot in a matter of time.
The reason for this is that people often search for information on Google rather than a product or service. A blog is your chance to both offer that information and then prompt them for a sale. For example, if you sell makeup, you could have articles like:
- “Why is my makeup clumping so much?”
- “My makeup remover isn’t working, what else can I try?”
- “Best makeup brands in 2021.”
- “How to choose cruelty-free makeup products”
You don’t have to stop there. There are so many more topics you could write about and then you can prompt the reader to check out your inventory at the end of the article. People will be searching for this information anyway, so why not take the opportunity to introduce them to your brand?
A blog also offers the advantage of additional chances to rank higher on Google. Not only will optimizing each article for Google help you, but it will increase your odds of success the more that you publish. If your website has 5 or 6 pages on it, that’s only 5 or 6 chances to rank highly on Google, and that’s only for very specific searches.
However, you could have a thousand chances to rank highly on Google once you have a thousand blog articles.Keywords
Use the right keywords throughout your website, but particularly on your blog. Sticking with that last example, a solid keyword that could show up in a number of different searches could be “cruelty-free makeup”. This will be different for every business, but let’s pretend that’s what you sell.
On your homepage, about us, and other pages, add this keyword as much as possible without making it too unnatural. Then, add it to your blog posts. Aim to put it in your intro, one header, and your conclusion. You can sprinkle it more throughout the article, but that’s a good place to start.
From there, use secondary keywords that could be searched for like “no animal testing”, “best cruelty-free products”, or “organic makeup” and scatter them throughout the post.Improve Your Website
Remember how we mentioned the importance of mobile friendliness and page speed? Google factors these into their rankings.
If nothing else convinces you to improve your website’s user-friendliness, let it be this. Google takes this seriously. Over half of all web traffic is on mobile devices, so your page needs to be fast and easy-to-use on those devices.
If your competitors aren’t living up to this, this is another golden ticket situation. Improve your site and get a ticket to the top of the search and improve your customer experience once they find you!Backlinks
This is the most important ranking factor that is off your website. That’s right. Your website has nothing to do with this. Google ranks your off-page status by the number of links to your site from other sites.
Basically, you could write the best article about ice fishing in history and publish it on your brand new blog. It could be the most detailed, thought-out guide to ice fishing in the entire world. Then, CNN could write 500 sloppy words about ice fishing and when somebody searches “ice fishing guide” on Google, they will still see CNN’s first.
This is because CNN is linked to hundreds, if not thousands, of times a day. They’ll announce something, and then a thousand of other blogs will link to them as their sources. It won’t just be blogs linking either. The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and others will do the exact same if the news is big enough.
Why does that matter? Because the NYT and the WSJ already have that same foundation of backlinks as CNN, making them goliaths in the industry. One link from them is like a link from dozens of small-time blogs.
Getting backlinks from Forbes or the Washington Post is a challenge but you do need to focus on building quality backlinks in order to really thrive in your SEO strategy.
Okay, we’re finally here! While we’ve made a few comments about other techniques being more effective than ads, that does not mean you shouldn’t use them! Advertisements, when done right, are extremely effective.
There is a catch that comes with ads. If you can overcome it, then the sky is the limit. The catch is that people are now exposed to an average of 5,000 ads a day. Why is that a catch? Because everybody is so used to seeing them, so your ad needs to stand out.
If you see 5,000 ants walking together, is one going to stand out to you? Maybe. Maybe one is carrying a big leaf all by herself. Maybe one is walking in the opposite direction of the other ants. There are a few things they could be doing to grab your attention.
Again, an engaged customer is a customer you keep. You need to make sure that your business is standing out to them when they see your ad. If you see video ads, banner ads, pop-ups, search ads, and more every day, the content has to be gripping to work.
However, if they click on your PPC ad and don’t buy anything, you wasted your money. Before focusing on the content of the ad, make sure your landing page is golden and that your website is easy to navigate.PPC Ads
Pay-per-click ads are a popular structure of online advertising where you’ll only need to pay a small amount for every click your ad receives. This is excellent if your ad has high conversion rates or if you’re a small business looking for growth with limited cash on hand.
These could be display ads, which are the ads you probably think of the most. These are the ones you see when you’re scrolling through a news article, on the side of a blog, or at the top of a homepage.Search Ads
Search ads can also fall into the PPC structure, but they have an added advantage over display ads. They appear ahead of the organic searches on Google, making them the first thing you see.
While it’s true that the top organic result will get the most traffic, Google’s format has changed the look of search ads to be less distinguishable, which is great for skipping the line!Video Ads
These ads are typically pay-per-view, and usually cost between 10 and 30 cents per view. This adds up if your ad has limited engagement or conversion rates, but can be excellent if you run a business that needs a video format to display your product.
These typically give you between 5 and 30 seconds to make your pitch, often followed up by a display ad after the video ends. If you’re trying to demonstrate a video game, an app on your phone, or a music streaming service, this should definitely be in your ad strategy.
There’s a lot involved in marketing, and having the right growth marketing team will be your best bet for growing your business. An experienced growth marketer will give you the best services for the right price and make sure your business gets the boost that it needs.
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