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Marketing has changed dramatically in the last 20 years, and the pace of change isn’t likely to slow down. Keeping up doesn’t mean jumping on every short-term trend, but instead being aware of the long-term changes and adapting your marketing accordingly.
As a small business owner, what are some of the changes you need to make to keep your marketing relevant in the 21st century? Let’s take a look.
People have never liked ads that interrupted their activities, but in the 21st century they rarely even respond to these kinds of ads anymore. Technology has given consumers a lot more control over the content they consume, and over-exposure has also created ad blindness.
Today’s marketing, in order to be effective, needs to create an experience the customer enjoys. That means deeply understanding your target audience’s needs and tailoring your message and marketing to meet those needs.
This approach can be as simple as realizing that people often Google search for “how to fix a clogged drain” and that your plumbing company could benefit from having an informative article on the topic. It can be as in-depth as mapping the customer’s journey through your website, email marketing, and social media touchpoints and making sure each contact builds trust.
What you cannot do is ignore the customer’s experience of your marketing. If your outreach isn’t meeting customer needs in the right way at the right time, your business will fall well behind your competitors.
This concept is easier for small businesses to understand than larger corporations because you’re used to having your employees play multiple roles. However, this idea goes beyond having every team member upsell or refer your company to friends and family.
Companies also need to create a customer-first culture, so that all employees understand that the customer experience is front-and-center every time they interact with the company. A surly receptionist scheduling an appointment can cost you a customer. So can poor customer service after the sale.
How do you create a culture where your employees all value customers and treat them well every time? Primarily by giving your employees the same support and consideration you expect them to give others. When you have excellent compensation, fair work, and good communication within the business, that culture will spill over into customer service.
For too long business marketing was focused on creating personas and fleshing out this imaginary ideal customer. Unfortunately, that individual may not exist! Instead, build your customer personas around your actual customers by talking to them about their needs, desires, and how your business can solve their problems.
Instead of inventing “Eddie from Etobicoke”, use your real customer Bob who lives in The Queensway with his family. Base your targeting on him, and people who buy from you who are like him, rather than inventing a personality.
The only way to do that is to talk to your current customers. You can survey them, but also talk to them in person or over the phone to find out what they like most — and least — about your business. You can’t target your marketing if you don’t know your customers!
If you want to know how marketing is changing in this new era, we can answer in one word: Data. The amount of data available from every marketing campaign is mind-blowing, and if you can take advantage of it, it can help you get far better ROI than you ever thought possible.
For example, you can run two ads on Facebook that are the same except for the headline. Which one performs better? That’s the one whose headline you keep. You can do the same for images, specific parts of the messaging, and the call to action.
By the time you’re done testing, you have the perfect ad that your audience will respond to. Not only that, you have tremendous insight into what makes your target market tick, which you can use on your website, blog posts, and all other marketing assets.
Best of all? The testing is extremely inexpensive. You can set any budget for a Facebook ad, so you could potentially create the perfect, market-tested ad for less than $500. That’s never been possible before!
These changes are just scratching the surface of today’s marketing, but they are the most important elements. Customers today expect a personalized experience and excellent customer service from every employee. At the same time, it’s easier than ever to find out more about what makes your ideal customer respond to your marketing.
If you’re not poised to take advantage of these new opportunities, we can help. Local SEO Search has helped thousands of small businesses succeed and grow using digital marketing. Contact us today to learn more!