Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Andrew Gazdecki, founder and CEO of Bizness Apps. Bizness Apps creates mobile solutions suited for local businesses with small budgets and big ideas. Bizness Apps allows the ultimate customer connection through mobile apps that create a digital connection to your customer’s mobile phones for commerce, loyalty, reviews, referrals, communication, and more. He reached out to Verblio (formerly BlogMutt) and we worked together on this post. If you’d like to submit a guest post, please contact us.
Social media has permeated every aspect of many people’s lives. It’s changed the game.
We keep in touch with friends and relatives, both near and far. We read the news and human-interest stories. We donate to charities, express our opinions, learn new hobbies, and see great new products and services.
For small business owners, users’ familiarity with and reliance on social media has changed the playing field for marketing. As a result, today’s consumer expects business owners to create a clear brand identity, provide informative content, and reach out and interact with them personally (which is usually best served on social media).
If you want to grow your digital agency in 2017, you need to keep a few things in mind and keep meeting your clients where they have the most to gain.
Differentiate Yourself From the Crowd
Consumers expect great graphics and images. So…don’t disappoint them! Define your brand with well-designed logos and graphics. Use clear, appealing pictures and maintain consistency in your style. These go a long way on social media.
One of the best ways to set your brand above your competition is to build a mobile app. Tailored to your business, a mobile app allows you to interact with your customers with push notifications and content delivery.
(And pssst: Developing a mobile app can be cost-effective when using one of the top app makers.)
Create Great Content
Traditional marketing channels like radio, newspaper, and television advertisements have become diluted as they have become readily available to more agencies, businesses, and service providers.
If you want today’s customers to pay attention to your message, you’ll need to go beyond the “advertisement” and present engaging content. Use blog posts and social media outlets to promote your brand and show off your expertise. Make this connection with your consumers without being overly aggressive and promotional. Great content lets you develop a relationship and avoid a “hard sell” approach that turns off so many modern consumers.
Make Testimonials & Referrals Part of Your Strategy
Social media, online retailer websites, and the proliferation of reviews influencing buying decisions have made user input a vital part of any business’s marketing plan. Let your best clients sell your brand with you.
Make sure each testimonial features a particular aspect of your service or products and has a personal comment or series of data points.
Create a loyalty program that rewards customers for referrals, too. Satisfied customers are some of the best marketers around, especially for a local agency or business.
Great Marketing Is a Team Effort
To do all of this, the small business or agency starting out needs to develop its marketing team with particular skills in mind. Identify the stakeholders who can best perform each role, knowing that in a startup, the team members might have multiple responsibilities. Involving current staff members in the marketing plan can build leadership and management skills that will benefit business as it grows.
The team will be led by THE VISIONARY. This person knows the ins and outs of the firm as a whole – the goals, values, and day-to-day workings. The visionary sets the tone, identifies the strategy, coordinates the team, and makes the decisions regarding the marketing plan.
THE PROJECT MANAGER is responsible for the execution of the marketing plan once the strategy is clearly defined. The project manager identifies the steps necessary to implement the strategy and assembles a marketing team with all the necessary skills. A first responsibility for the project manager will be to determine which skills are present in-house and what external resources will be needed to carry out the strategy at a high level of quality.
Every great content marketing plan needs a STORYTELLER to create the story that will connect with your customers. Do you have an employee who tells a great story? Recounts her adventures, so everyone can’t help but listen? Can she convert an everyday occurrence into a fun tale?
Let that person craft your story and be the creator of your content. It is best to have a few primary storytellers to keep the voice consistent (except for occasional guest posts or outsourcing by a company like Verblio to help with the workload).
Sometimes our best storytellers are not good at the detail work, meaning you will need an EDITOR on your team. This is a small but crucial role. The editor reviews the content for punctuation, polish, and power. In addition to making sure the content is grammatically correct, she must also ensure the voice is consistent and compelling for the target audience.
The CREATIVE team member works with graphic design and images to improve the user experience. Multimedia experience is useful, but the most important skills for the creative is a good eye for color and design and the ability to represent the brand visually and entice.
The online environment is highly visual; good quality and stylish design are an absolute necessity.
The TECHNICAL DIRECTOR directs the actual online implementation of the strategy. The responsibilities of this role vary, depending on the strategy and target audience, but the technical director must be comfortable with a variety of online media channels and be able to both create and post content.
- Pinterest is one of the fastest growing social media platforms and can easily be integrated with e-commerce.
- Facebook posts and video reach ever-expanding global audiences.
- Instagram and blog posts that incorporate video are vital parts of the strategy if the target audience is younger.
Your technical director must create and follow a schedule to update the content regularly. Smaller businesses or agencies just starting up sometimes assume a mobile app is beyond their reach, but non-tech-savvy people can use an app maker to create a customized app for a small investment. App development might be a skill beyond your in-house tech director’s expertise level, but this is a marketing trend you don’t want to ignore.
Big companies have the luxury of employing a whole department for marketing. In the past, the marketing department would have been staffed with people possessing business degrees or highly specialized skills. The modern marketing department, however, relies on “hybrids.” Even in the largest companies, marketers must have multiple skills—the tech-savvy storyteller, for example, or the creative project manager.
The trend toward multi-skilled marketing team members bodes well for small businesses. Look within your organization to find employees who are already social media users or storytellers or project managers. Who better to define your brand, create great content, and deliver your message to users than the people who already work for you? Who better to connect with current clients to get those testimonials? Harness and develop this talent and you have created your dream team.