As a business owner or an entrepreneur starting your own business, you should have some idea of what your business strategy is and how you are going to implement it.
How will you generate brand awareness?
How will you turn awareness into sales?
These questions are all too familiar to business owners from all industries when implementing a business strategy and according to Forbes, can be answered through the use of online marketing.
These marketing professionals give you valuable insights and expert guidance on how you can improve your business strategy today.
So who are these professionals?
Helen Lindop is an online trainer who teaches online marketing to micro business owners to improve their business strategy. Powered by tea and chocolate, you can find out more about her and her services here on her website.
Neila Romdane is a French freelance marketer and also a lecturer for the European Communication School in Bruxelles. Neilia is also an author and was a co-writer of a book on Web Marketing called “Internet Marketing 2013”.
Marian Murphy is the founder of Flourish With Social Media, a company that provides businesses with social media training, monthly management and consultancy with a business strategy & development focus.
1. What do you think is the most important characteristic of a successful marketer?
One of the big lessons I’ve learned from becoming a marketer is that you need a range of different skills to succeed. Some are people skills, like being able to really listen and understand people’s challenges so you can find a way to solve them and some are analytical, such as looking at data to see which campaigns are the most effective. But I think the most important characteristics is to be able to identify needs and work through possible solutions until you find one that your customers not only want, but are happy to pay for. Get that right and everything else follows.
For me, the most important thing is to keep yourself up to date with competitors and being able to build a great team around yourself. Marketing changes a lot, it is social content and you can’t be an expert at everything. As a marketer you have to keep an eye on everything but also bring together the right team players.
I think consistency is the key characteristic of a successful marketer. Through consistency, a successful marketer will constantly be evaluating new and existing marketing channels, consistently measuring results using different marketing tools, consistently creating content for newsletters and social media channels that offers value to target customers, consistently connecting with target businesses, consistently following up with new connections targeted, and converting those connections into face to face meetings. Through consistency the successful marketer will generate revenue.
2. What advice would you give to a start-up to start generating sales as fast as possible?
I think the best way to start generating sales is by picking a hungry market. It’s a lot easier to sell if you have something that people desperately want.
You want to start selling your product ASAP! Try different channels, keep track of as much data as you can, split test, and make good decisions fast. Don’t be afraid to cut some channels down early in the process and keep the best running. Also, be very clear on the ‘why’.
One size does not fit all. Every business is individual. There are many aspects new businesses differ on including whether they are selling a product or service, their target market, their target locations, global or local and whether they are selling online or are a bricks and mortar store. Also do they have a budget for Google Adwords, social media advertising or other forms of advertising? If the start-up is relying on online sales, they need to have a fully optimised and mobile friendly website so people can find them easily when they do a Google search. From the 21st April 2015 Google is prioritising Mobile Friendly Sites. Previously it was a ‘nice to have’, now it is absolutely necessary according to experts in web design. Businesses who don’t have a mobile friendly site could be seriously affected. Start-Ups must make it as easy as possible for customers to make a purchase when they get to their site. I have come across a few ‘clunky’ websites of late when trying to make a purchase and it really is off putting. The buying process should be slick and user friendly. The customer should not be searching for how to get to the next step.When using social media channels for business, the start-up should include links to its website making it as easy as possible for people to make a purchase or contact the business to book a service. Every start up should include authentic testimonials from credible sources of their product or service so potential customers can be confident in their purchase.
3. Which digital marketing channels have your clients been the most (and least) convinced of?
I teach very small business owners to do their own social media, and this type of client is often convinced by word of mouth. So if a business contact of theirs is doing well with a channel they’ll naturally want to know more about it. Their familiarity and confort level with a platform is important too, some micro businesses love Twitter and use it very effectively to get clients or PR, others tell me they can’t see how anyone could possibly get anything of value from the hundreds of random tweets on their screen!
That’s a hard question I am working with startups most of the time on their community strategy. My job is to create or identify and scale the community inside their users.I would say that the best social channels to create traction has been Facebook especially with Facebook groups. For me Facebook is the best place to watch out for conversation while Twitter is better to listen to the community. For ‘likes’ use Facebook but for compliments and complaints Twitter is the place to be.
The least would probably be all the “new” social channels like Vine or Snapchat that are more Content generation or curation channels than return on investment (ROI)ones. It’s very hard to measure the impact on sales.
Clients working B2B would rate LinkedIn very highly as it is very business focussed and does not include posts they consider minutiae that you can find on Twitter or Facebook. They find it of great value to be able to connect to decision makers who they can then follow up with a call or a visit. Feeling comfortable on LinkedIn as they do not have to show their personality or emotions.Clients who are working B2C dealing with the general public would rate Facebook for its more laid back, personable focus where they can ‘shoot the breeze’ and get to know their customers in a more relaxed and intimate way. They can ask their audience for their opinions on various aspects of their products or business so it is a very interactive experience for both the business and the audience. It also provides a better visual stage for imagery and video.Creative businesses e.g. artists, fashion designers, garden designers like Pinterest and Instagram to display their work in a more visually focussed way. I also recently interviewed an artist whose favourite channel is Twitter for its spontaneity and for building relationships.
4. What’s your most used tool in online marketing? Why do you prefer this tool in particular over it’s competitors?
I’ve been using Hootsuite since I first got my Twitter account in 2009. My theory is that I use the simplest and least expensive tool that does the job well and only upgrade when I need to. My clients are working with small budgets and I want to use what they use so that my training is as relevant as I can possibly make it. So I haven’t actually needed to upgrade from Hootsuite yet!
I am big fan of IFTTT and I don’t really know any competitors for them. I am working with startups so it’s very important for them to start their automation early. They have small budget and no time. Every tool that can help like canva, buffer or tweetdeck are welcomed!Otherwise I would like to mention Slack which is the best tool to communicate between members of a team.
I like Plag** right now as a new social network app and I am trying different technique, to test content that’s a great tool.
I use Hootsuite as my social media dashboard where I can manage all my social media accounts from. I became qualified as a Hootsuite Certified Professional so I could teach my clients how to use it or to set up their social media channels to save them time and have a dynamic view on what was happening on all channels. It also has very in-depth reporting, content generating and many other fantastic features. There are other social media dashboards which I have looked at but I found Hootsuite well established, very stable, innovative and was very reasonable with its monthly fee.
5. If there was one piece of advice you could go back and give yourself before starting out in online marketing, what would it be and why?
One of the hardest aspects of online marketing has been striking that balance between testing out new ideas on the one hand but having enough focus to stick with a plan until you see results on the other. Make provisions for trying out new ideas in your business strategy and open up the possibility of first mover’s advantage. There are so many possibilities in online marketing and it changes so fast that in the early days I didn’t know what to try for the best. So my advice would be to have a clear goal, whether that’s a number of subscribers on a mailing list, sales or visitors to a website and then track your results against that goal for a defined length of time, say three months. What I actually did was try something new every week! I learned a lot but it took a long time to see many results.
I would advise myself to write a blog, I still don’t do it. Especially because I work with British startups and English is not my first language but it’s the best way to get familiar with content/seo and market yourself. Be sure to add dedicated time for blogging in your business strategy!
Set up an email newsletter – I have started one recently but I wish I had done this from the start. Part of your business strategy should be finding ways to stay in the minds of business people you meet along the way at least every month. I am now interviewing different businesses about their experiences and successes using social media and publishing it on my newsletter. Other businesses have found it really insightful and of great value to them. Publishing a newsletter every month is also a great discipline for creating new articles of value to my audience which I can use both for my blog and social media channels.
Start Using This Professional Advice To Improve Your Business Strategy
We would like to take this opportunity to thank our marketing professionals for their in depth answers and appreciate their insight into the marketing aspect of a business strategy. What advice would you say is the most important or valuable for you? What more would you like to know about marketing in your business strategy?