The way companies and consumers connect has changed a lot in the last few years.
Have your marketing and communication tactics evolved alongside these changes?
Consumers have high expectations for the companies they do business with today. It’s no longer enough to offer the best products or services – consumers seek entertaining content, personalized experiences, and online convenience on top of what they want to buy from you.
For small business owners, this presents a conundrum: What marketing and communication tactics should you use now, and which should you avoid?
This guide reveals some common marketing tactics small businesses still commonly use that they shouldn’t, along with alternatives that will help businesses like yours better connect with today’s consumers.
Mistake 1: Simplistic Segmentation
Many business owners use basic demographic data, such as age, education, income, gender, or zip code, to target consumers with messages in media that are right for them. Segmenting your audience with basic data may have worked in the past, but today, advanced analytics can allow you to connect on a deeper level.
People aren’t just their demographic data. They’re more than just their age or income. Their thoughts, feelings, and beliefs deeply inform their motivations and desires. This is where psychographics come in. This psychological classification makes it possible to develop campaigns around five different mindsets and the attitudes and feelings associated with them:
Affordability-first consumers are focused on living within their means. They budget their money carefully. They also want to purchase quality products that work. Guarantees are vital to them.
Health-first customers want to protect their health and well-being. It’s priority one. They insist on products and services that are safe, and they’re always looking to minimize risk.
Planet-first consumers are environmentally-conscious. They want to minimize harm to the earth above all else.
Society-first consumers want to purchase things that contribute to the greater good. They seek out honest and transparent organizations and brands committed to positive social causes.
Experience-first consumers enjoy making the most of life. They are adventurous in their purchasing habits. These people are very open to trying new and different products and services.
Think about how much more powerful your marketing will be if you could reach people inside their heads and hearts instead of just through surface features and characteristics. Don’t give up on targeting people based on demographics, of course – you need to message to teens differently than you would to seniors. But adding a psychographic segment to each customer on your list could take your marketing to a whole new level.
Mistake 2: Sharing Promoted Posts Only
Promoted social media posts are essential. They’re a proven way to bring in new business.
However, social media should be just that: social.
You wouldn’t want to attend a social event and receive sales offers from the other guests the entire time. The same is true on social media platforms. People use Facebook, Instagram, and other social sites to engage in conversations and learn things. If some of those exchanges result in sales, all the better.
According to a report in Sprout Social, 86 percent of social media users follow brands, yet nearly 60 percent are annoyed with too much brand promotion. The same source also reports that one in four people becomes annoyed when a brand doesn’t respond to their comments on social media.
If you’re constantly using your social media accounts to promote your business, it’s time to make a change. Instead, use these platforms to entertain, educate, and engage with consumers. Consider posting user-generated content. Communicate more than your products and services. Consumers today care about your company’s mission, values, beliefs, and ideas, as well as your products and services. Share these ideals on your socials and get people talking about them. You’ll be amazed how much goodwill — and how many sales — it could generate.
Mistake 3: Marketing to the Masses
In the recent past, going viral was the ultimate marketing goal most small business owners strived for. They wanted to have a video or social post reach as many people as possible to build brand awareness.
The issue with this approach, however, is that viral marketing isn’t sustainable. It’s one-and-done, and you never know when it might happen again. People quickly move on to the next thing, too. As a result, virality is not a sustainable source of sales.
Today’s mantra: Less is more.
Every person is unique and expects their uniqueness to be recognized. Blanket personalization is a thing of the past. Consumers appreciate businesses that serve them exactly what they want, how they want it, and when they want it. The consumer experience must be frictionless, anticipatory, relevant, and connected.
What are the implications of this for your marketing? Replace generic, one-size-fits-all email newsletters and marketing tactics with outreach campaigns that integrate information based on customer purchase history data. Take time to figure out how your mass outreach campaigns can slowly, over time, be broken into more targeted marketing and messaging.
Mistake 4: Separating Marketing from Sales and Service
Many businesses silo their marketing efforts from their sales and customer service teams. If you do this, you could be doing a disservice to your company.
Today’s consumers expect a seamless experience from marketing to sales to ongoing service.
As you move into the future, come up with ways for marketing, sales, and customer service to work together to develop a cohesive end-to-end experience for your consumers. For example, if you have a marketing campaign running, sales should know about it so they can talk about it on their calls, and customer service reps must be able to promote it to current customers. Everyone should be trained on how to use key brand messages consistently.
Small business owners should walk through their complete customer experience – this can help identify gaps and disconnects that could alienate prospective buyers.
Mistake 5: Depending on a Single Type of Content
Most small businesses have limited marketing budgets. Many owners believe it makes sense to maximize their money by investing in a single type of content.
Nothing could be further from the truth – that is, unless you know your target audience is homogeneous and only uses a single type of media, like videos or text-based content.
By creating a single type of content (videos, for instance), you could lose a whole universe of readers. Or, by ignoring video, you’ll likely pass by swarms of eager watchers who don’t have the time or interest for reading.
Businesses need to integrate different types of content into their marketing, including videos, blogs, images, gifs, and audio. Talk to your current customers about their media preferences and add them to your marketing mix.
How many of these outdated marketing practices are you still using? Don’t be embarrassed. Many businesses still are! The good news is that a few simple changes to your marketing tactics and practices will keep you on the cutting edge.