“Principles of Online Marketing.” I realise it may be a surprise to see the words ‘principles’ and ‘marketing’ in the same sentence.
But the principles of online marketing do exist, and they apply equally to all users of digital marketing, from big agencies to small business owners. With particular relevance on social media.
We all live within the guidelines of principles. Therefore you may instinctively understand the principles of online marketing I am about to show you. However, I often see people ignoring them — which has inspired me to write this blog post. Because, it’s important to acknowledge that going against them means you’ll struggle to get results and, in the worst-case scenario, risk ruining your reputation.
# 1 BUILD RELATIONSHIPS WITH YOUR AUDIENCE
Fifty years ago, the focus of marketers was to interrupt as many people as possible by pushing their advertising at people while relaxing at home. They believed that consumers would be more susceptible to advertising messages when in the relaxed state of watching tv, listening to the radio or reading their newspapers. They filled letterboxes with direct mail and hoped that when consumers needed a product or service, theirs would be the first to spring to mind. And all sorts of outrageous claims were made in their mission to persuade you to buy. None of which were related to building relationships, and some were downright disturbing.
It’s unbelievable to consider that advertising executives thought this type of marketing would sell their products!
We may have moved forward in the way we ‘do’ marketing but there are still many business owners who insist on marketing the old way. They introduce themselves, then push their product or service at you. And it’s particularly rampant on LinkedIn.
HOW TO BUILD RELATIONSHIPS
- Focus on making connections and building relationships with people.
- Allow your prospects to get to know you and to understand what you stand for.
- Show your audience that you understand the problems they are having and that you can help them.
- And above all, be social while using social media. Don’t sell to someone you’ve only just been introduced to—people find that annoying. Get to know your new connection, ask them questions about what they do. Start developing a relationship.
#2 BE CONSISTENT WITH PUBLISHING
Publishing content randomly is detrimental to your business and to the growth of your audience. Your audience expects to see regular content from you and when they don’t, they move on to someone else, and most likely that’s your competition.
On social media, your reach status drops when there are long periods between publishing, and over time, the algorithm ceases to display any new posts in your audiences’ newsfeeds. Which means that you’ve lost all that you had previously achieved.
Why risk all that you have achieved?
Consistency is one of the hardest things to maintain as a small business but is it crucial to getting results.
- Consistency is what builds momentum. So, whatever content you create – such as blog posts, videos, podcasts or social media posts it’s key that you develop a publishing schedule. Having one will help you to focus your content as well as ensure that you’re posting regularly.
- For social media, use a scheduling app such as plannthat, later or meetedgar to schedule your posts. Or, for Facebook and Instagram, you can schedule posts using the Facebook Business Suite.
- Keep going. It takes dedication, focus and time to get known and to build an audience, but with consistency and good content, you will reap the rewards. As the saying goes, “marketing is a marathon, not a sprint”.
The 12 Brand Archetypes
#3 BE CONSISTENT WITH BRANDING
Constantly changing the look and feel of your brand and publishing content that doesn’t align with your message, weakens your brand and creates confusion in your audiences’ minds, about what you do. It also makes it more challenging to maintain publishing momentum because you will often struggle to develop content ideas.
- Ensure that wherever your content appears online, it reflects your brand strategy. Having brand consistency helps people recognise, relate to, and remember you. It helps focus your content and, over time, works to establish trust and authority in your business.
#4 BE KIND
Social media is a tool for growing your reputation. One bad mistake can ruin all you’ve worked to achieve. Not only will poor behaviour like gossiping, trolling or badmouthing ruin the recipient’s day, but other people will see your comment and react negatively. Your reputation will suffer, and people will stop following you.
- If you’re ever tempted to make a negative comment think about how that will land. Always respond with respect and kindness because every comment reflects on your business. “You attract more bees with honey”.
- Develop a social media policy that clearly outlines the dos and don’ts of social media use across all your channels. This will help your team use social media on your behalf, in a way that best represents your brand, while keeping behaviour in check.
#5 GIVE VALUE
People go online to look for answers to their problem or to satisfy a need. First, they research their problem, to understand it. Then they look for solution options that best suit their business and circumstances.
Not having content that answers their questions, or helps and guides them towards a purchase decision, on your website or on social media, they will look for it somewhere else.
QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
Always lead with value that is the #1 rule for content marketing, particularly when selling services.
- The more you give value, the faster you will connect with and grow your audience. Because only then will your audience see you as someone who cares and understands their problem. They will see you as an option to helping them solve it and will love you for it — going on to become avid fans.
- Write blog posts that answer their questions. Anticipate what they need to know.
- Put links to your YouTube videos and podcasts on your website. Then break the content down into bite-sized pieces for social media. This ensures that people find you across all your channels.
#6 ALWAYS BE IMPROVING – AND LEARNING
There’s a lot to know and understand about marketing, and just when you think you understand it you realise how much more there is to know. Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to marketing, and blindly following someone else’s marketing tactics doesn’t mean that they will work for you. No two brands are the same, and every audience is different.
- If you are interested in marketing (a necessity for all businesses), there are a myriad of courses you can do as well as books and blog posts to read. However, knowledge takes time and sometimes years to master.
- The best approach to take is to figure out what’s best for your brand and audience, focus on one thing at a time, then do it — and monitor your results.
- The best way to always be improving your content and tweaking your ad campaigns.
- Learn how to read your website data using Google Analytics and your social media analytics. Then monitor your results and see what is or isn’t working so that you can improve.
#7 HAVE FUN
It’s as simple as this. If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, the time will come when you do it half-heartedly and stop entirely.
You’ve come a long way to get your business where it is now. So why take the risk?
- Choose the content format that you enjoy creating the most. Like writing? Start a Blog. Love talking? Invite people to your podcast? Like being on Video – get your iPhone out.
- When it comes to social media, choose the platform you most enjoy using. But what if you prefer using Instagram and not LinkedIn, and the bulk of your audience is on LinkedIn? In this case, you can choose to outsource your LinkedIn content strategy or pass it on to an employee who enjoys it.
If you are consistently being helpful, positive and present online you will attract a growing audience who likes you and understands what you do. You will leave a positive digital footprint and be seen as someone to trust.