Every time one of the following types of emails lands in my inbox, my heart sinks a little. The email usually reads something like this:
“Can you please help me with website and social media copy? I spend lots of time on social media but get no sales. What am I doing wrong?”
The business person sending the email is usually at the end of her rope. She’s already thrown a lot of money and time at her marketing but experienced poor or no results.
Nine times out of 10, when I click through to her website and social media presence, there are typically huge gaps in her marketing system. When marketers typically talk about ‘gaps,’ they are usually referring to gaps in the marketplace. While these are important gaps to be aware of and capitalise on, if your marketing matrix is full of holes, you won’t achieve the results you are after.
The good news is, gaps in your marketing are often easy to fix. The bad news is when they’re not addressed, they can cost you business and sometimes lead to business closure.
In today’s post, I am going to show you the most common marketing gaps businesses have, why it’s important to fill those gaps and what elements every business owner must have in place for a well-oiled and functional marketing system that leads more people to engage with and buy from you.
A few years ago I was doing free website and social media appraisals as part of a community-engagement strategy on Facebook. After reviewing over 100 businesses, I found that most businesses had similar gaps in their marketing. I started to connect the dots to figure out not only what was missing but why these elements were missing. What I noticed was a tendency to compartmentalise or silo marketing activities rather than see them as part of an overall system or matrix.
Common gaps I came across included the following:
No mailing list: Many businesses had social media channels and some were very successful from an activity point of view; but without a mailing list, they weren’t able to nurture relationships outside of Facebook, Twitter and the like. As social media platform algorithms have changed and it’s become harder to reach the people who actually like you, the need for more direct communication channels has grown significantly. Many people would say to me they were scared of emailing people. I totally understand that because once upon a time, that was me too. The thing is, if you focus on delivering value to people’s inboxes rather than sales messages, they will be more likely to read your emails.
Misaligned Branding: If your branding is misaligned with your target market, you end up creating a disconnect between your brand and the people you want to serve. Misaligned branding could be as simple as an ill-conceived logo or as complex as your imagery, or the entire tone and language of your website. If your website looks out of date and your logo is pixelated, or you’re reaching out to a mainstream market but your imagery is more alternative, it’s time to take a good hard look at your branding.
No blog: A blog isn’t necessarily about writing. It could be as simple as an Instagram feed on your website. It really depends on your business, what types of content you like to produce and who you’re trying to reach. Instead of thinking of your blog as your mouthpiece, think of it as the repository for all of your content across the web, kinda like a library. If you do Youtube videos, you could be posting about them on your blog and embedding them there. If you have a podcast, you could be placing the show notes on your blog and embedding the recordings there. If you take incredible images and post them on Instagram, you could be using a plugin to create blog posts out of these Instagram updates. It doesn’t have to be hard and you don’t need to be a writer. Do what feels natural to you, but don’t let this one slide. Your fresh, regular content is one of the things that establishes your authority on search engines and also with your prospective clients.
No website at all!: The number of businesses that don’t have websites astounds me. In Australia, only about 42% of small businesses have an online presence despite a massive increase in consumer demand for online content.
No strategy: Many small businesses would use what we, content marketers, like to call the spray-and-pray approach. They seed content on social media and blogs but don’t have a clear strategy underlying their efforts. This leads to a lack of focus, lost time and more money on the table.
So what works?
A successful marketing system is not dependent on any one factor. It is comprised of many working parts that create value for your ideal buyers, increase your profile and build trust. If you silo your marketing activities, you will forget the other working parts. For instance, if you focus solely on Facebook, you may neglect to lead new ‘likers’ to your website where they can subscribe to your mailing list. Even if you do have a mailing list, you may neglect to email your subscribers on a regular basis to further nurture relationships.
After seeing what common gaps existed, I noticed that the most successful small business marketers had at least 10 common marketing elements in place. Together, these elements form the foundations of a healthy marketing system. They are:
- A WordPress website. You must have a website and it would be ideal if it were a WordPress website (WordPress.org not WordPress.com). WordPress is now used by more than 27% of online businesses globally. It is indexed quickly on Google and is easy to use and update. There are countless ways you can bend a WordPress site to your will, from creating membership sites to creating e-commerce platforms.
- Branding that is aligned with you, your product or service, and your ideal clients. Branding is a science and an art. Getting it right is a process and it requires a deep understanding of who you are, what you stand for, and who your ideal clients are. Branding is more than a logo — it is the life force of your business. It defines how you communicate and who you communicate with.
- Showing up regularly on the right social media channels. Knowing where your ideal clients hang out on social media is crucial. There’s no point building your castle on Facebook if your ideal clients are on LinkedIn.
- Integrating your social media channels with your website and other marketing collateral. If your potential customers have your card but no details of where to find you online, that could prevent a sale. Tell your customers where you are online so they can find you. Also, if they do find you via your website, they are more likely to be real prospects rather than empty ‘likers’ and followers.
- Establishing and nurturing your mailing list. This is one element that many now successful marketers say they wished they’d done right at the beginning of their entrepreneurial journeys. A mailing list enables you to communicate with and build relationships directly with your most interested potential buyers.
- Raving fans who recommend you to their friends, families and colleagues on social media. Raving fans are the heart and soul of your marketing. Create them through incredible service and nurture them afterwards so they always have you top of mind.
- Analytics Data from Google and Social Media Channels. Data tells you whether or not your marketing is on track. There’s nothing like cold, hard statistical facts to show you whether or not your search terms are winning or the right target audience is engaging with your message.
- SEO. Last but not least is Search engine optimisation. Making sure your blog posts contain the right key words, backlinks to your own content and backlinks to other authority content is crucial if you want Google to take your website seriously.
- Working the media. Many small businesses don’t find publicity easy and they often struggle with sharing their news. Many feel they have no news to share. I can tell you right now that isn’t true. Publicity is free and helps you create authority for your brand. Before the days of social media, it was the primary tool I used for my business.
- Connecting with potential colleagues and clients offline and online through social media groups, professional development programs and networking events. There is a lot to be gained from meeting with people in person. If you can’t find a group or network that fits with your needs or if you find a gap in the marketplace, why not start your own?
Of course, there are other factors that are important for your online marketing success and to cover them all here would be more of a book than a blog post. However, if you have these 10 in place, you’ll be off to a flying start.
Are there gaps in your marketing matrix? Check the list and see how your business measures against these 10 key elements.