By John Eberhard
I recently wrote that we have entered the era of platform marketing.
First let me define the terms. A “platform” in this case is defined as a company, website, system or method that a business will use to market its products or services. Some examples of marketing platforms are: Google Ads, Facebook, email marketing, direct mail, Google My Business, Google organic search, Bings Ads, Yelp, display advertising, YellowPages.com, HomeAdvisor.com, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.
The reason we have entered a new era in small business marketing is:
In today’s small business marketing, the marketing platform that you use has become more important than what your message is, in terms of your success or failure.
This was not true years ago, when the message was the most important point. It is possible today, to have a mediocre message, but to be advertising on the right marketing platform, and be extremely successful.
On the other hand, it is also possible to have a well-crafted message, but to be marketing on the wrong marketing platform, and be a total failure.
This does not mean that the message is not important, but it means that the platforms one uses today have more impact than the message.
More on Selecting Marketing Platforms
Here is what I recommend in terms of finding the right marketing platform for your business:
- First get used to the idea that you may have to pilot and experiment for a while before you find the best marketing platform(s) for your business.
- Make a list of all possible platforms you could use. This should minimally include: Google Ads (search ads, display ads, video ads), Facebook, email marketing, direct mail, YouTube, Google My Business, Google organic search, Bings Ads, Yelp, display advertising, YellowPages.com, sites like HomeAdvisor.com for your industry, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram.
- Note on your list, whether you have used any of those media in the past, and what kind of results you got – great, good, so-so, or bad.
- Go on Google and search for your type of product or service. If your company is local, make a list of who comes up on the Google Business Profile listings. Those are your top competitors. If your company is regional or national, make a list of the companies that comes up in the Google search listings. Those are your top competitors. Also note if companies are running paid Google ads at the top of the search results.
- Study your top competitors and see what marketing platforms they are using. Are they running paid ads on Google? Does their regular organic listing come up on page one of Google? Do they have a Facebook page? How many likes does the page have? How often do they post on Facebook? Do they have an email newsletter? Try to get a copy of it. You want to study what they are doing.
- There are certain types of industries, like contractors, attorneys, and dentists, where there are sites that collect leads. For example, for contractors, there are sites like Angi, Houzz, HomeAdvisor.com, where homeowners can go and search for contractors to do their kitchen remodeling, bathroom remodeling, etc. Then when a homeowner fills out the form, they send that lead to contractors who have signed up as providers. There isn’t really a term for sites like this, so I call them “aggregators.” If your company is in one of the industries that is serviced by sites like this, you have to consider signing up as a provider for some or all of these sites. For one thing, most of them advertise very aggressively on Google Ads, Facebook and elsewhere. That’s how they get their traffic and leads.
- Come up with a plan of the marketing platforms you want to test. Give emphasis to those that have worked for you in the past, and those that your top competitors are using. For any outside of these that you want to try, note what publics typically use them. For instance, TikTok is mainly used by young people, so you wouldn’t use them if you’re marketing a service to seniors.
- Your plan should test each new marketing platform on a small scale.
- Carefully track the response to each campaign on each platform. I recommend getting trackable phone numbers from a company like callrail.com so you can count the number of phone calls coming from each platform. For people going to a landing page, use a separate landing page for each platform and code your forms so you know which campaign they’re responding to.
- When you start to see which platforms perform best for your business, increase the budgets for them. Continue tracking the response carefully.
But hopefully these guidelines will help you in finding the platform or platforms that will work for you. If you’d like help working out what platforms will work best for you, contact us at 661-441-2429 or firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation.