By John Eberhard
In this article I’m going to discuss the various promotional platforms, or media, or avenues that you can choose for marketing your business. I have long been of the opinion that the best plan for promo avenues for a business is dependent on the type of business and is different for each type of business. There is no “one size fits all” strategy. Determining which promo avenues you use is one of the most important decisions for a business.
So here I’m going to give general comments on each platform/media/avenue.
Email: Email is still a great avenue for promotion today. BUT, as I mentioned in my previous articles, you have to think with open rates. That’s the percentage of people on a given list that actually open the email. For an in-house email list, meaning a list of clients and prospects, you can expect open rates of 7-25%. If you rely heavily on email promotion, you have to be aware that 75% or so of your list is not going to even see it. With cold email lists, meaning lists of people you’ve had no contact with before, the open rates tend to be around 1-2%. So I don’t recommend having email as your only promo medium.
Direct Mail: I am a big proponent of doing relatively inexpensive direct mail, such as postcards. At least you know that most of the people on the list are actually going to see it, so you have a chance to grab them with your message. You can include QR codes on printed materials today that link to further data online.
Google Ads: I have managed Google Ads for lots of companies over the years and am Google Certified. But a key factor to think with in deciding if you want to go this route, is the cost of each click. It has gone from 10 cents per click back in 2005 to up to $45 per click now in some industries. When you consider that roughly 3% of them will convert into a lead, then you close a certain percentage of the leads into sales, the math is not encouraging. It is still a great medium for certain industries, where there is not a lot of competition to drive the bid price high.
Facebook: The strategy on Facebook is to start a company page, get lots of people to “like” it, then post regularly. You can run inexpensive paid campaigns to get people to like your page. You can also run paid ad campaigns promoting your product or service, and the tools for targeting different publics are impressive. In general I think advertising on Facebook is a better avenue than Google Ads, for most companies.
SEO: Search engine optimization is the series of actions one takes to increase the number of people who will find your website on search engines. At the beginning you do research on keywords and find the ones that fit your business that have decent search numbers per month, and have relatively low numbers of sites competing for them. Then you write titles and descriptions for each page using those targeted keywords. Then, on an ongoing basis over at least 6-12 months, you build up links to the site. Ideally you want your links to be in the thousands. The best method for building links is to write a press release regularly that includes a link to your site and post it on press release sites. Google has tried to stop people from doing link building, but press releases still work.
Yelp: Yelp used to a good place to have a page and do paid advertising. I don’t usually recommend this anymore. The idea of online reviews showed promise in the beginning. But unfortunately we’ve seen a phenomenon where a certain segment of the population has discovered that they can write snarky/critical reviews of companies online, and there are no negative consequences for them. So these days pretty much every business with a Yelp page has one or more or several horrible reviews, and these overly critical people have more or less dominated Yelp and other review sites. It’s gotten to the point where I think it is more of a negative than a positive to be on this platform. But if you’re there and have some negative reviews, you have to work to get more positive reviews to outweigh the bad ones.
Website: I think it is vital today for any business to have a website. The strategy for what to do with your website varies a lot depending on the industry. But in general it is important to have prominent contact information, to have “more info” forms throughout the site, and to have a visually interesting site that is customized to your business as much as possible. In other words, lot of photos that show your business, your staff, etc. This is especially important in the healthcare field. In some industries it works great to offer free “information products” related to your industry, i.e. free ebooks. Then create an email autoresponder series going out those people that request the ebook, selling your products or services. It’s required today that your website be mobile friendly, i.e. display correctly and be readable on mobile phones.
It is also required today that the site load quickly. Google panelizes sites in rankings that load slowly. Web designers have had to drop certain features that slow down loading, such as big photo slide shows or video backgrounds. And I have had to move clients off of slow hosting companies.
You need to have app for measuring your site traffic. Google Analytics is free and is quite good. You should check it at least once a month to see how many people are going to your site, which pages they are viewing, and what other sites are referring traffic to you.
Video: Creating videos about your business is a really important part of any marketing strategy today. Your videos should be professional looking though you don’t have to spend $10,000 per video producing them. Most decent digital cameras today will shoot video. I used to use Adobe Premiere Elements to edit video, which costs only $100, though today I use Premiere Pro which is pretty much the industry standard. Once you have a video or videos, you should create a YouTube channel and upload the videos there. Then place them on your site, link to them in emails, etc.
Other Social Media: Depending on the demographics of your target public, other social media sites may be important for you. LinkedIn is mainly for B2B (business to business) connections and networking between professionals. Twitter has devolved into a place for radical ultra-left political activists, so I don’t particularly recommend it anymore. Instagram is for businesses that are very visual in nature. Tik-Tok is for young people. Before you invest a lot in other social media sites, do some research to see what the demographics are of their public.
Webinars: Holding regular webinars can be a great promo medium for some industries. There is quite a bit of information out there regarding how to structure the information presented, how much useful info given vs. sales pitch. You usually have to offer some kind of useful info to get people to tune in, then have your pitch at the end.
Good luck with choosing the right promo media for your business.