If there’s one thing that was certain in 2020, it is that pretty much everyone has been using their iPhones and Androids to function in society. Whether it’s for looking up the best place to get a COVID test, shopping online, buying a new car, a new place to live, researching services & events, or connecting with people and businesses, everything is even more connected to the Internet in today’s world. We have gotten to the point where even young children and the elderly are using it frequently as a place to connect, entertain and learn.
You would think that this is pretty obvious information, right? Well, yes, it is. So is most of the abundant information we have access to today. The problem with information and knowledge is that it is only potential power, and taking action on insightful information is the difference-maker.
We might not be living in a quarantined world forever, but living through a pandemic for an extensive period of time has really shown us that we can rely on technology at a much higher level than we believe so. Nearly the entire world was working from home at one point, and now many children are attending school at home. While there have been struggles at times, we have been adapting to the realities of our new circumstances.
WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS, DOUBLE DOWN ON YOUR DIGITAL MARKETING EFFORTS
Within a matter of months, COVID-19 has made us rely on the Internet at an even deeper level. It has created a shift and acceleration in our relationship with technology. Many see this time as a burden, wanting things to go back to the way that they were. The truth of the matter is that things might go back to “normal”, but they will never be the way they used to be and the quicker we accept that as it is, the quicker we’re able to see the tremendous opportunity from it. Just like we get used to our brand-new smartphone within a matter of weeks, we are already used to the pandemic lifestyle. It’s much more normal to avoid people when passing them, incorporate masks as a part of our daily routine, search for all of our needs, shop for everything online (including groceries), have doctors appointments via telemedicine, attend Zoom classrooms, parties, weddings and business meetings, as well as socialize and interact with others in much more depth online.
Online search and social media usage levels dramatically increased and evolved since March. While the usage has leveled off in the more recent months, they still continue to be significantly higher than pre-pandemic levels.
Just like that shiny new iPhone, all of this has progressively seemed normal. While some things will go back to being in-person in the near future, our world has definitely shifted and if you are not doubling down on your digital marketing efforts as a business owner and squeezing these lemons, you are truly falling behind.
Whether you are a startup or are a seasoned/established company, brand awareness will always be applicable. What do people think of when they think of your business? How many people truly know about your business?
Before someone decides to work with you, they need to know who you are, what you do, and what you stand for. Today’s consumers and businesses are much more intelligent and research-oriented. The first thing that prospective clients will do when they hear about you is doing a Google search. If your website is not at a rockstar level and/or it does not come up on Google for your own name, you’re already in trouble. People can subconsciously tell when a website is outdated or if the website was not professionally done. Your website is a huge reflection of your brand and will be used as an association with the quality of your business.
Think about it, how likely are you to buy a product from a website that feels so amazing and seamless versus a website that feels out of place, disorganized, or even outdated? Very likely. A website is not a painting, you can’t just put it together and hang it on the wall and watch how well it ages. It is a constant work in progress where every detail needs to be carefully implemented and evolved throughout time.
Your website is extremely important, but that’s only the starting point of your digital marketing journey. People need to actually know about you and your dandy website. You have to create a strong presence where people spend most of their time in our little digital world. Not only do you need to be showing up for your own name on Google, but you need to be showing up for every keyword related to your business. This will not only drive real business results but when done properly at scale, people will associate you synonymously with what your business is about. Google is only one place where your business needs to live. Social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.) are arguably just as important as search engines because this is where people spend most of their time. It is a great place for real-life “social proof”, and you are able to create much more lively ads beyond the blue hyperlink Google provides.
The key is to know what your business stands for and effectively communicate your message across all avenues and consistently creating an enormous amount of presence and awareness. The more that people resonate and see you (and from different places), the more they will be aware of you and create a sense of association with who you are and what you stand for.
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of soda? Pepsi or Coke, right? How about smartphones? Probably iPhone & Android. The foundation of these conglomerates comes from their brand. They successfully have people associate their products with the general term like “soda” or “smartphone”. I get it, not everyone is Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Apple or Google. But you don’t need to be them to do what they are doing. When people who live in your suburban town think of a doctor, lawyer, car dealer, restaurant, you can be the one that they think of. When people think of affordable luxury winter clothing, you can be the one that they think of.
GET NEW CLIENTS
Getting your name out with the messaging you want to be associated with your business is great, and brand awareness is one of the most important aspects of creating a successful business and presence online, but at the end of the day, things like cash flow, revenue, and new clients are what keeps the engine running and the means to brand awareness is to increase your business in one way or another. Brand awareness without any real, tactical customer acquisition skills and strategies is not as easy with the number of other people trying to do the same thing as you. Brand awareness is what helps you stand out from the pack, but how can you stand out and get new clients if only a handful of people or the wrong people know about your brand?
One of the most effective and proven ways to get new clients is through paid advertising campaigns. The companies that you associate social media (Facebook/Instagram) and search (Google/YouTube) with are as powerful as they are because of their extremely effective advertising platforms. You are able to reach your ideal target audience and with the right strategy and creative, and you can take your business to new heights by just investing in online paid media campaigns.
Many small businesses say that they need more clients, but don’t have room for the “expense” of digital advertising. This is one of the bigger mistakes you can make as a business owner in 2020, especially while trying to make it out of a pandemic alive. Paid media campaigns are an investment to get more clients and to grow your business. If you don’t have the capital to allocate to paid media campaigns, it’s probably because you aren’t running any. If you run these campaigns effectively, then you will end up increasing your capital for those campaigns because of the results. The beauty of paid media right now is that you can target exactly who you are looking for without wasting dollars on irrelevant people and the price to reach these people are still undervalued in many places, compared with the value the platforms provide versus the rest of the market (e.g. traditional advertising). Unless you are completely content with the state of your business and have no intentions to change anything, paid media campaigns are a must in today’s world.
INTERACT WITH CURRENT CLIENTS
Regardless of what business you are in and whether they are individuals or businesses, your clients are your priority. Communicating with them on a regular basis is extremely important. Implementing systems surrounding this communication is what many businesses lack. Send text and email reminders for appointments, send those newsletters, write those blog articles, create those LinkedIn posts, or don’t create any system, process or structure and just simply reach out to your clients and ask how they are doing. A more frequent outreach will go a long way, even if it’s a simple hello, especially during a once-in-a-lifetime crisis.
The bottom line: just do something.
Getting new clients isn’t enough. In order to create a lasting foundation, you have to build a relationship with each client you have, whether you have 2 clients or 2,000 clients. Utilizing the platforms and tools that today’s digital world offers is especially important now with the digital-reliant shift that the pandemic has made.