Why do I need to know this stuff?
Understanding marketing for your business can feel like a mountain to climb. As your business ebbs and flows, there are tools that you can use to kickstart your business. At some point, your company may grow so much that you’ll need your own marketing manager. Until then, you may be doing a lot of the heavy lifting on the job site and the marketing side.
- The key parts of a successful marketing program
- How to make the most out of content, email, your logo, and branding
- Important terms to know for the marketing industry
We live in the age of content. People seem to be on their phones now more than ever and you’ll want to find ways to engage them when they run across your social media pages. Here are four easy ways you can easily turn your jobs into content.
Writing a blog post can be a quick way to engage a potential customer with information on what you do, how you do it, or how they can protect themselves. Here are some ideas for blog content for your site.
- Job summaries: The who, what, where, when, and why of your latest and greatest project.
- How-tos: Before they call for help, what are some things a homeowner should do to figure out the issues with their homes?
- Employee profiles: People love to get to know who is coming into their homes or who they just got off the phone with. A short description and some fun facts about your employees can make your company seem more approachable and trustworthy.
- Opinions: Is there something in the industry that you would like to sound off on? This is a perfect platform for you to show off your expertise and let people know what you’re about as a professional.
Currently, video is king. Companies have poured billions of dollars worldwide in creating branded video content. Luckily, you most likely have a cell phone and therefore the ability to make your own videos.
The types of videos you should create and share on your social media pages and website should include:
- Project updates or before and after comparison videos
- Instructional videos on how to do simple tasks around the home
- Employee interviews
- Industry updates (Ex: lumber prices or changes to legislation)
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Like video, your phone is a powerful tool in creating visual content. Taking photos of jobs and employees and sharing them can help people identify with your company. Showing off your work can mean inspiration for a potential customer.
When taking pictures make sure you:
- Use good lightning and that your subject isn’t dark or shaded
- Fill the image with what you want to focus on. Don’t leave too much space above, below or to the sides. It can be distracting.
- Make sure that your images have something interesting that is noticeable and doesn’t need to be explained. Make it clear what the image is supposed to be.
Like just about everything, consistency is key for your success. Posting regularly communicates that you have a vibrant business and know your stuff. Posting regularly doesn’t mean daily, but weekly is a good start. If you start to see some engagement, maybe it becomes twice a week. You’ll find your sweet spot once you begin creating content.
Email is a key marketing tool that can feel daunting. It’s just another thing to tend to, but the results may be worth it.
What kind of emails should I be sending?
There are several types of email content you can create, but most fall into three categories:
For a small business, newsletters might feel like a lot of effort. However, some businesses do succeed through sustained engagement with their mailing list. Newsletter content could be a summary of the blog posts, videos, and images you used on social media over the last month. They could also be unique every month with information about promotions you’re running or reminders to do basic home maintenance. Emails can also be used to announce new products and services or promotions to boost your sales.
You can use emails as part of a larger campaign. Let’s say you have a new service or product that you think is really important for your potential customers to know about. Instead of just putting it on your site and hoping someone sees it, you can create an email campaign for your mailing list. Email campaigns need a few things:
- A schedule of communications (If this is your first campaign, maybe just try two messages)
- Strong subject lines that will catch the attention of your audience
- Strong calls to action with each email. (Examples: “Call for a Quote”, “Get Started Today”, “Schedule an Appointment”) These calls to action should be accompanied by a link or a phone number so they can act on what you would like for them to do.
Building your mailing list
A great mailing list is worth its weight in gold. There are ways to quickly and ethically build your mailing list.
- Former or current customers
- Former or current leads
- Tradeshow or conference sign-up sheets
- Contact form on your website
- Social media posts
Building a large mailing list can take time, but it’ll be worth the effort for your business.
Picking a email marketing platform
You should not be sending marketing emails from your personal email address. This will clutter your inbox and make life hectic quickly. There are hundreds of email platforms vying for your business. These platforms will offer email template designs to keep your emails looking professional. They will also offer things like spam checks that will keep your emails from getting flagged as spam by major email services. These services will also provide analytics for your emails that will include open rates and click rates (the rate that readers clicked on your links). These statistics will help you keep track of your emails’ performance and help you make decisions on how to change your strategy.
Many will come with free plans that keep some of the more advanced features behind a paywall. Although that might be a little disappointing, email marketing platforms can be affordable. Some charge by the size of your mailing list or how many emails you’ll be sending a month. Email marketing services are definitely worth the investment.
Logo and branding
You may be struggling with your logo or how to brand your business. Especially when starting out, you may go through several versions of your logo until you find one you like. Here are some basics on logos and branding that can give you some clarity.
When it comes to logo design, less is more. Some may think it’s a great idea to pack as much as they can into a logo so they can communicate their company’s values and what makes them special. However, you need a logo that looks good small and plastered on a billboard. Simplicity is going to make your logo a more usable asset versus something that will create a lot of headaches when making it work on a business card or social media graphic. Simple lines and shapes go a long way.
The colors you use can convey meaning in ways you were unaware. Ever wonder why so many fast food restaurants use red and yellow for their logos and branding? Well, it’s supposed to make you hungry. Red makes us feel warm and welcomed and yellow makes you feel excited and optimistic. Before getting way too deep into color theory, you need to think about what colors you would like to use to communicate your value. Here are some colors and their meanings:
- Blue: Trust
- Green: Peace
- Grey: Balance
- Purple: Creativity
- Red: Excitement
- Orange: Friendliness
- Yellow: Optimism
A great rule of thumb is not mixing too many of these colors in your logo or branding. Pick two and stick with them.
Aside from visuals, the way you talk about your business is important. When creating any kind of content for your business, you need to ask yourself a couple of questions before starting:
- Am I communicating the value of my business to my audience?
- What do I want someone to do after they see this?
These two simple questions will help you create content that aligns with your business goals and what your audience craves.
Advertising and campaign essentials
Advertising for your business is almost a requirement if you want to continue to grow. There are several channels you can use to advertise your business. We will go through several of them and explain their benefits.
Advertising in newspapers, magazines, billboards or any other form of physical media is considered traditional advertising. Although seen as an older form of advertising, there is a benefit of building brand awareness through advertising in trade publications or purchasing a billboard on a major highway. Unfortunately, the success of these advertising efforts in converting people into customers is hard to track. Understanding your return on investment is difficult without advanced tracking tools.
This type of advertising has seen a boom in the last 15 years. In that time, people’s access to the internet has grown and dependency on mobile devices in daily life has increased. The advertising industry has learned how to use the data people share across the internet to target them with the advertisements they will find most helpful. All of this means that digital advertising has some benefits you should know about--better audience targeting and analytics. This means that investing in different types of digital advertising like search engine marketing, digital banner ads, pre-roll video, or social media advertising comes with improved targeting and performance metrics.
Digital advertising to generate leads is a large task that requires expert help. Finding a trustworthy and knowledgeable digital advertising agency for your business when you want to start advertising is a critical step. Some publications, ratings sites, and websites do have their own digital advertising packages. It is up to you to decide what is best for your company’s growth.
When shopping for digital advertising opportunities or agencies it’s important to understand what kind of reach your ads will have (aka impressions), the types of targeting being used to serve the right audience, what to expect in terms of click-through rates (CTRs: the rate that users click on your ad), and what to expect as a cost per click (aka what it costs for you to get someone to click on your ad).
* * *
These essentials should give you a good idea of what you need to know and understand to start thinking about your company’s marketing tactics. Over the years, you will find marketing changing and molding itself to new trends in technology. However, the fundamentals never change. You should find the right audience and communicate the value your company brings, from pricing to stellar customer service, effectively.