Are you ready to start your business? Or do you already have one that is struggling to make a profit? The pandemic has impacted small businesses immensely, but your business can thrive with the right marketing plan and a wise budget. 

With marketing leaders worldwide promising amazing results if you take their classes or use their tools, it can be confusing to navigate the waters. Should you do it all on your own, or should you trust a marketing agency to do the work for you? Whatever decision you make, it’s essential to have a budget before you begin. 

How Much Money Should You Spend on Marketing?

We’ll be honest; you probably won’t like our answer. The truth is…it depends. 

Marketing helps you create new revenue, engage new and old customers, and establish yourself as a player in your industry. Between 8-12% of your income should go to marketing. But what if you don’t have income yet?

It’s important to note that your budget for marketing will be higher before you launch versus after you launch. Your business is unknown, and the money you spend at the forefront of the launch will go towards four unique goals.

  1. Stand out from the competition: Who are your competitors? Are they local or across the world? Once you figure that out, you’ll want to do everything you can to differentiate yourself from them. 
  1. Build your unique voice on the market: The way you talk to your target audience and how you are perceived online is your unique brand voice. Customers build trust with brands when they have consistent positive and engaging interactions with them.
  1. Find your customers: The most crucial part of marketing is finding your customers where they already are. Before you launch, you can grow your email lists, social media followers, and traction through ads to establish a customer group. 
  1. Equip the business with a quality online presence and visual elements: Before you launch, you’ll need a website, an online marketplace, social media accounts, and more. The more professional these look, the better. Graphic design, photos, and videos can help buff up your online presence and build trust with your customers. 

Should You Hire a Marketing Agency or Handle It Internally?

Marketing your small business is definitely something you can do on your own….but we can’t promise you’ll have good results. Many tools exist to let you do it on your own: Canva to create graphics, social media platforms to reach your audience, stock image sites to share photos, the list goes on. These tools are great, but without the right skill set and ability to think about the strategy, the time you put in could be all for nothing. 

What other options do you have? Hire a marketing agency! Marketers each have unique skill sets that make them valuable agency employees. Graphic designers, copywriters, paid media specialists, market researchers, and photographers all come together to work on your account to provide you with the best results possible. 

Clear Function Tip: Don’t underestimate the value of good design. Often taken for granted, graphic design can elevate the professionalism of your marketing collateral. Your visual identity is something that your customers will become familiar with – don’t miss out on a great marketing opportunity with poor design. 

What To Look For When Hiring an Agency

The biggest thing to look at when hiring a marketing agency is their previous work. Visit their website and read their case studies. See if they have worked with industries similar to yours. There are often unspoken rules between industries and if they already know these then you’ll spend less time prepping them on the front end. 

Set up an intro meeting to hear from the agency leadership team. Describe your wants and concerns for marketing and listen to the plan they propose. Agencies vary in size and cost, meeting with several can help you find the perfect fit for your business. 

Invest in Paid Marketing

Paid marketing is a great way to increase your profit margin quickly and effectively. Facebook, Instagram, Linked In, and Google are just a few of the platforms that allow for paid media campaigns. Large ad campaigns can be effective, but the day-to-day ongoing campaigns are also important to invest in. 

Large campaigns can be a great way to make a splash. New videos, graphics, ads with multiple versions of copy all play a part in a large, strategic campaign. They help you to reach new segments of customers but can also be rather expensive

Day-to-day campaigns that focus on one to two ads meant to target your local audience often see better targeting results. The data from long-term campaigns lets you see how your business is performing in different target markets. With that data, you can begin to understand your audience better and easily make changes. 

Are You Ready To Market Your Business?

Whether your business is brand new or you’ve tried out marketing on your own and it hasn’t been successful, Clear Function can help. Our dedicated team of marketing experts can evaluate your business plan and come up with a complete marketing strategy. Contact us today to get started!

Starting your small business and launching your digital product is a huge accomplishment, but the launch buzz will only take you so far. Pretty soon you are going to need to develop an in-depth marketing strategy and stick to it.  A strong marketing strategy will connect you with the right customers, get people talking about your business, and set you up for financial success. 

When you think of marketing what comes to mind? Is it the traditional way of doing things like commercials, billboards, and mailers? Or is it the new way of doing things that involve social media, digital ads, and targeted website landing pages? 

At Clear Function we are digital experts. We stay up to date on current marketing trends so that our clients stand out above the competition. You can also stand out by avoiding these easy marketing mistakes.

Digital Marketing Mistakes To Avoid 

  1. Not Having a Clear Conversion Point On Your Website

The number one goal of your website is to see customers convert. This could be filling out a contact form if you are selling a service or actually buying a product if you sell something tangible. If a customer can’t easily find a button or form where they can take action they will leave your site. 

Experiment with buttons like “Buy Now,” “Shop Now,” or “Get Started.” See which works best for your business and then include that button on multiple pages. 

  1. Not Retargeting Potential Customers

What is retargeting? Using paid advertising to send ads to people who have visited your website but not converted. People who have visited your website are the most likely to make a purchase because they already have an understanding of who you are as a business. 

The first question to ask is why did they not convert? Did your website not have a clear conversion point or do they need a message targeted specifically to them? These are issues you can fix with a targeted ad. Through Google Ads, you can target only customers who have visited your website and increase your chances of converting! 

  1. Not Reengaging Old Customers

Customers who have bought from you and had a good experience are your best target market. When you add new products or service offerings they are more likely to purchase them because they already trust you as a business. Add all previous customers to an email mailing list and continue to build and maintain the relationship you have with them through frequent email communications and sales offerings. 

You can also reach out to them for testimonials to use in marketing material. Reading customer reviews is an easy way for new customers to convert. 

  1. Not Using Social Media Correctly

Social media is a powerful marketing tool, but if you don’t use it correctly you can end up losing money. Advertising is available on almost every large social media platform. If you take one piece of information from this article it should be this: don’t just use the boost button!

Create detailed, strategic social media ad campaigns. Spend time targeting your specific customer group, creating compelling images, and writing copy that helps customers convert. Boosting specific posts will only get you so far, but the other marketing tools available through social media are easy to learn and have the potential to bring many new customers. 

Of course, if tackling social media and ads seems like a daunting task, we recommend hiring an external marketing team. The Clear Function team has years of experience doing just that, and more! Contact us today to learn how we can help you grow. 

  1. Not Understanding What’s Happening On Your Website

Did you create your website years ago and haven’t edited it since? Your website is never really done! You can always make changes based on feedback and analytics on how customers interact with your content. 

Google Analytics is free so you have no reason not to use it! Learning where customers are clicking and how long they are staying on specific pages can help you understand why they aren’t converting. Don’t be afraid to change copy and images, update the style, and get rid of old information. 

  1. Not Leveraging Google My Business 

Another free resource businesses should take advantage of is Google My Business. When a customer searches for your business name or description, your Google listing is the first thing they see. Keeping your business hours updated, including photos or your logo, allowing people to post reviews, and running promotions is a simple but effective marketing tool. Without a Google My Business page, you will be losing to your competitors!

Evaluate Your Current Marketing Strategy or Create One Today! 

Are you making any of these mistakes in your day-to-day business marketing? These are all easy mistakes to fix by you or your trusted marketing team! Remember that digital marketing is a fast-moving and ever-changing field. If you try something new and don’t see results, change your path! 

Are you using social media to its maximum potential to grow your startup?

It’s no secret that social media has changed the world. Even more, it’s completely changed how businesses market themselves. What once was dominated by print advertisements, email campaigns, and phone calls now has a worthy competitor in social media marketing. When done well, a strategic and smart social media presence has the potential to grow your sales, customers, and reach in substantial ways.

To best utilize all of the components social media has to offer, you need to learn how to effectively manage your accounts and make sure you are marketing to the right group of people.

Start With a Clear Plan

Before you jump in and start crafting posts and creating content, you need a solid plan of action. Take a step back and determine who you are trying to reach and what platforms they are currently on. While your biggest group of potential customers may be on Instagram, you could also have a substantial group on Facebook that is being ignored. Without a clear plan, you could be spending time and money targeting customers on platforms they aren’t prominently using.

When you are done researching your customers and platforms, you are ready to create a content calendar that you can update regularly with post ideas, dates of scheduled posts, and copy. A calendar allows you to line up all of your future posts and see how your upcoming content relates to one another. Staying consistent in your voice is what will help you create long-lasting relationships with your customers.

Include All Four Winning Components in Every Post

As you create your social media posts, it’s important to include these four components. They will ensure that customers take action and engage with your brand.

  1. Start With a Hook

If you don’t gain the attention of the reader right away, they are more likely to keep on scrolling. A hook pulls the reader in and makes them want to engage with you and your product. This could be a question, a statement that sparks emotion, or an interesting fact. It can be helpful to see the hook as a way to empathize with the reader about a problem they may be experiencing.

  1. Resolve Your Hook

Once you grab their attention, it’s time to resolve the question the hook asked or the emotion it created. This is where you can mention your product or service and position it as a solution to a problem. Save the bulk of your copy for this section of the post.

  1. End With a Call to Action

The reader won’t make a purchase or visit your website without a call to action prompting them to take the next step. First, determine what that action step should be, and then phrase it in a way that the reader can engage with.

Example: Contact us! – linking to a contact form on your website, Shop Now – linking to your sales page, or Learn More – linking to a landing page on your website.

  1. Add a Photo or Graphic

Photos and graphics grab a reader’s attention and make them stop on the post. You don’t need a photographer to post quality photos, just invest the time in making sure that the photos aren’t blurry and that they always include a subject. For graphics, Canva is your best friend! You can easily create posts that look sharp and creative.

Invest in a Scheduler

Social media schedulers are your friends! Instead of planning out and posting individual posts each day, you can schedule for an entire month of posts with programs like Later or Hootsuite. These programs are subscription-based and are often affordable. You can schedule posts, create ads, see analytics, and manage content. As a new entrepreneur, this is an easy way to free up your time and increase your social presence.

Social Media Management Do’s and Don’ts

While social media is an easy tool to learn, it does come with its own list of dos and don’ts. Following these guidelines can help you more efficiently manage your accounts and connect with potential customers.

Do post positive reviews and highlight customers’ successful journey with your product or service. You made a product that you should be proud of, don’t be afraid to share that with the world!
Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Nothing burns the trust of your customers more than when you promise huge results or free products when you can’t guarantee these.

Do be authentic in what you post. Be truthful and honest and real – this is what will connect you to your customers!
Don’t be fake. Never lie or put on a show to your social media followers to portray your business as something that it isn’t.

Do post consistently. If you tend to post Monday and Friday, make it a priority to continue posting on those days. Consistency will help your customers know when to expect to hear from you.
Don’t post sporadically. The social media algorithm only benefits users who consistently post – take advantage of it and don’t be sporadic with your posts.

Do maximize social media’s potential. Advertising, analytics and so much more. Make sure you are utilizing all the potential social media has to offer!
Don’t expect it to be a cure-all for your business. Social media isn’t a one-stop-shop for success. You still need to employ other basic marketing tactics to see success.

When Should You Hire Outside Help?

Now that you know what you should include in each post and the important dos and don’ts, it can be helpful to recognize the signs of needing to hire outside help. Hiring a social media manager or outsourcing social media to an agency can take the burden off your plate and free up time for you to focus on your business. If you find that you can’t keep up with your audience, or the effort far outweighs the return then outsourcing is a smart decision! 

Research potential managers online and ask for a portfolio to view previous campaigns they have run. Look for measurable results before you hire anyone. Whether you decide to outsource or manage your own social media, striving for measurable results that drive profit is your number one goal and can be easily met through a strong plan! 

Creating a functional, visually pleasing website is one of the most important steps small businesses can take for marketing. It is the number one platform to engage with potential customers and promote your product or service. Your website should include all of the basic pages (home, product/service, contact), but what takes it from a functional to a winning website are all the extra components that take it above and beyond.

6 Tips to Enhance Your Business Website

Add an Analytics Tool

Adding an analytics tool to your website, like Google Analytics, is an easy way to track what is happening across the site. You can’t expect to put up your website and your phone to automatically start ringing. It takes time to study how people interact with different pages, how long they stay on the site, and where they click. An analytics tool can help you learn these customer patterns and inform the next version of the website.

Don’t Treat Your Website Like It Is Written in Stone

Your website is a living, breathing document, and it should be treated as such. Constantly updating the copy, imagery, and services, based on analytics, allows you to effectively reach customers. Keep track of the different versions, or A/B test with a tool like Google Optimize, so that you don’t lose any of your work, but don’t be afraid to make changes!

Use Imagery To Tell Your Story

Adding high-quality imagery on your website is just as important as the copy. As humans, we tend to scan websites instead of reading them completely. If you can use an image that speaks to your message and is inclusive of age, gender, and race you can connect with your target audience and increase sales.

Communicate Through Style

The fonts, colors, copy, and imagery all communicate a message. What you choose to put on your website should all communicate who you are as a brand. For a brand that is trying to communicate confidence, you might choose darker colors and bold font, while a brand trying to communicate softness would choose curvy fonts and lighter colors.

Provide a Clear Call To Action

Every page on your website needs to have a clear call to action. One of the biggest things that will make a potential customer leave your website is nothing to engage with or a dead end. Make sure that every phone number, email address, and physical address links appropriately. Add a contact/shop now button or a form to every page to increase interactions and keep customers on your site.

Work With a Professional Copywriter

Your brand identity, who you are as a company, is mostly communicated through the copy on your website. It should be a balance of technical and non-technical copy that everyone can understand. Use humor and statistics when appropriate and take out as many filler words as possible. Professional copywriters know how to effectively convey strong messaging that is clear and concise. It can be helpful to work with one as you build out version one of your website.

5 Common Website Mistakes

Focusing Only on What You Are Selling

One of the biggest mistakes we see is when a business’s product or service page has all the facts (price, weight, measurements, details), but doesn’t have any language that entices a customer to make a purchase. Who does your customer become with your product or service? What problem does it solve in their life? Answers to questions like these begin to reveal a deeper layer of value that your product or service can offer.

People visit a website for their own reasons and to complete their sale they need to see something that speaks to them emotionally, adds value to their life, or makes them laugh. Don’t forget to add the same quality of messaging you have on the rest of your website to your product or service page.

Relying Completely on The Website

What is the point of having a winning website if no one visits it? You must put equal, if not more, effort into directing potential customers to your website through social media, SEO, ads, and email marketing. As you learn more about your customers and track website visitors, you will see how people are getting to the website and can then focus on effective marketing efforts even more.

Losing Customers to Confusion

Did you know that brand messaging can actually cause a customer to leave your site without making a purchase? Let’s take buttons, for example. If you have multiple buttons on a home page that all say something different, the customer will get confused. And a confused mind always says no. Staying consistent and clear with your brand messaging can only help engage customers and increase profits.

Putting Design over Clarity

We all know of a website that looks amazing, but the functionality side doesn’t work. A great design will take you far, but if a customer doesn’t know how to interact on the site, you will lose sales. It can be beneficial to work with both a design and engineering team to make sure the functionality is on par with the aesthetic.

Start Creating Your Winning Website Today!

Now that you know tips to make your website even better and mistakes to avoid, it’s time to create your own! You can use templates from sites like WordPress or Squarespace if you want to do it on your own, or you can work with a marketing agency for even better results. With an agency, you can rest assured that every aspect from design to development to functionality will be covered. Interested in learning about the Clear Function website approach? Contact us today!

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