When you hear the term “digital marketing,” what do you think about? Does an image of a social media ad pop into your head? Do you imagine a team of people sitting around a table, all talking about online strategy? Is your mind drawn to the countless emails in your spam folder, begging to be opened using all manner of click-bait gimmicks?
Digital marketing encompasses many concepts, from content strategy to email funnels to market research and more. But is in-depth digital marketing worth the investment for entrepreneurs or contractors? Many people who strike out on their own with a service or product do all of their marketing in-house and by themselves.
In some cases, it could be advantageous to look for an outside firm to help with your digital marketing efforts. But for those of you who wish to go it alone, there are some important concepts you should understand.
Messaging begins with knowing your audience
Your business cannot exist without customers who want your product or service. Knowing how to communicate with them effectively starts with actually understanding them. What life stage is your target audience in? What are their immediate needs? What are their long-term goals? What emotions drive them when it comes to decision-making?
Collecting data about your audience’s demographics and their deeper motivations is the first step to crafting a buyer persona, which gives you a target to aim at with your messaging. If you do not understand your audience, then how can you be expected to entice them to buy what you are offering?
Focus on benefits over features
Features and benefits are a key part of any marketing strategy. Features describe what the actual product or service is and its functional details. As an example, let’s imagine a professional photographer. Some features of their service would be the type of packages they offer, the cost, a fully-equipped studio, a consultation appointment, etc.
Benefits refer to what a product or service accomplishes for the customer. A professional photographer can provide snapshots of a moment that the customer wants to remember forever. Another benefit is the photo itself.
One important thing about benefits is that they can touch on the emotions of the customer and go deeper. A photo is not just an image, it is a memory that can bring joy every time the customer looks at that photo. If the photographer does baby shoots, a deeper benefit could be the bonding experience that the parents have during the session as they strike different poses with their new baby and laugh together.
When your marketing efforts focus on the deeper benefits that your product or service offers to potential customers, you can engage the emotions of your audience and draw them in more effectively.
Assume that you never know everything you need to
Staying humble and always seeking to learn is the driving factor behind every entrepreneur or contractor who is leading their own marketing efforts, especially in the digital landscape. Nothing changes faster than trends online, so what may have worked a month ago in connecting with customers could be ineffective today.
For this reason, it is crucial to not only learn more about digital marketing, but also to learn more about your particular product or service. In some cases, like for contractors who work in a trade, they have to renew their licenses to continue offering services, so they have to refresh their memory every once in a while.
But other industries are not built this way. You should always be in a state of learning about your niche. What new products are coming out that might compete with your own? Are perceptions of the industry you are in changing? How can your product or service improve the customer experience?
When customers see that you are constantly at the forefront of your industry and always learning more, they will trust that you are a subject matter expert. Keep on researching and never assume that you have learned everything.
Don’t improvise your digital marketing efforts
Winging it is not the answer here. You should never start a digital marketing campaign without first establishing your reasons why, specific goals, KPIs (key performance indicators) to track your progress, audience research, and a timeframe.
You should also count on results potentially taking longer than you anticipate. Digital marketing is not a plug-and-play concept that works for everyone the same way if they follow the right formula. Your plan should be customized to suit your business and your audience.
Above all, do not be afraid to fail. There will be strategies that work for your brand, but there will also be some that are complete duds. As stated above, never stop learning how you can improve your digital marketing efforts, and let failure be your best teacher to inform the way forward.