There’s a good chance you’ve put in a ton of hard work and built the business of your dreams.
What happens next?
It’s time to figure out how to not only get the word out about your business but to get people to buy what you’re selling.
That falls into the wonderful world of business marketing.
In the modern world, there are a multitude of options to pick from when creating your business marketing strategy.
It can be overwhelming if you don’t know where to start.
So we’ve decided to make it a little less stressful for you by breaking down the process into the four essential steps.
- Business Marketing Research Process
- How do you know what’ll work best for your business? We’ll tell you.
- Pick Your Business Marketing Strategies/Tactics
- Now that you know strategies, let’s give you the tactics to execute
- Determine Your Business Marketing Game Plan
- See which strategies will work best for your specific business
- Get Support for Your Business Marketing Projects
- See what you can do yourself and what you’ll need to outsource
These four steps won’t just give you business marketing ideas, but they help you truly understand how to make the right choices for your business.
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Step One: Business Marketing Research Process
We know, the word ‘research’ rarely incites very much excitement, but what it lacks in fun it makes up for in getting you more educated on the type of marketing activities that’ll perform the best for you.
Establishing a solid foundation in your business’ marketing based on research and data is the best way to increase your chances of positive outcomes (we’re talking dollar signs). We like to break research down into three elements; your brand, your audiences, and your offerings.
Update Your Brand Guidelines
Let’s start with your brand. It’s important to prepare your Brand Guidelines. Your brand guidelines contain every detail relating to the look, sound, and feel of your brand. The most important sections to include in your Brand Guidelines to support your business marketing plan include:
- Mission and value statements
- Your brand story
- Logos and variations
- Related symbols or imagery
- Color palettes
- Details on the brand voice (tone, feel, key phrases, words or phrases to avoid)
You might also want to consider adding sections with your competitor analysis, approved editing tools or styles, other brands or individuals you’re inspired by, and long-term business marketing goals. Don’t feel rushed into creating these guidelines. Be sure to keep in mind the preferences of your audiences as well as the best-practices most likely to result in conversions.
It’s important to have a set of brand guidelines to ensure that every business marketing project you create is consistent and helps strengthen the world’s view and understanding of who you are.
These brand guidelines should be shared with any member of your team who works on marketing, advertising, communications, design, and events. When in doubt, check the guidelines.
And when the guidelines don’t have an answer or you feel like they could be better, then update them.
Your brand guidelines are a living, breathing entity that will forever increase in specificity.
Each of these team members should use the brand guidelines to ensure their business marketing tactics meet your requirements listed. It’s guaranteed to save you time and money.
Not to mention, it’s insanely valuable to have as you work with outside sources as well.
Create Your Audience Avatars
Next up is researching your audiences.
It’s one thing to create a business marketing project that you like, but who’s to say that your desired customer will like it too?
The goal is to be crystal clear on exactly who you’re trying to sell to so that you can communicate with them in the best way possible. You’d probably speak differently to your best friend than you would to your grandma, right? That’s why it’s important to understand your target audiences.
Most brands have several sub-groups of people, known as audience segmentation, that they tend to market to. Using tools like Google Analytics, social media insights, questionnaires, quizzes, and other interactions with your customers can help you determine your main audience groups. From there, you’ll want to figure out a unique Audience Avatar (sometimes also called buyer personas) for each audience group.
This avatar should represent a real person within each of those audience groups. Get specific and list details that paint a picture representing what that Avatar likes, where they live, what they do for a living, what they need, what matters to them, and how your brand can fill those needs.
Deeply understanding that there are real human beings in your audience and not just a sea of faceless names helps you create tailored business marketing strategies that make your audiences feel seen, known, and ready to buy what you have to offer. It can also help keep you on the right track when brainstorming types of projects and themes of content you want to create.
Establish the Highlights of Your Offerings
Now that you’ve nailed down exactly who your brand is and who you’re marketing to, it’s time to get savvy when it comes to framing your offerings.
Whether you sell products or services, you want to dive deep into not only what you offer, but why it matters to each one of your target audiences.
This part of your business marketing foundation is critical to guide you towards certain marketing strategies that might work better for your particular brand offerings.
Start by outlining the key selling points of each product or service you offer from the perspective of each one of your audiences. What specific needs or problems do your products or services solve?
What makes them better than other options?
Take time to break down the most clever and attention-grabbing way to express those key selling points. Keep them on hand for the next steps.
You might also want to create your business’ elevator pitch. This is a short, 30-second pitch outlining what your brand represents, what value you provide, and why someone should hire you (you could include this in your brand guidelines too).
Step Two: Pick Your Business Marketing Strategies/Tactics
Now that you’ve done your research and put together a strong foundation for your business marketing approach, let’s talk about the types of marketing projects you should consider.
Business marketing can be broken down into many different categories, all of which can make an impact on your business.
While it’s not required to utilize every category, it’s important to understand all your options before diving in.
- Websites and SEO - this covers regularly updating your business website and utilizing SEO tactics to increase traffic and conversions on your website.
- Content - Content can come in many shapes and sizes, but it’s essentially the written and visual projects your brand produces and shares with your audiences on your website, social media, in person, and other online avenues.
- Social Media - These days, 3.6 billion people are on social media, making it a viable option to connect directly with your target audiences. Popular social media platforms for business marketing include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, and TikTok.
- Email - A good email marketing strategy helps keep your audience informed about business updates, market-specific products and services, and keep your brand front-of-mind. And, did you know that for every $1 you spend on email marketing you get a return $42? That’s an ROI you can't miss out on.
- Pay Per Click Advertising - Paid ads help get your hard work noticed. Ads can be used to direct traffic to your website, social media profiles, and more.
- Reputation Management - Blocking out time to connect with your audiences, resolve issues, and go the extra mile for clients might seem small but reputation management can go a long way to plant seeds for future sales.
- Partnership Marketing - Remember how important social media networking is? You can leverage the clout of influencers with partnership marketing to help capture new customers.
- Experiential Marketing - Go beyond the store or screen and create an experience that gets the world talking - about how innovative and personal your brand is to them. These experiential marketing events and experiences surprise, delight, and help audiences see your business in a new way.
- Publicity - Land spots on TV, podcasts, magazines, news sources, video series, and events to help spread the word about your business and boost your credibility.
- Traditional Marketing - Just because we live in a digital world, doesn’t mean all traditional marketing is dead. This category covers business cards, billboards, pamphlets, and any other physical, printed collateral.
Remember, not all strategies work for all brands.
Depending on your business, you might spend more time on certain marketing channels than others, and that’s okay. Allow time to experiment to figure out what type of business marketing works best for you.
Keep an open mind so that you can stay ahead of marketing trends and make your efforts go farther for your business.
Step Three: Determine Your Business Marketing Game Plan
You’ve chosen your business marketing categories, now let’s delve a little further into each category to outline key strategies you can consider implementing for your marketing plan.
Search engine optimization follows the laws of Google, and Google is constantly making updates to its rules. If you want to play the SEO game seriously, you need to stay up-to-date on Google’s rulebook.
There are many different elements of SEO, and the world is continuing to learn new techniques as the practice evolves. These are a few common SEO tactics to try in your business marketing plan.
- Site Speed - We’ve all had those moments of clicking on a website only to find ourselves staring at the spinning rainbow circle and waiting for it to load. Not only is a slow website annoying for users, but it’s also bad form in the SEO world. You can check your site speed using Google’s PageSpeed Insights.
- Information Architecture - Build out your website’s page structure in a way that makes it easy for users to find what they need (and buy your products and services), while also meeting SEO expectations. You want to categorize and layer your content pages to build a solid “family tree-style” navigation.
- Keyword Research - Got a keyword strategy? Figure out which keywords to target and how challenging it will be to rank #1 by doing a little keyword research. This will make it easy to outline your website content.
- Optimize Your Pages - From using those keywords to organizing the content in a particular way, to adjusting the meta-data, make sure all pages on your website are optimized for maximum competitive value. Data from Impact suggests that on-page optimization is key, citing, “57% of marketing executives say on-page content development was the most effective SEO tactic.”
- Link Building - Google determines the strength and value of your website in part by the number of other websites that link to yours. Instead of waiting around to get links, be proactive, and pitch your content for consideration.
In the business marketing world, we like to say that “content is king”. Content marketing is a powerful way to build connections with your audiences, provide information or entertainment, and help you seal the sales deals.
The best part about content for business marketing isn’t just that there are so many different kinds of content to try.
Content is the ONLY way for people who don’t know you, to judge you and get to know you.
Here’s an overview of 12 different kinds of content you can use to give your business marketing a boost.
- Blog Posts - Even if you don’t think your audience are avid readers, blogging consistently, and developing keyword-rich posts can do wonders for your website’s SEO
- Video - Video content is the perfect solution for the modern person’s short attention span. Create a compelling video to share on your website, social media, even in emails
- Webinars - Providing a free online training can help capture new customers, convince existing ones to buy a new product, and help humanize your brand.
- Podcasts - Another way to provide serious value to your target audiences while creating a more personal connection via your voice, podcasting can help establish your business as an expert in your industry.
- Infographic - Have some impressive facts and figures about your business to show off? Turn it into an infographic to share on your website, social media, or via email. Infographics make complex information easy to understand and palatable content to consume.
- Quiz - Another double-whammy business marketing technique, designing a short quiz (with a link to helpful information in the results), not only delights your audience but can help you gather more specific information about who you’re selling to.
- Vlog - If you’re really into video content, consider taking it up a notch and creating an ongoing video series on Youtube or Vimeo. Vlogs help establish consistency and can easily be combined with audio to check off both podcast and vlog content.
- Online Courses - To take those webinars a step further, consider developing an online course within your business’ area of expertise. You could literally make money while you sleep with this business marketing strategy.
- Press Release - Get the word out about your brand’s achievements. A formal press release contains all the details around a big business move, campaign, or launch and can lead to more publicity.
- Study/Research/1st Party Data Article - If your business is in technology, healthcare, or science, this type of content is for you. Compile your data and findings into an official study to share the information, and establish your business as a leader in the industry.
- Interview - Whether you’re being interviewed by another source or simply within your own business, this type of content helps create vulnerability and trust between your business and your customers. Consider interviewing employees in your business, or customers who have found success.
- eBooks - Share the story of how your business came to be, key philosophies you’ve created in your industry, or a workbook to support one of the products or services you offer.
Think you only need to send an email when your business has a new product to launch? Think again.
This business marketing category does include sales campaigns, but it’s important to continually engage with your email list to build a loyal following of customers who want to buy from your brand again and again. This includes free tips and tricks, news, event information, behind the scenes insights, and more depending on your target audience’s needs.
According to research by Oberlo, “81% of small businesses rely on email as their primary customer acquisition channel, and 80% for retention.”
Try these six business marketing strategies for email to get you started.
Just make sure to never lose sight of the most important rule of email marketing: make sure you can prove it makes you money.
- Freebies - The easiest way to get more people to sign up for your email list? Give them a free digital gift. Create a free guide, audio clip, video, or other virtual offerings to send to those who join your email list.
- Consistent Messaging - Think of it as a weekly email newsletter. Maintain a consistent email marketing schedule to stay in touch with your audience, beyond simply notifying them when a new product is available. This helps prime your people with a sense of trust so that they’re excited to buy when you have a launch.
- A/B Testing - Get to know your audience’s preferences with A/B Testing. This business marketing strategy takes the “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” advice to heart. You’ll send two versions of the same email to your audience to figure out what works best.
- Product Launch Campaigns - When it’s time to sell to your email list, make sure you have a multi-email launch campaign designed to help ease them into the idea of making a purchase.
- Video - Leverage the power of video for your mailing list. You can embed a Youtube video or create a personalized message for your contacts using apps like BombBomb.
- Cold Outbound - if you’re B2B, consider using email to create simple and effective email sequences where the goal is to start a conversation (not to make a sale on the first email). Keep it light, tease with a question, and keep them open-ended.
Social Media Marketing
Popular social media platforms for business marketing efforts include Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Pinterest, and TikTok.
Based on research from Statista, the number of active social media users across the globe is expected to reach around 3.43 billion per month by 2023, meaning there are plenty of potential customers to interact with on the platforms.
While your business certainly doesn’t have to be present on every single social media platform, you’ll want to make sure you commit to a consistent strategy on the social media you do choose to participate on.
The secret to business marketing success is going beyond a generic post and getting creative with ways to get your audience to engage with your business on a deeper level. It’s the perfect opportunity to connect with your followers on a more personal level.
- Contests - Create a contest or challenge for your followers to compete in relating to your brand and offerings. This might involve the contestants sharing a post on their feed and tagging you or using a special hashtag. The winner receives a prize of your choosing.
- Giveaways - This is a savvy social media strategy to help grow your following and exposure to your brand. Offer the chance to win a free product bundle giveaway to those who like, comment, and tag a friend on your social media post.
- Account Takeovers - Research to find a related brand (not a direct competitor) who you can partner with to create content and share audiences. Try swapping social media account access to expose their audience to your products or services.
- Influencer Marketing - If you’re willing to allot some of your budget for free products, this social media marketing strategy could be a winner for your business. Find key influencers in your industry and arrange deals where they showcase your brand in exchange for free items and/or a fee.
- Go Live - Both Instagram and Facebook offer live video streaming options. This allows you to talk directly to your audience in the moment where you can share tutorials, entertainment, answer questions, or deliver important information.
Pay Per Click - Paid Advertising
Say your business is producing incredible content on the website and social media but you want to get even more eyes on your hard work.
What’s the solution? Advertising.
Whether you’re trying to boost traffic to your website, direct your followers to opt into the email list, or get more views on your sales page, ads can help. The numbers back up the hype when it comes to PPC, too.
- PPC - ‘Pay Per Click’ ads (Google Search Ads) work exactly how they sound, your ad is presented to search engine users and you pay a small fee each time the ad is clicked on.
- Instagram Ads - Similar to PPC ads, Instagram ads can help boost traffic to a particular post, profile, or website. You’ll have options for target audiences, the duration of the ad, and the amount to spend each day.
- Facebook Ads - Same as Instagram Ads, but over on Facebook. It’s a good idea to experiment with your Facebook ad spend on each platform and with different audiences to figure out the best business marketing technique for you.
- Podcast Ads - Discover a popular podcast in your business niche? Consider becoming a sponsor. The host will read your pre-written ad and share your business with their audience. You can also opt for general Spotify ads.
Remember the power of social media we talked about earlier?
The interesting thing about the way the digital world has evolved is that it’s not just businesses that accumulate large followings and influence in the world anymore. Individuals from all walks of life can create a booming online presence with followers who are really invested in what they have to say.
Strategic partnerships can become an insanely successful business marketing strategy for brands who play their cards right.
Here are just a few ways to try this business marketing technique within your brand.
- Affiliate Marketing - Spread the word to more networks about your business using an affiliate marketing program. Partners will share about your products in exchange for a small commission if one of their leads results in a sale.
- Coupons or Discount Codes - Use special discounts as a ‘thank you’ for existing customers or to entice new audiences to give your business a try.
- Membership Program - For those extra-devoted customers, create a membership program that gives them exclusive early access to new offers, select discounts, and other perks.
Every move a business makes online and in-person plays a part in shaping the brand’s reputation. For better or worse, it’s never been easier for customers and strangers alike to share their thoughts and feelings about your business with the world online.
Managing client expectations, gathering information about ways to improve, and resolving client issues isn’t a job that purely resides in the customer service department, it’s an important business marketing strategy, too. Here are the basics of reputation management.
- Customer Experiences or Profiles - Encourage your clients to share their success stories after working with your business by asking about their experiences. These can be used to promote your business on your website, in “customer success profiles”, and more. Having a first-hand client experience on file is always useful. This tactic can literally pay off. Status Labs reported, “a 5% annual increase from businesses that asked customers to leave an online review (from 46% in 2018 to 51% in 2019).”
- Respond to Reviews on Yelp and Google - Negative or positive, your business needs to be responsive on review sites like Yelp and Google. A short, simple ‘thank you’ or suggestion of another opportunity to engage can go a long way to inspiring a repeat purchase. On the other hand, doing your best to resolve issues is also important for other customers to see.
- Follow-Up Programs - Want to really go the extra mile for those important clients? Establish a follow-up program to show them how much you appreciate their business. A gift, handwritten note, or series of emails with discounts are all popular options.
The modern consumer is all about the experience factor. They want to feel seen, known and understood, and physically brought into the story of your business. Experiential marketing has blown up in the past decade. These types of business marketing experiences often surprise, delight, and engage your audience with an activity, art installation, community event, workshop, or other interactive feature.
- Host a Workshop - Transform that webinar into an in-person interaction by hosting a workshop. This opportunity gets you up close and personal with audiences and offers more incentives for participation like networking and hands-on assistance.
- Plan a Conference - Take those industry connections to the next level by planning a conference. Whether it’s a day or a whole weekend, you can decide what speakers and events to include, giving you plenty of opportunities to hit home with your audience.
- Create a Pop-up - Get creative with local partnerships and events to design relevant pop-up experiences to promote your brand. It’s a good idea to offer some sort of free gift or activity so that people walk away with a tangible reminder of the experience.
The yearning for personal touches and transparency in business is often best fulfilled through publicity opportunities. The best part about these events is that in many cases they’re coupled with other marketing benefits like link building, podcast features, email shoutouts, and more.
Get creative when using this business marketing technique to check off multiple boxes from your strategy list.
- Pitch Yourself - The best way to get publicity opportunities is to pitch yourself for them. Learn the best practices for pitching your business to news outlets, interview opportunities, and events to increase your chances.
- Speak on a Panel - Increase your credibility and visibility by taking part in a panel discussion at an event.
- Speak at a Conference - Conferences have already gathered a large group of your target audiences into one room for you, all you have to do is show up and speak to them. Get to know your audience better and sell your product or service directly to them.
- Speak to a Local University - Give back to the up-and-coming graduates in your community while also planting seeds for potential future customers or even employees.
Traditional Business Marketing
Just because we live in the digital age, doesn’t mean that more traditional business marketing methods are no longer needed.
This category encompasses all the printed marketing materials you might use when networking, attending a conference, presenting a sales pitch or adding unique features to your office space.
According to Business2Community, 39% of customers reported that they’d be open to try working with a business for the first time due to direct mail marketing. These are six types of traditional business marketing collateral that still pack a punch in the modern world.
- Business Cards - Nothing beats a smart-looking business card to help you leave a lasting first impression. Modernize your business cards with a QR Code or unique shape.
- Brochures - Useful takeaways to bring along to conferences, events, or meetings to satisfy the hands-on learners you’re marketing to.
- Newsletters - Certain brands and audiences can find a ton of value in taking the extra time to create personal, hard-copy newsletters. Bonus points if you write or sign the letter by hand.
- Books - Why stop at an eBook? Turn your inspiring business story into a best-seller by publishing the physical book, too.
- Magazines - Set your business apart from competitors and establish a magazine highlighting the latest information about your industry.
- Product Catalogues - Create a quarterly or annual product calendar to ship to your top customers, or mass-produce them for a direct mail option.
Step Four: Get Support for Your Business Marketing Projects
Congratulations, you’ve made it to the end of the article, and hopefully have a better understanding of the steps needed to create a successful business marketing strategy.
If you’re thinking, “this is way too much for one person to achieve alone”, don’t worry.
Step Four is all about getting the support you need to make the marketing magic happen without the stress.
Running a business is a lot of work, so hiring professional help for your business marketing projects is common. Depending on the type of marketing strategy and your business’ budget, you can hire a marketing consultant, coach, freelancer, or agency to support your projects.
If you ever need assistance with any marketing activity, you’ll usually find a ton of opportunities from freelancers to marketing agencies ready to help you out.
Here’s to your growth!