Covid-19 hit us all very hard in 2020— shifting virtually the entire world as we know it out of place.
Businesses big and small quickly had to pivot from the everyday hustle and bustle of offices and storefronts to the safe sterility of virtual operations from home. This translated into daily Zoom meetings in sweats, how-to tutorials on website design, and many, many mental breakdowns.
Although a majority of the covid-related legal restrictions are gradually being lifted, the pandemic seems to have changed the way we do business forever. For example, many businesses have opted to permanently maintain the downsizing of their physical office space in favor of continuing operations virtually in order to keep overhead costs at a minimum (talk about an office pajama party for life, eh?).
From the beginning of the pandemic to now, no one in the business world has been hit as hard as the small business sector. Mom-and-pop restaurants, nail salons, hairdressers, caterers, and all other types of local and beloved businesses have sadly faced permanent shutdowns due to restrictions.
You yourself might be struggling with keeping your small business afloat. Figuring out the logistics of how to recover from the economic downturn of the past year is likely causing you several headaches at once.
Hopefully, you’re already a step ahead of what we’re about to say— that any small or new business’s success lies in digital marketing. That you’re setting your business up for failure if you don’t invest in digital marketing. That the future of business is in digital marketing.
If you’re not on that wavelength yet, then lucky for you that we’re here. We’re here to help you and your business move toward an intentional digital marketing path that’ll revitalize your company message and outreach.
Step 1: Social Media
You may have a Facebook account that you post on every other month and an Instagram account that you’ve forgotten the password of. You might say, “Eh, good enough. We’re out there, aren’t we?”
No, dude. Not good enough. If you’re not posting on those accounts consistently and intentionally, then you might as well not be posting at all. (Harsh, we know— but it’s the truth.)
Know Your Social Media Demographics
Social media is an easy, free way to do some semi-organic marketing for your company. Everyone and their mother has some form of social media these days, whether it’s Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest— whatever. Funny that we even mentioned your mother, because according to basic demographics she’s most likely on Facebook— considering that about 40 percent of Facebook users in the US are 45 and older.
Sidenote, it’s important to understand the varying demographics (especially of age) across each social media platform. This knowledge will help you in cross-referencing between the key demographics you know you already reach and the key demographics that you believe you have a potential market in; alongside the social media platform that they’re most likely populating, respectively.
Make Social Media Work for You for Free
For example, let’s say that you run a small and quaint Mediterranean restaurant that’s locally known for the wonderfully authentic experience in the food and indoor atmosphere you provide to the clientele. Of course, Covid then went ahead and took away half of that equation from you— if not more. No indoor atmosphere, no real experience aside from ordering takeout. What do you do?
Well, utilize social media to address your strengths. Mediterranean food is famous for being healthy, aesthetically pleasing, and (of course) delicious. This is the part where you turn to Instagram and work on your amateur photography and copywriting skills to creatively reach both existing and potential customers on the internet through engaging posts, captions, and hashtags.
On top of that, you can even motivate followers to interact with your content by advertising randomized meal giveaways or gift cards— on the condition that they tag three friends in the comments section or repost the original post on their story. This is a great way to encourage direct messaging and interaction with a growing customer base.
Step 2: Build Your Website
Okay fine, we’ll admit it— this step sounds a little intimidating. And sure, it has some “sub”-steps to it. But we promise you, it’s as straightforward as it gets. And it’s the natural progression from the stepping stone that social media represents. Besides, we can just break it down to the bare basics for you:
1. Choose and buy an awesome domain name.
What’s that, you ask? It’s just the part of your website address that follows the “www.” part. You know, like this:
This then translates into your awesome professional email address, like this:
(Tip: The most awesome domains are short, easy to remember, and include a keyword that best represents your business!)
2. Plan your new and awesome website.
What kind of website is it? Do you offer services, products, or both? Do you want to take the time to build your brand? Your voice? Do you want to inspire? Do you want to be informative?
Are you looking to merely showcase what products you carry in-store, or would you like potential consumers to buy directly off your website? (The latter requires an e-commerce setup, which is a subject we’ll save for later.)
The more specific your objectives are, the better your website’s layout will be.
3. Design your new and awesome website.
Sadly, we’re not all born with magical graphic design and website-building superpowers— but that’s okay! You’ve got plenty of options.
You can go with an easy, DIY website builder— there are so many out there that lay out all the steps for you as easily as 1-2-3. To be honest though, we do recommend hiring a professional website designer (ahem, ahem we’ve got a few of those). Sure, you might feel a teensy ding in your pocket— but man, it’ll be worth the investment when you see how many more people stay on your website because of its blend of artistry and professionalism.
4. Content is KING, baby.
Fine, you may not know what that means— yet. But we digital marketers sure do.
The key to reaching your key demographics (and beyond) lies in the skill of storytelling. You might be scratching your head right now, thinking to yourself, “But I do landscaping, dude. Plus, I totally failed English in high school.”
Okay fine— you might not be a skilled writer like the person who typed this very piece into existence, but everyone’s got a story. So… what’s yours?
What’s Your Story?
- How’d you start your business?
- What gets you excited about your industry?
- What makes you different from everyone else?
- Why should people go to you, and not the other dude 5 miles away from you?
Every entrepreneur has a flame of passion for what they do and something that makes them unique. The more compelling your story, the more effective your website will be.
Hell, you could even grab the best writer you know to help you fill your website’s pages out. All you have to do is give them your vision and the basics of what you do.
5. Pair the King up there (^^) with his bestie, SEO, so that actual people can find your actual website (wooh, that’s exciting!)
It’s complicated, but it’s not. You could have the coolest, dopest, most gorgeous website on the planet— but if you’re not incorporating SEO into it, your site is as good as dead.
What’s SEO, You Ask?
SEO = Search Engine Optimization.
This is the process of specifically tailoring and refining a website in order to organically get higher rankings on the big, bad SERP (search engine results page) and visitors to your site. (When we say organically, we mean without the use of paid/sponsored search engine placement.)
How Does SEO Work, You Ask?
Well, after you or your techy friend have done all the fun backend stuff on your website (you know, like connecting to Google Search Console or whatever) to alert the search engine bots that your site is alive and running; they scan it, index all the information on your web pages, and analyze your content (ahem, the King!) to determine how valuable and relevant said content is— and ultimately decide how high on the SERPs your website should be displayed with each given query.
Don’t let the bots scare you. Regardless of what search engine they work for, they’re all scanning for the same things:
- Relevant content. Take care of the King, and the King will take care of the bots and, well, you.
- Keywords. Use tools like Google’s Keyword Planner to figure out what exactly people who might be interested in your website are searching for these days.
- Get meta, dude. Meta tags are essential— they’re HTML tags full of information that help search engines figure out what your site is about. (They’re the small text under your website’s hyperlinked title that helps describe your website in the SERPs.)
- Give some direction with your sitemap. A sitemap is essentially a bridge between each page on your website and the search engine. It helps guide the search engine bots in navigating your website via the names and locations of the pages.