Brilliant ideas don’t always have grand beginnings. In fact, there are several visionaries who were known for scribbling the first iterations of their genius in notepads or on cocktail napkins and Post-It notes. Robert Metcalfe, who co-invented Ethernet, sketched his first ideas on napkins in the early 1970s (which are on display at the DigiBarn Computer Museum in Northern California.) Even Twitter had a sketchy start with an early drawing, when it was called stat.us or twttr, which co-founder Jack Dorsey posted in 2006 on Flickr.
There is no 5-minute hack that will boost your web traffic by 200%, but here are some simple insights that can guide your marketing efforts.
- Start with the channels that are the best fit, but figure out how you can use others that are less obvious. When you start thinking about marketing, there are likely going to be marketing channels and social media options that are an obvious fit for your brand or company. If you sell handmade jewelry, for example, it’s hard to believe you won’t be on Pinterest or Instagram. If you’re a restaurant, you’re going to want to cultivate reviews on sites like Yelp or Google Reviews. But don’t cross other channels off your list entirely. If your jewelry business does most of its sales online and you’re finding a lot of customers are abandoning items in their shopping carts, an AdWords remarketing campaign might be appropriate for you. If you’re a restaurant in your city’s financial district that gets a lot of business lunches, a targeted campaign on LinkedIn among the local office managers and administrators might be useful.
- Don’t stop optimizing. You often don’t realize how much your business has changed until you go back and look at what you were doing a year ago or even three months ago. Your strategies, product offerings, and even what you view as your competitive strengths may have changed. Unfortunately, many businesses have web pages, advertising campaigns, and marketing materials that do not change with them and are outdated. They haven’t been altered or updated because no one has bothered to go back and think about whether they still apply. Make sure to periodically review ad campaigns and marketing materials to ensure they are still up-to-date.
- Don’t forget to market to your existing customers. Don’t take your customers for granted! Your own customers are more likely to be interested in your new product or service offerings and news about your company than non-customers. Remind your current customers about yourself or your business and encourage them to try other products or services, or to recommend you to their friends. Provide them with a little value for free either in the form of promotions, discounts, advice, or swag. Just don’t be obnoxious about it; nobody likes being hounded by a company they are already paying.
- Keep up-to-date on new advertising opportunities and changes to existing platforms. The digital advertising world is constantly changing. New social media platforms become popular and existing platforms change their rules and functionality. Keep up-to-date on these changes so that you don’t let opportunities slip by, or so you don’t appear outdated and irrelevant. Make sure you also keep abreast of changes on existing advertising channels, like Google AdWords’ change from standard ads to expanded ads.
- Don’t let a lack of expertise or internal capacity limit your marketing efforts. You can’t afford to be too busy running your business to engage in marketing. Even if you can’t yet afford to hire more full-time staff, there are plenty of other online options—such as virtual assistants—to use as resources that can allow you to import expertise and get up and running quickly with minimal costs and effort.
While napkins may not stand up to cloud storage or external hard drives, many impressive ideas started as mere scribbles. By sticking to these five simple marketing ideas, you can avoid unnecessary online legwork while simultaneously continuing to improve your organization’s marketing strategies and effectiveness.