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Digital marketing: 3 tips to successfully market your small business online

As any modern-day small business owner knows, there’s no substitute for a good online marketing strategy. But that strategy casts a wide net, from building a social media presence to search engine optimization (SEO) to email marketing. The goal, here, isn’t just to attract followers, but to engage with them and monetize that engagement. So how do you do that?

In this episode of Mind The Business: Small Business Success Stories, hosts Austin Hankwitz and Jannese Torres-Rodriguez, and guest, Andrea Casanova, share their online marketing strategies. Listen to the full episode below.

Here are a few of this episode’s key takeaways:

1. Know where your traffic comes from

A big mistake business owners make when building out their online strategy is assuming all their traffic comes from social media. 

“I had to learn that followers [do] not equal dollars,” says Jannese, who came to better understand SEO in her journey as a blogger. “I realize now that 90% of my traffic comes from SEO,” she explains. “It doesn't come from social media. It comes from folks going on a search engine and typing in a recipe that they're looking for.”

To improve her SEO, Jannese says it’s important to target the right audience. Rather than immediately turning to paid ads to advertise your business, she recommends doing one-on-one consultations to make sure you’re qualifying the right people who are going to get the most benefit out of your product.

2. Create a brand archetype

Before you can market to the right customer, you need to know who that customer is. And a big part of identifying that customer is knowing who you, as a brand, are too. 

“Contrary to popular belief, a ‘brand’ does not necessarily mean that it's a corporation or an organization,” says Andrea. To her, having a brand means having boundaries. “[Customers know] what you stand for, what you don't stand for, the way that you speak and the way that you feel,” she says.

To better help potential customers understand your brand, she recommends business owners create a brand archetype. One way to do that is to identify a character on screen that you think would be a good fit for your products or services.

“The Explorer is a brand archetype, for example. It's a character that represents breaking the status quo and going out there and discovering new things,” explains Andrea. “You see a lot of adventure creators or travel creators embodying this brand archetype.” 

Andrea recommends business owners identify and test out various archetypes to see which one they relate to best. Then communicate with your customers or clients using that archetype.

3. Identify and fill your messaging gaps

It’s one thing to know you need a social media strategy. It’s another to bring it to life. If you’re someone who cringes at the thought of managing your business’s entire social media presence, consider breaking down the components one by one. Then, and only then, should you decide where to put your social media budget. 

“My recommendation is to always understand where your gaps are,” says Andrea. “What can you do in-house? What can you do yourself?” 

The first step is to break up your marketing components. Ask yourself, “What is a hat I can realistically wear right now, and where are the gaps?” For instance, you might be able to film yourself. Or maybe you feel comfortable dabbling into organic social content. But editing might be outside your current skill set. In that case, your gap is video editing, and a job you need to hire for is a video editor.

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Always understand where your gaps are.

Another aspect to consider is personal touch. When filling your gaps, you may find that it’s better to learn certain skills so you can manage the details. “Even for me, I do have a team, but I still do a lot of the nitty gritty, just because I love that it has my touch,” says Andrea. Those details can help make your content feel exclusive to your brand. 

Finally, it’s important to think about your budget. “In my opinion, you should always go organic first, then paid, because that way you have data to work off of,” explains Andrea. You’ll also need to make some tough choices regarding the gaps you’ve identified. For instance, maybe you know you have gaps in video editing and copywriting, but you don’t have money to pay for both. You’ll need to decide which of those is worth the investment—financially, or in personal time. 

There’s plenty more to learn when it comes to building an effective online marketing strategy.

About the Mind the Business podcast

New business? No problem. Mind the Business: Small Business Success Stories, from the team at Intuit QuickBooks, is the source for tools and resources for small business owners as they face new hills to climb. Hosts Jannese Torres (Yo Quiero Dinero podcast) and Austin Hankwitz (Rate of Return podcast) connect with entrepreneurs across industries as they start and grow their businesses. From securing funding to building a team, they'll uncover what it takes to power success.

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