“My shop/restaurant/hotel is already making great revenue, but many businesses in Bali are going digital and I need to catch up… how can I start online marketing for my growing business?”
In an attempt to attract attention and sell quickly, many business owners scramble to launch a half-baked website and sign up for social media accounts without a clear online marketing goal.
But this can hurt their brand in the long run, because Internet users are clever – they can tell the difference between valuable content and noise.
A good strategy can help steer all forms of online marketing campaigns in the right direction – providing content that the market genuinely cares about.
So how do you start low-risk internet marketing?
In principle, you’ll need to do the following, preferably in this order:
Market research (again).
Fill out the information that you may not have gathered yet from your previous market research
Use social proof to your advantage. It’s more affordable than you think.
Organic social media content.
While your brand affiliate is at work, post social media content, and connect with relevant followers.
Talk directly to your customers.
Replying to comments, answering messages, and commenting on customers’ posts are clever PR moves that give your brand a human touch.
When brand awareness has been established, it’s time to advertise to those who consider buying your products.
We keep the most difficult and time-consuming step for last, but do not ever skip this step!
This is part one of the series, Guide to Internet Marketing on a Budget and will cover market research and affiliate marketing. Stay tuned for the next part!
You may have already done market research before launching your business. However, you should extend the research and fill out potentially missing information like:
1. Their responsibilities
Ask about your market’s daily activities, responsibilities, and encountered problems. You may start by asking the questions within context of your products that can be used, but don’t limit yourself. You may come across unexpected answers that can open up to deeper, more creative questions (see point 4).
2. Pain points
Some customers aren’t aware of their own problems or wants. Innovative tech companies often create something new that may not necessarily solve an apparent, surface-level problem.
For example, laptops have existed since before Apple released its first MacBook. But MacBooks were the first laptops to employ sleek and simplistic designs, not to mention the unique OS that offers an entirely new experience to users. These users didn’t know that aesthetics could be a problem for conventional laptops.
3. DIY questions
Find out what your customers did to solve their problems before they knew your products. Also, take note of the kind of content that they consume. The content may not directly reflect their problem-solving process, but this kind of content may give clues to the deeper motivations of your customers (see below).
4. Deeper motivations
It is helpful to know the deeper motivations and desires of your customers that accompany the surface-level problem.
For example, on the surface, Starbucks sells coffee, yet not everyone who drinks coffee goes to Starbucks. People like Starbucks for various reasons – the personal service (the need to feel important), the interior design (the need for aesthetics), the work-friendly ambiance (the need for a reliable work environment), and how it appears in nearly every city in the world (familiarity effect, the need for convenience).
Identify what your current customers value, and figure out the hidden, deeper motivations that lead them to purchase your products. It’s useful to refer to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs when analyzing your customer’s deeper problems (deeper pain points).
5. The roadblocks
Despite recognizing the problems and taking action by researching the solutions, your customers will be met with factors that prevent or delay them from solving all their problems. A common factor is time and perceived risk.
Constructing a content guideline
Use all the information that you’ve gathered to help map out your buyers’ journey. In constructing your content strategy, employ certain messages or themes at every stage of the buyers’ journey.
Use information on pain points and deeper motivations to create Problem Awareness.
Use your customers’ DIY solutions and insights on preferred content to create a series of Informational Content, answering their questions ahead of competitors. Be mindful of the format of content that they prefer – research reports, infographics, videos, blogs, photos, etc.
Use insights on what prevents or delays your customers’ problem-solving process (their roadblocks) to create Value Offering Content, which is the type of content that shows how problems can be solved and how your products can help.
Influencer (or Affiliate) Marketing
When people think of influencers, they think of “celeb grams” and people with a high number of followers on social media. They are not completely correct.
In theory, anyone who fits into your buyer persona, who has at least one person trusting them, can become a brand affiliate. Of course, that person should have a great number of trusting followers in order to make affiliate marketing effective.
You can use tools such as BuzzSumo, Ninja, and LinkedIn to find potential brand affiliates. Some tips on finding them are as follows:
1. They care about their content and personal brand.
The more your affiliates care about their content and personal brand, the more reliable they are. This implies several things about your potential brand affiliates.
Their followers are not fake. They filter out followers that are irrelevant, low-quality (those who follow for the sake of being followed), and those that will hurt their image. Their content will be of high-quality, with active discussions in the comments.
Paying for these brand affiliates won’t be as costly as you would think. They will care about sustaining their image for future affiliation, and gaining more high-quality followers, perhaps more than earning money.
2. They should be thought leaders with credibility.
Look at their past content collection. If it’s dominated by content that was published for promotional purposes, it’s a big red flag.
Your potential brand affiliate shouldn’t post content for the sake of posting (and making money alone). They should also post original content, with their own unique thoughts, insights, and teachings that contribute to an active community.
3. Maintain a good relationship with your brand affiliate.
An affiliate partnership is not a one-time thing. Remember, your brand affiliate is also one of your customers. They are simply giving reviews and posting content around your brand to their audience.
A good long-term relationship starts with clear boundaries on what is expected from both parties. It may be possible in the future that your business is not satisfactory to your market and brand affiliate.
Discuss what happens in this scenario, and what actions to take when the relationship between the brand and the ambassador is not going as planned.
What’s happening at this stage so far?
You are currently planting seeds for carefully planned Brand Awareness. Market research allows you to determine your goals for everything you will do in the coming weeks and months.
Affiliate marketing at this stage allows you to begin your long-term branding campaign through word-of-mouth, with as little financial risk as possible. This stage can also help you to re-evaluate your market research.
Continuously ask yourself:
Have I reached the right market? What features are missing that makes my products less satisfying to customers?
Many people make the mistake of blindly creating content without a real audience in mind. With affiliate marketing, you are in contact with at least one of your ideal buyers. Listen to your affiliate, listen to your audience, and quickly improve upon your products. Otherwise, find other markets that are more appropriate for your products.
Would you like some help with branding?
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