The world of online marketing can be overwhelming. Not to mention the fact that as small business owners, we don’t often have the time to learn the skills necessary to succeed in this space.

At Ansley Creative 👋, we have years of experience working with small businesses and helping them achieve their business goals with a results-oriented approach to design for online marketing.

Today we’re sharing our 3 essentials for marketing your business online. This post is for entrepreneurs, small business owners, and startups. It will provide a foundation for launching a winning online marketing strategy.

  • Can this post answer all your marketing questions? No.
  • Is it a copy-and-paste strategy guaranteed to succeed? No.
  • Will you discover valuable principles which, if understood and applied, will increase the effectiveness of your online marketing? Absolutely!

1. Your business needs a clear and distinct reason for existence.

Recently, I read the book “Start With Why” by Simon Sinek. It helped to reinforce my belief in the impact of strong branding. Sinek argues that a key marker of successful companies is the fact that they have a clearly defined “Why” – a reason for existence. For instance, my own design agency, Ansley Creative doesn’t exist to design logos or websites. That is what we do, but why we do it is much greater: We want to help businesses succeed in a digitally-driven world.

Discovering your purpose as a business is something that can come naturally and quickly, or it can take some serious consideration. I cannot tell you what your why should be, but I can tell you a few things it should not be:

  1. Make money – Businesses are expected to do this, it’s not a good enough reason to exist.
  2. Sell product “x” or service “y” – You’re thinking too small. Even the most revolutionary products and services have a greater purpose.
  3. Offer competitive features or advantages – This is how you do what you do, but it’s still not why you do it. Dig deeper, you’re almost there!

When you have established a clear purpose for your business, everything else becomes so much easier.

2. Your business needs a unified online presence.

In terms of scope, I believe you need a website; you need to list your business on Google, Yelp, and other relevant listing sites; and you need to have at least one social media account (probably Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn to start). These things should just be expected when you enter the world of online marketing.

Let me explain the purpose of each component above. The website is the place where you control the user experience and you own the data collected. Listings help to drive traffic and make it easier for customers to find you in their searches. Finally, the social profile you choose to focus on will be your foundation for building influence and marketing your business.

However, simply existing on these platforms is not enough. Your website, business listings, and social media profile or page must all tell the same story about your business.

Make sure each listing and social profile has accurate information for your business.

A great tool for checking the accuracy of your various accounts is the My Business Listing tool by Moz. You can use this tool to search for your business online, find out where it’s already posted, then take action to unify those listings and improve your effectiveness online.

Take advantage of branding opportunities.

All pages need to match the visual identity of your business; I’m talking about taking the time to upload a well designed profile photo and banner image or video when available. Not sure where to get something like that? Well, it happens to be what we do here at Ansley Creative. But if you’re not ready to jump into a new relationship we’re cool 😢… no, seriously! Check out Canva—their free design tools will make it easy for you to get started on your own.

Keeping your logo and colours consistent from place to place online will really help increase recognition of your brand.

3. Your business needs a smart social content strategy.

In this post, we’re not going to cover paid advertising online. But we are going to talk about the content you should be posting regularly and for free. In this regard, what do I mean by smart strategy? A few things…

Online marketing is more than a sales pitch. Don’t just make noise – add value.

First, your content (the images, videos, and text updates you share) needs to be more than a constant sales pitch. Unfortunately, this is how many small businesses use social media. In this industry, I’ve heard many people give the 80/20 principle as a good starting point. This means 80% of your posts on social should be of direct and immediate value or interest to your target audience and 20% is left for posts more focused on your brand, products, or services.

Whatever it takes, establish a consistent schedule.

To be perfectly honest, we’ve done a better job of this for our clients than we do for ourselves.

My father is an entrepreneur who started his own business when I was young. As we began to grow Ansley Creative, I remember him telling me “You are your first client.” Looking back, I wish I took those words more seriously.

I say that to say I know how it can be when running a small business. It’s easy to get bogged down in the grind and forget the bigger picture. We’re working hard to change that here. Below are the goals we’ve set for our own social content.

  1. Post at least 3 times a week.
  2. Design posts 1-2 weeks in advance.
  3. Schedule posts to stay ahead of the curve.

We use a few different tools for scheduling posts to social media. For Instagram, we love Apphi Post and the vast feature-set it boasts. For Facebook, we use the native scheduling functions available to page admins. Currently that’s the extent of our in-house schedule. For other projects and clients we have gone a few steps further, integrating tools like Buffer, Hootsuite, AirTable, and Google Sheets to make sure we’re a clear picture of how everything ties together to tell a unified story.

Follow the data.

Make sure you’re not getting ahead of yourself, scheduling a few months worth of content without knowing what’s working. Keep a close eye on what your audience is engaging with. Look at the insights available on each social platform and see what content drives the results you’re looking for and adjust course accordingly. Scale up what’s working and cut what’s not. Always follow the data.

In Conclusion

Hopefully this post is of some value to you on your journey of small business growth. As always, we’re here to help. We truly desire to help businesses succeed in a digitally-driven world and that means we’re committed to answering your questions and guiding you through the process. If something we said above resonated with you, drop a comment below or share it with a friend.

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