This is part 1 of a 2 part article. You can link to part 2 HERE

The marketing world is changing fast as technology influences how people search for solutions and buy products. This digital marketing guide is a mix of questions I’ve been asked by SME business owners and managers over the past few years. I’ve extracted 101 marketing tips to consider when setting up and marketing your business

I hope you enjoy the read.

1. Name your company
This seems like a no brainer but there are a few things worth considering. If you have a high street store, then Joe Bloggs and Son may be fine. But if you need to have a strong online presence perhaps it might be better to include your profession or service e.g. Bloggs Accountancy to aid online visibility and recognition and improve the search results.

2. Register your domain name
Before you can get a website built you need to register your domain name e.g., this is sometimes called a web address and there are many companies that offer registration services and you can check on availability of your domain name idea here.

3. Get your website built
There are plenty of web designers and web developers around but it’s important that you find the right one for your business. Ask around for referrals, check out each web developer’s own website and their recent portfolio (do all of their designs look the same?), read client reviews and if possible speak to some of their existing clients. Then get a quote and a timeline. 
Make sure to tell them that you want the website optimized for the search engines.

4. Understand the importance of your website
If you walked into a shop and the décor was tatty, the service was shoddy and the room was badly lit you’d probably walk out. Why do you think it’s any different in the online world? The look and feel and user experience of a website is important as is the quality and relevance of the page content.

5. Layout your home page
Your home page may provide your visitor with the first impression of your business or brand so take time to think about the design and keep the navigation simple with good clear paths to your key products and services.

6. Optimise your website for search
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is in a state of flux as Google move us away from being fixated on key phrases and drive us towards providing good quality, relevant content that engages our audience. However it’s still important to make sure you check your web pages to ensure you’re promoting  positive signals to the search engines.

7. Make sure to add Google Analytics tracking code to your site
You need to sign up to a Google account and Google provide you with a piece of code that your webmaster can add to the pages on your site (or blog).

8. Link your Google Analytics to the Google Search Console
The Google Search Console (formerly known as Google Webmaster tools) provides additional information on your website that you’ll find useful.

9. Add social share icons
When a visitor lands on your web page or blog you should encourage them to share your interesting content with their social networks, helping to distribute your content to a wider audience.

10. Create strong Calls to Action
This is what you expect your prospect to do when they arrive at the landing page. Make it clear and concise and don’t offer too many options (Think about one primary and one secondary) e.g. register for our online newsletter and call 01234 56789 today.

11. Consider setting your domain to HTTPS
Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) provides users and websites with a more secure online experience as the data between your browser and your website is encrypted. It’s now a Google ranking factor.

12. Create your brand
It’s been said that your brand is what people say about your business when you’re not in the room but what people think of your business is based on experience and built over time. It’s so much more than a logo and should encompass the culture of your business.

13. Be aware of IP and copyright issues
Not everyone online adheres to the rule of law so my recommendation is to get professional advice on IP, copyright and registration. Likewise, don’t steal or copy content from other businesses websites or blogs, it will lead to trouble.

14. Grab your social media names
If you’re starting a new business venture or just getting into social media, make sure that you register your social media “handles” for all platforms that you may want to be active on and even for those you don’t plan to get involved with at this stage.

15. Find your niche
It’s a busy world out there and businesses need to stand head and shoulders above the competition. The businesses that are thriving don’t offer “me too” products, services or experiences, they’ve established their own voice, culture and service ethos and understand that they need to invest in the buyer evolution.

16. Create a written marketing plan
Having a written marketing plan that everyone in the company understands and buys into, probably puts your business in the minority and that’s an advantage worth having over the competition.

17. Understand your audience
Taking the shotgun approach will cost you time and money. Even if your product or service will appeal to a mass market it’s still possible to segment (or narrow down) your target market to help you tailor your marketing messages to the people who will be most interested in what you offer.

18. Be aware of your competition but don’t blindly follow them
It’s important that you make your business decisions based on your own aims and objectives but it pays to keep an eye on what your competitors are up to. If they come up with a good idea, take it and improve it. Find out where they’re strong and why and learn from that. Try to exploit their weaknesses to your own advantage.

19. Analyse your own strengths and weaknesses
Over the last few years there have been some fundamental changes in the options available within the marketing mix (the tools at the disposal of marketers). So, it’s a good idea to check out the skill set within your business to identify the skills gaps you have and identify how you’ll plug them.

20. Know what business you’re really in
For example, does your company manufacture drill bits or are you  in the business of making holes? 
How you answer these questions will have a massive impact on the value proposition, messaging and strategic direction of the business.

21. Create your value proposition
Before anyone clicks on anything they’ll consider “what’s in it for me”. By understanding your audience you’ll be able to cater for their needs and wants and create a great offer that you know they’ll find valuable.

22. Position your business for your audience
As an individual or a business, identifying and understanding your niche is only the first step in your journey towards market domination. It’s equally important for your audience to understand how you can help them.

23. Decide the outcome you want
Generally, objectives focus on either revenue or profitability but whatever you choose, make sure they’re SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timed/Targeted).

24. Don’t procrastinate
With technology driving attention spans down below that of a goldfish, there’s no time to waste. Putting good ideas on the back burner means they’ll probably never be completed.

25. Get your business found online
There are two ways to get your business found via the search engines, one is organically (or free), the other is to pay for results.
You need to decide the correct mix of organic and paid traffic for your business.

26. Make sure your business gets chosen
Driving visitors to your site is only a part of the equation, if you’re getting lots of visits but no conversions then it’s time for a rethink. Make sure your visitors are being driven to the appropriate web pages with clear Calls To Action (CTA’s).

27. Focus on your mobile audience
Mobile search is on the increase and having a mobile enabled website is a ranking factor in mobile search results. Google are taking a Mobile First approach.

28. Set up a Google My Business account
Google My Business, formerly Google Places, is a free listing and is linked to Google Maps and Google+. It allows you to add a lot more information about your company, including photos and video, which also helps you take up more on-screen space in the SERPS results.

29. Make sure your database is clean and up-to-date
Your database can decay by almost 25% per year. Put together a database management process and don’t be afraid to purge your list.

30. Don’t buy in lists of data
It’s just not worth it, what are the chances that someone who signed up for an enewsletter or bought a specific service online is going to be interested in what you’re selling, just because of his job title or address? Spend your time building your own audience.

31. Be aware of best practice but question it
Generally businesses have tended to try and improve performance by emulating the systems and processes of the top companies in their respective markets. But rather than trying to replicate the operational performance of other businesses, making your client or customer the focus of your attention may reap dividends and in the process you may become a leader rather than a follower.

32. Concentrate on the solutions and benefits you offer
Understanding how your products and services can help your audience improve their business by reducing their costs, reducing time to market, increasing their margins, increasing their ROI etc. and then telling them how to do this by publishing content on your site and across the internet places you in a stronger position against the competition.

33. Take a look outside your market sector
The B2B and B2C market sectors are not the separate entities they once were so don’t be afraid to pull ideas across from one section to the other, if appropriate for your audience. B2C websites can offer up some interesting ideas to help you promote your solutions.

34. Don’t be afraid to shout about what you have to offer
Don’t be a shrinking violet, if you don’t have an opinion then why should anyone listen to you. “Me too” companies who follow the leader end up with the crumbs that fall off the plate.

35. Reassess your current marketing activities
Make sure you’re current marketing activities are delivering results. 
Digital marketing offers a way to precisely target your audience and activities can be tracked, measured and modified almost instantly.

36. Debunk the myths
Far too often businesses get stuck in a rut and continue blindly following the same old paths, getting the same old results (if we can track them) because it’s always been done this way. The markets are changing and you need to change too.

37. Consider Pull Marketing
Inbound marketing techniques use the power of the internet to pull visitors towards your offer. Its central tenet is the creation, publishing and promotion of interesting, relevant and educational content targeted at your key buyer personas. You’re not interrupting anyone, people are actively searching for what you provide, when they find your content and click through to your site, they’re already expressing an interest in your solutions.

38. Content drives the internet
Content drives search and the search engines love new exciting content. New content can have a positive effect on the number of web pages indexed, increase the number of inbound links to your site, both of which will help drive you further up the search rankings.

39. Create a content marketing plan
Your content plan will be directly related to your business objectives and your customers’ needs. It will provide strategic direction on how your content and content marketing processes will help you to achieve specific objectives.

40. Understand your media options
There are different types of media and determining the correct combination can make the difference between a successful campaign and failure.

41. Don’t be a follower or settle for just “ok”
How do you position your business in the marketplace? What makes you different? Why should you be chosen over your competitors? 
As Steve Jobs said many years ago

You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back towards the technology – not the other way around

42. Punch above your weight
Every business has its own unique story to tell. Content marketing allows you to do that and the plan sets out how you are going to tell that story to the world (or at least, to your potential customers). 
Being quick and agile can give you an edge against those competitors.

43. Tell your story
The attention span of today’s shoppers and searchers is reckoned to be less than 10 seconds, keep those visitors interested in what you have to offer and they’re more likely to take an action or return to your site.

44. Get under the skin of your prospects
The key to success is to identify the pain points of your prospect and build your marketing message around them. What is it that keeps them awake at night? Why would they buy what you have to offer? What can you do to help them?

45. Understand the buying process
Only 5% of first time visitors to your site are in buying mode so make it as easy as possible for those people to do business with you, don’t ask for too much information on your online forms and have your contact details on every page of your website.

46. Map your customer’s journey
Today, it’s not all about selling, it’s about raising awareness of your solutions and answering all of the questions your prospects may have as they move through the key stages of the buyers journey

47. Identify the right content and the right format
Content can be produced in many formats. The type of content and the topics that your audience are interested in should be identified in the planning stage. Your web analytics data will help you conclude what’s right.

48. Create content to drive actions
Your content should tell a story that inspires potential customers to keep engaging with your business until they are ready to buy from you so you need to consider content for each stage of the buying cycle from visitors who are in research mode, looking to be educated to those actively engaged with you and seeking validation through case studies or testimonials.

49. Actively pursue inbound links
Inbound links are links back to your website from other websites. They act as an endorsement of the quality of your site and can help your site rank better in the search results pages (SERPS). Creating great content on a regular basis provides a great reason for people to link back to your site but whatever you do, don’t buy links. That’s the route to pain and misery as it’s against Google’s guidelines.

50. Build audience personas
Write content for your prospective buyer, how do you do this? Well put yourself in their shoes and list all of the issues you think they may have. Give them a “persona” and build a profile, a representation of a target customer.

You can link to Part 2 of this article to view the next 51 marketing tips HERE

As you can appreciate we’re scratching the surface of what can be done and you may be wondering if it’s all worthwhile? Here’s a link to a client case study that hopefully demonstrates the power of the internet and inbound marketing.

If you’d like to download a more comprehensive version of all 101 marketing tips in pdf format, you can do so HERE

If you’d like help to create or improve your own lead generation engine, then get in touch today and find out more about how I can help you grow your business. Call 01803 413481 or email [email protected]