Marketing Your Small Business in 2017

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When it comes to marketing, we like to think about what’s new and how to keep pace with technology, trends, cultural shifts, etc. It’s important to pay attention to what your ideal customers are saying and where they’re saying it, but keep in mind that this is going to be unique to your ideal customers. As we round the corner into 2017, we need to consider our marketing strategy and what changes will demand an update to that strategy. Here are four vital things to consider as we head into the future.

Start With Strategy

The marketing game is, in some respects, out of control. Busy business owners are rushing to adopt new technologies, share on social media and continue to charge into new things without taking the time to sit back and really consider their strategy. The irony is that without taking the time to think this through, you only set yourself up to fail and the world rushes past you despite your attempts to keep up.

As 2017 dawns, pause. Who are you currently working with? Are these your ideal clients? If not, define who you would rather be working with and what result you are most passionate about delivering to these dream clients. If you have to conduct surveys to learn more about your ideal clients, do it. Find out—definitively—where they spend their time. Are these ideal clients even on social media? Every time Facebook updates its number of users, we hear about it and think, “Wow, 1.79 billion people. I need to focus on Facebook.” Maybe. First find out if your ideal customer actually spends time on Facebook. It is entirely possible they have an account they never check or are one of the 5.5 billion not on the social network. Or their taste for social media is more geared toward Twitter or Instagram.

These are just some of the questions you should be asking yourself as you craft a strategy. Do the research, make a plan and work your plan. No amount of trendy marketing tactics will grow your business like a well thought out strategy.

Pay Attention to Mobile

It’s no surprise that mobile searches surpassed desktop searches this year. In fact, users entered more than 100 billion searches each month on devices with screens smaller than six inches.

In response, Google is prioritizing mobile when it comes to search rankings. This means when someone enters a query, Google will favor websites that give mobile users a good experience. As a small business owner, this means your website needs to be optimized for mobile if you want someone to find you—even if your clients aren’t in the habit searching from their phone. With Google working on prioritizing mobile results, even desktop searches will default to mobile-friendly websites.

This whole move is still in beta, so there's time to prepare. If your site has a mobile version (m.yourdomain.com) or is responsive (meaning the display automatically adjusts based on device), you’re already prepared. If not, it’s time to start implementing.

Play Nice With Google

Have you noticed when you ask Google a question, your search results often start with a box containing the answer? For example, when I ask Google to convert 50 kg to pounds, this is what I see:

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This is the featured snippet, a quick answer to a quick question and a leap forward in user experience. That box up there gets a much higher click rate than the links listed below it. As we roll into 2017, consider formatting your blogs to take advantage of this feature. Hubspot lays out how the technology works in this blog post, which ends with a succinct list of tips for increasing your chances of being featured in that powerful box.

Speaking of Google, the amount of space on your screen taken up by paid search results is larger than ever. In fact, your user may have to scroll down in order to see any organic results. Keep shooting for organic, but keep in mind that this can work in tandem with paid search for a stronger result.

Leverage Technology

If you’re not utilizing marketing software, take a good look at your goals for 2017 and do some research into automation software. This kind of technology promises a lot. It can save time, track critical metrics to inform further strategy and help create synergy among your teams. But the real magic is the way it allows you to scale your marketing efforts. And if the thought of integrating new technology sounds like a disaster waiting to happen, make one of your priorities ease of use. Demand an easy transition with killer customer support and you might just be surprised how many automation companies have been working hard to provide just that.

The kind of software that will work for you ultimately depends on your business, your goals and your target audience. Again, take the time to research and decide which software, if any, is right for you, because at the end of the day, marketing comes down to building and maintaining your relationships. Keep that in the very front of your mind as we jump into 2017.

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Published: 12/19/2016

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