Sometimes it’s ok to just post on social media. Other times, you might want to send an email to reach people. But if you really want to create an impact for your business, you need a coordinated effort on multiple fronts.
A multichannel marketing campaign uses different marketing channels—like social media, email, landing pages, and yes, direct mail—to reach potential customers. To build an effective campaign, there are several key components you need to consider.
What is it that you want to achieve with this campaign? Never go into a campaign without a clear, specific goal in mind! If possible, choose only one main goal. If you are trying to achieve too much with a single campaign, it can be increasingly difficult succeed.
Your goals will define some of the other aspects of your campaign. If you want to generate new leads, you’ll have a different set of priorities than if you’re trying to increase brand awareness. Campaigns can also aim to boost sales, introduce new products or services to existing customers, or encourage customer engagement.
We’ve discussed target audience before—this is your ideal customer. You want to market to a group who share similar characteristics, interests, behaviors, and pain points. Depending on your campaign goals, you might want to segment your list into smaller groups so that you can speak to them even more specifically.
For most companies, you will either build your own prospect list or obtain a list from a data broker. To build your own list, you can collect information from cart abandonments, social media, trade shows or other events, and of course, from previous customers. One issue with building your own list is collecting accurate data that includes email and mailing addresses. If you choose to rent or purchase a list, you’ll incur extra costs but receive a vetted list with accurate information.
First, you should analyze the channels you have available to use. If you have a website, you should have the ability to build landing pages to capture leads. If your website has a blog, you can use content marketing to weave campaign-related information into your posts. Most businesses have some existing social media channels, but maybe this campaign is the chance to start on a new platform to further your reach.
Outside of your own resources, paid advertising is available on most digital channels. You can buy ad space on other websites, social media, email newsletters, etc. as well as streaming services. Depending on your budget and goals, you could also consider buying space in physical locations like magazines, billboards, and newspapers. Event sponsorship is yet another avenue to get the word out about your campaign. And of course, we all have the U.S. Postal Service as a resource to send direct mail.
Speaking of money, your budget is the other main constraint on your campaign possibilities. If you only have $200 to spend, you’re not going to include advertising on subway trains in your campaign. Fortunately, the digital age has facilitated a wide variety of free marketing channels for small businesses.
Don’t be afraid to spend money to achieve your goals, though. So many businesses are reluctant to pay for direct mail, for example. But you always need to consider the return on your investment! For $900, I can print and mail 600 oversized postcards. Direct mail has an average response rate of 9%, which would be 54 people in this example. If I get interest from 54 people, depending on my offer and price point, I can easily make back my $900 and then some! Once you consider the lifetime value of a customer, direct mail can have a major payout in terms of ROI.
Messaging and Content
Your message, which should be aligned with your campaign goals, absolutely must be consistent throughout the campaign. This doesn’t mean you have to use exactly the same words, but the tone, aesthetic, and impact of each touchpoint should remain consistent. All content that is created, whether graphics or copy, should be engaging and aim to resonate with your audience.
When it comes to content, use the differences between channels to your advantage! What works on Instagram (vibrant photos with helpful captions) isn’t going to work on your blog. As long as you’re keeping the message consistent, you can try new things on new channels.
Call to Action
What exactly do you want your audience to do next? We’re humans, which means that most of us dislike having to make decisions. At each touchpoint, you need to provide obvious next steps.
You can direct people to your website or landing with a link or a QR code. You can invite them to follow you on social media and post with a specific hashtag. You can tell them to spend all their money on your latest product line. Whatever you do, make sure they know what they are “supposed” to do next.
You need to develop a timeline that contains specific dates (and when applicable, times) for each touchpoint of your campaign. You should also build a content calendar that outlines content creation, publishing, and promotion.
It’s also helpful to include details in your timeline around aspects you can’t control. For example, if you have a direct mail piece mailing on a specific date, estimate how long it will take for the piece to land in mailboxes. You can then plan your follow-up email to reach your audience after they’ve seen the direct mail piece.
Your campaign is almost pointless if you can’t measure its success. I say almost because if you made money, then yay! But did you achieve your goal or just break even? Your campaign needs to be tracked so that you know what you do or don’t want to repeat in the future. If your campaign is long enough, you can also course correct in the middle if it is really tanking. If you need to make changes, you can adjust the audience segments, the content, the channels you’re using, or the message (your offer, your call to action, etc.).
My suggestion is to measure as much as relates to your campaign goals. If your goal is brand awareness, measure how many followers you’ve gained and how many views your website gets. If your goal is to increase sales, that’s an easy one to track. So is tracking new leads. But don’t forget to also track some of the behind-the-scenes analytics too.
For example, you’d still want to see how many hits your landing page got if you’re trying to obtain new leads. What if you have 750 hits to your landing page, but only 7 new leads? A 0.9% conversion rate doesn’t sound right to me, so I’d wonder if you need to make your offer more enticing. There’s interest from your audience, but something is holding them back from giving you their information. Next time, go even further and offer them something they feel is worth giving out their email address!
Putting It All Together
As you can see, there are a lot of moving parts when you’re planning a campaign. Not to mention the time, skill, and resources it takes to launch and monitor a successful campaign. If you need help with any or all of these parts, get in touch! I’m always happy to help, even if you just have a question about something. 🙂
Looking to develop your content strategy? You’re not alone. According to the Content Marketing Institute, only 40% of B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy. Around a third have a loose, undocumented strategy, and 27% have no strategy at all. Why does this matter?
Since the pandemic, content usage has increased by 207%. People are searching online every minute to find the answers to questions that your business can answer! Providing quality content to assist them is a key tactic to drive business. But you have to be intentional about what content you create, where you post it, and how you create it.
To help develop your content strategy, answer these 14 questions:
Identifying Your Target Audience
- Who is my ideal client? Hopefully you have a current client who is just a dream to work with. But if you don’t, imagine what they would be like. Picture the field they work in and what their daily responsibilities include. Do some sleuthing online to see what these people likely care about when it comes to their work. (Or if you’re a B2C business, figure out the circumstances that would lead to them buying your product or service for their personal use.) You need to know as much as you can about your ideal client so that you know you are speaking their language.
- Which of their pain points can I speak to? I separated this out from the above because it’s critical to understand how your business can solve your clients’ problems. A pain point is a problem that they are currently having, without an obvious solution. (Or maybe it is obvious and they just haven’t done it?) Once you know who you’re talking to and what problems you’re solving for them, you’ve got a path to start creating content.
- How do I want my audience to view me? This should be an easy question to answer if you have been faithful to The 10 Commandments of Branding. If you have an established brand mission, vision, values, and voice, then you know how you want to be viewed. If you don’t… time to do some homework!
Planning and Creating Content
- Why do I want to post about this? When you start creating content, this is a crucial question to ask yourself. Is this content really helpful, or do you just like talking about it? I mean, I’m a huge fan of pop punk music, but that doesn’t relate to marketing (or does it?) so I won’t be blogging about it. Make sure your content falls into one of these categories:
- Educate—teaches your audience something new
- Inspire—encourages your audience
- Entertain—evokes emotion in your audience
- Does this help position me as an expert? Continuing the above example, my love of My Chemical Romance isn’t going to paint me as an expert in marketing. Evaluate your content ideas and be sure that they relate to your business offerings. Showcase your expertise in your field, which you’ve gained over years of education and experience.
- What pain point is this solving for my idea client? Not every piece of content have to solve one of your clients’ problems. But 80% of your content should fall in the “educate” category, so most of it should relate to something specific that they are struggling with. Consider those pain points you established above and think of content you can provide that eases the pain. A good tip I like to remember is to tell people WHAT they should do, but not always HOW they should do it. You should be providing value and helpful answers, but if you give away all your secrets they won’t need your business!
- How can my content usher my audience through the sales funnel? You should create a wide variety of content that helps people at all the various stages of your sales funnel, including those who are already clients. Here’s a quirky little secret: instead of a funnel, I like to picture an onion. The outer layer is a little flaky, like the people who are just skimming to see what’s out there. They don’t really know what they’re doing, so you need to tell them what’s up. The next layer is a little bit thicker, for people who know what’s going on but aren’t ready to buy. They might have specific questions but aren’t in a position to engage with you directly. Even thicker is the next layer, for the people who know exactly what they need and are trying to identify the best option. This group needs proof of your expertise and signals that you are the right choice (case studies, testimonials, etc.). The thickest, innermost layer is for your current clients. Even though they are already buying from you, they can still learn new things and be inspired and entertained by your content.
- What’s the best format for this content? If I tried to make this blog post as an Instagram reel instead, it would never work. There’s way too much detail. Conversely, if I tried to make a blog post out of an inspirational quote (which I typically post on Insta), it would be ridiculous. Take some time to flesh out your idea a bit and visualize what format fits best.
Choosing Publishing Platforms
- Where does my audience spend their time online? Back to your ideal client—where do they hang out? Are they reading about the best fishing spots in North America? Are they watching makeup tutorials on YouTube? Are they scrolling through TikTok at 1am? The more you can find out about your audience’s habits and preferences, the better you can serve up your content in the way and location they want. (Not to mention that if they are searching for you, their go-to sources will be able to find you too.)
- What platforms am I comfortable learning and using? It doesn’t matter if your audience spends all their time on TikTok if you’re not comfortable using it! (Can TikTok even be used for a business? Short answer: YES!) If you’re not already on the platforms that your audience prefers, check them out and see if you can understand them and get behind using them. If not, don’t include them in your strategy. (Or outsource… more on that below.) It’s also not important to be on every social media channel plus a blog plus a podcast… If you spread yourself too thin, it’s pointless anyway. Find out where your audience is, evaluate your comfort in using that format, and choose where you’re going to be.
Establishing Your Process
- Where can I look for inspiration? Before you can create valuable content, you have to consume valuable content. This doesn’t mean you should look at your competitors’ blogs and rip them off. Great ideas can come from anywhere, especially other industries and entertainment sources. For example, if you’re a wedding photographer, research fine art sources for inspiration. Or look within your industry at other vendors. Maybe a wedding cakery will inspire your next great Instagram post.
- How much effort am I willing to put into my content strategy? Not gonna lie, this all takes a lot of time. If you’re new to creating graphics or writing blogs, there’s also a learning curve you’ll have to experience. How much time are you willing to invest in developing your content strategy and the tactical execution of your plan? Be realistic, because the best laid plans mean nothing if you can’t get the content published.
- What tools can I afford to use? There’s a wide range of tools available for creating graphics, scheduling social media, posting blogs, even drafting content. Some are free, while others cost big bucks. How much can you invest in these tools to bring your strategy to life? Or can you outsource as a “tool” instead?
- Should I consider outsourcing to a pro? According to the Content Marketing Institute, half of all marketers outsource at least some of their content creation. If this list is overwhelming to you and you don’t know where to begin, consider finding a marketer to partner with. Even if you can answer some of these questions but don’t have the time or resources to activate your strategy, reach out. You may find that it’s more cost effective (whether in terms of money or time) to outsource.
In recent years, video has become the most compelling media format for most audiences. Specifically, short videos have the capability to engage before the audience loses interest. In fact, according to Woosuite, the short-form video has the highest ROI of any social media marketing strategy at 30%.
When working with clients, I use a 7-step video ad production process to develop the best video for their advertisements. Paired with the strategy to have that video reach the appropriate audience, these videos accomplish great things! Some of these steps have “sub-steps” to them, but the seven below are the main buckets of the process.
Step 1: Hold the Discovery Meeting
Gathering all necessary information at the outset is critical to a successful campaign. If this is a new client, I collect all branding information about the client. I need to understand their mission and values to understand the underlying goals of their marketing. I request access to their logos as well as previous collateral to be able to match their voice (unless we’re pivoting with this campaign).
One of the most important areas is understanding the client’s target audience. Three things we need to know about the target audience: their pain points, what platforms they use, and what content resonates with them. These answers will guide specific messaging as well as dictate which ad platforms we deploy the video on.
Of course, it’s always helpful to determine the client’s ad budget in advance so that we’re prepared later on when it’s time to deploy. This is the amount they are willing to devote to the ad appearing on each platform.
Step 2: Plan the Video
Planning is a seemingly easy task. You just write a script and film it, right? The reality is that there are many moving parts that must come together before you write a single word.
Identifying a speaker (or speakers) will guide the tone of the video. Will it be two people playing off each other’s words? Will it be a single person speaking directly into the camera? Then there is the location to consider. What type of setting is appropriate for your video? Will you need B-roll footage? Or on-screen graphics to overlay onto the video?
Writing the script is often the last piece in the puzzle once all these other questions are answered. But even this task isn’t as simple as it seems. You must write in the brand’s voice but also make it natural for whoever will be delivering the lines. It’s a balance, and takes skill (and usually several drafts) to get it right.
Step 3: Film the Video
Whether you’re filming on a iPhone (don’t laugh, they have great capabilities!) or on a more professional camera, you’ll likely need some extra equipment to achieve the best results. First, test your setup and see whether you need a tripod (yes), auxiliary mics (probably), or other accessories. Plan to use a teleprompter app or cue cards so that the speakers aren’t focused on remembering a long script.
When you’re ready to start shooting, be aware of the lighting and make sure your subject is lit well with no competing light sources. Shoot as many takes as necessary to get your speaker comfortable with the process. While filming, keep in mind where you might have breaks, voiceovers, and B-roll. You can splice different takes together when editing, but only if the splices are at appropriate times.
Be sure to play back your captures onsite so that you can evaluate whether more takes are necessary. Check the video footage, listen to the audio and see if there is unwanted ambient noise, etc. “We’ll fix it in post” is a foolish assumption! It’s much harder to alter the video and audio after the fact than it is to get it right in the moment.
Step 4: Edit the Video and Graphics
I’m a big fan of using Adobe Premiere Pro for video editing, but there are so many professional settings that it can be overwhelming if you’re not used to it. A simpler program, like Adobe Rush, might be easier if you’re just starting out. You won’t have as many options for creating transitions and placing graphics, but there are basic options and captions available.
Whatever editing program you decide to use, hopefully you won’t have to touch up too many areas within the video or audio feeds. At this point, you’ll cut your scenes, insert B-roll and voiceovers, and add any graphics you’ve planned. Make sure you save your working file so that you can edit minor details after all stakeholders have seen the draft!
Step 5: Set Up the Ad(s)
Each platform you use will have different settings for your ad setup. LinkedIn requires different information than Facebook, and both differ from website-specific specifications. However, there are commonalities that you can plan for in advance. Most likely you’ll need a headline, body copy, your video, and a call to action.
Usually you can set either a daily budget or a lifetime budget for the duration of the ad. I like to set a lifetime budget because there is more flexibility in how the ad is shown to users.
You’ll also be able to set up audience parameters in most platforms so that your ad will be seen by the right people! This is a fuzzy area, because often the budget will dictate how many people you target instead of the other way around. Fortunately, most platforms will provide a forecast based on the number of people in your audience and the amount of money you’re spending. Play with your parameters, including geographic location, to find the sweet spot based on your desired results. (For example, if you’re hoping for 50 clicks to your landing page each day, play with the parameters until the forecast is in that range.)
Step 6: Deploy the Ad(s)
Hit publish, submit, whatever! This is the easiest—but possibly most terrifying—step.
Step 7: Track the Ad(s)
Without tracking the performance of your ads, you won’t know how well they are doing and if they were worth it in the first place. Every platform provides analytics to show how many times the ad was seen (impressions), how many individual people saw your ad, how much you spent per day, etc. Some platforms even tell you how much of the video was seen. This is powerful feedback that directly relates to your video content!
I recommend using a landing page to direct people to with your call to action. The landing page might be additional information to expand on your video, or it could be a purchase page if your call to action was directly asking them to buy. It could also be a form that they fill out to receive some free content. Whatever the goal of your ad is, the landing page is where it should happen.
The beauty of the landing page is that you can track exactly how many people went through with the process. This is opposed to the metrics given by the ad platform, which can only tell you that they clicked through to the landing page. If you had 427 people click through but only received 19 forms, I’d conclude that your ad worked wonderfully but your landing page or the offer itself is lacking.
I hope you find this 7-step process helpful! I’d love to hear feedback on your own process and whether this helped!
If you follow any sort of marketing news at all, you’ve at least heard about omnichannel marketing. This gold standard of marketing is often touted as a must-do strategy for any business that wants to crush its goals. The problem is, the omnichannel approach is simply out of reach for millions—maybe even the majority—of businesses in the United States.
What is Omnichannel Marketing?
You can Google the term “omnichannel marketing” and receive tons of dry definitions, but that’s not why you’re here! To be frank: omnichannel marketing is when a company is all up in your business. You get a text message about a sale from Banana Republic while you’re in their store. You receive an abandoned cart email an hour after you decided not to buy those shoes. And those damn Amazon ads follow you EVERYWHERE online.
With so many devices connected to us these days, companies can identify and target us in many ways. If it all feels a bit big brother, that’s because it is! Add in the power and trackability of the internet, and you’ve got a massive amount of data that tells the story of you.
From your hobbies to your brand preferences and everything in between, it’s recorded into databases. This data creates a profile of who you are and, subsequently, how to sell you stuff. Grocery stores have been doing this for years through their “value cards.” They track everything we buy under the guise of offering discounts and then sell us out to manufacturers. Offering us coupons to buy the manufacturers’ competitors’ products is not a coincidence.
Why Omnichannel Marketing Won’t Work for Small Businesses
Let’s face it—omnichannel marketing is not a viable option for small businesses. True omnichannel marketing relies on data, and the analysis of large amounts of data requires the use of AI. Most small businesses can’t afford to invest in the platforms using this kind of AI technology. Not to mention, you have to pay to access the databases that are collecting the information in the first place. Big data is not the playground of even the largest family-owned business or non-tech startup.
Even if you had the money to invest in this kind of AI, would it make sense to? Even if you have a brick-and-mortar storefront or shop, how much foot traffic do you get on the average day? A massive chain store can use the power of AI to target thousands of people across the nation anytime they come in. But if you’re a single store or even a local chain, you just won’t have the numbers to make that investment pay off.
So what’s a small business owner to do?
Use Multichannel Marketing To Its Fullest
Now being villified by marketing snobs, multichannel marketing was the previous gold standard. This strategy delivers the company’s message on multiple channels—like social media, email marketing, direct mail, etc.—to reach as many people as possible. Being present on many channels makes sense, as not every person is present on every channel. The problem comes when people are lazy with their messaging (or just time-strapped).
Multichannel marketing campaigns aren’t inherently bad. Reaching your customers—consistently—where they are is always a good thing. You just have to build a strategy on how to best deliver your message to your audience using the channels and tools available to you. Strengthening and being strategic with your multichannel marketing can create impressive results.
In the past, multichannel marketing was a lengthy, manual process. Because of the time it took, companies often distributed the same content on every channel. The lack of true strategy around what message is delivered on which platform equated to a “spray and pray” method. There was no consideration for the content an Instagram user is most likely to view and engage with versus the content that works best via email.
Now, there are social scheduling tools that not only help you plan content in advance, but help you tailor your posts on each platform. On Hootsuite, for example, you can include hashtags on Instagram posts but remove them from LinkedIn. Email marketing tools have also come a long way, with some even offering workflow builders to automate sequences and follow up.
Using an all-in-one tool like Hubspot can be expensive, but it’s usually still WAY cheaper than trying to use an omnichannel AI platform. With Hubspot and others like it, you can trigger emails from website actions, build automated workflows, and use your database to its fullest. (I’m not a Hubspot rep—it’s just the product I have the most experience with!)
Side note: A marketing audit can help tailor your multichannel strategy and point you in the right direction. For example, if you’re posting consistently on Instagram but your target audience isn’t there, you’re wasting time and resources! You can either try to audit on your own or work with a professional who specializes in audits and strategy.
Fake Omnichannel Marketing With a Little Manual Labor
You also should think outside the box and develop ways to use the data you keep on your customers and prospects. If you’re an oil change service, pull a list of everyone who came in 3-4 months ago. Then send them a personalized email with a $20 coupon. If you’re a wedding photographer, send a text message to all clients within the past year and offer them a referral bonus.
The trick is to really look at the data you have access to and brainstorm ways to use it to your advantage. (P.S. Please don’t ever sell this data to outside companies. That’s a sure way to tank your reputation.)
If you’re one of the millions of small business owners in the U.S. and you want the best marketing you can get, I have one thing for you to remember. One man’s treasure is another man’s trash! Meaning: the gold standard for the Fortune 500 isn’t going to do you any good. Build your strategy, focus on your own business goals, and you’ll be on the right track!
How do you promote your small business? Some of the items on this list might seem like no-brainers, while others may be truly enlightening. Even if you already know about these activities, this list is a good reminder of all the ways to drive marketing for small businesses. It’s broken out by category for easier perusing. Enjoy!
1. Establish a web presence with clear, concise copy. Speak to your target audience and talk about the problems you solve for them.
2. Publish SEO optimized content consistently. For most businesses, this would be in the form of blog posts.
3. Show social proof of the solutions you offer. Publishing testimonials (with permission!) is a great way to do so.
4. Develop a content repurposing strategy. Break your long form content into digestible chunks for social posts in various formats.
5. Post consistently. Create a content calendar and use scheduling tools so that you can create content in batches when you have time.
6. Engage, tag, comment, and respond! Social media is just that—social—so you should be engaging with your network.
7. Use video (like Reels) and live feeds to humanize your brand. People like people, so show the faces behind your company’s name.
8. Join groups on Facebook and LinkedIn, then be active. Post your own content, ask questions, and comment on others’ posts.
9. The first step is to actually collect email addresses! Set up ways to obtain this information—new customer forms, surveys, digital giveaways (aka lead magnets), etc.
10. Deploy an email newsletter with helpful content. This should be information of value to your target audience, so minimal selling!
11. Print (yes print!) business cards. Include a QR code on them to drive traffic to your website for more information.
12. Create direct mail campaigns to take grab people’s attention. You’ll catch their eye a lot easier in their mailbox than in their inbox, where there is a LOT more competition.
12. Set up a Google My Business page. Millions of people are searching for your services, so make sure you can be easily found!
13. Be active in your community. Attend local networking events and join the Chamber of Commerce in your area.
14. Support local organizations that align with your brand values and sponsor their events.
15. Create a referral program so that your customers can market for you.
16. Submit guest posts to blogs that your audience reads. Look to partner with other businesses that share your target audience.
17. Appear on a podcast. Again, focus on interviews that your target audience will hear.
18. Provide expert, white glove service to each customer. Solve any problems quickly and express your gratitude for their support. A happy customer is the best salesperson!