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Why Small Businesses Can Forget About Omnichannel Marketing

Why Small Businesses Can Forget About Omnichannel Marketing

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!

Using TikTok for Business: A Young, Cool Guy Schools Me

Using TikTok for Business: A Young, Cool Guy Schools Me

Age is nothing but a number. It only matters how young you feel. The platitudes go on, but as people get older, it’s generally accepted that they lose touch with what’s cool to younger generations.

Technically, I’m a millennial. Being born at the cusp, however, means I’m in a super special subset referred to as “elder millennials” or even “geriatric millennials” (thanks, internet). As such, I am slowly losing sight of what’s cool—including social media trends—despite trying to stay informed.

TikTok is one of those things that I’ve known about for years but never got into. To me, it is all silly dances and young people being young. What relevance could it possibly have to the business world?

I recently spoke to a friend on the other end of the millennial range to help me understand. Patrick Maercklein, a marketing specialist at Employment Enterprises, is young and cool. His explanation of Tiktok and its potential for business use was enlightening, and now I’m passing those tips on to other geriatrics like me!

What Even is TikTok?

With 689 million active users worldwide, it would shock me if you’ve never heard TikTok mentioned. If you watch Instagram reels, you’ve likely even seen repurposed content from TikTok. While I’ve been out of the loop, I’ve at least been near it.

TikTok was created in China in 2016 and was originally called Douyin. The company then acquired a lip-sync app called in 2017 and started gaining traction in the United States. TikTok took off in popularity due to trendy dances that users copied and shared. Over time, and with rapid adoption, content has evolved to—as Patrick says—”anything and everything.” (If you want to go down a rabbit hole, there’s a longer history by Big 3 Media that covers the app in depth.)

“In simple terms it’s a video platform that is the inverse of Instagram.” Patrick explains. “Instead of your feed being filled with people you follow, TikTok is the opposite. Your go-to feed is other people’s videos and then the algorithm mixes in content from people you’re following.”

I already have Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram accounts that I interact with every day. So I asked Patrick, why should I get TikTok? “Because it’s less of a social media platform with your connections and more entertainment,” he replies. In essence, it’s tailored to you but it’s not curated content by your friends.

How Do You Create a TikTok Video?

To create a TikTok, you can either upload video from your camera roll (on a smartphone) or shoot video within the app. “TikTok has a very basic video editor with lots of available effects as well as a library of sounds (music, sound clips, etc.), says Patrick. The app tells you what sounds are trending so you can capitalize on the music of the moment. You can also save sounds for later when you’re viewing a video and like what you hear. (Pro Tip: Using the right sounds has a lot to do with how well your posts perform. If you’re using a trending sound, the algorithm is more likely to put your video in front of people.)

What Type of Content Is a Good Fit for TikTok?

Patrick emphasizes the ability of TikTok to show the personality of the brand. “Behind the scenes videos perform really well because they show the faces behind the brand,” he says. In short, TikTok is a platform that is grounded in reality. There’s no need for perfect lighting and color schemes.

He also shares that TikTok is super engaging and has a wide variety of engagement tools built in. “Typical Google searches are saturated and people are recycling the same types of content. On TikTok, you can respond to a comment with a new video and engage directly with the audience.”

How Does Content Get Shared?

Patrick says, “The TikTok algorithm is unreal because it knows exactly what types of content you want. I’d argue that hashtags on TikTok are more valuable than hashtags anywhere else.” The platform shows you content not only just from hashtags you follow, but also from trending hashtags. This way, users can go viral by jumping on a hashtag bandwagon of sorts.

“Because of the way TikTok is formatted and a random person is thrown on your discover page, it is so, so easy to to blow up. You can grow TikTok faster than any other platform,” Patrick explains. He believes that this ability to go viral is a big reason why businesses are tapping into it. “At my internship, I had a video that had 500,000 views! It was as simple a topic as “top 5 highest paying jobs.”

You can’t share someone else’s content to your feed the way you can on Facebook. You can, however, send videos to a group chat with friends or email or text a video to others through your address book.

What Is Your Ultimate Advice for Businesses Looking to Use TikTok?

“My main recommendation for businesses is that you have to be sure your target audience is active on the platform.” Patrick notes that the TikTok audience is nationwide and you can’t target local audiences specifically. “I also think you have to have the right audience demographics. It’s very much geared toward younger generations so be sure that’s the audience you want before you invest time in developing the channel for your business.”

Patrick also has doubts about sponsoring content on the platform. “You can pay to sponsor content on TikTok, but I don’t know if it’s worth it. Leveraging hashtags and popular sounds gives you the opportunity to reach your audience without paying. I grew my employer’s TikTok to over 1,000 followers within a few months.” He also says that posting consistently and trying new things are the keys to getting people to catch on and follow your brand. “It takes a lot more work than you would think.”

What do you all think? Was this as helpful to you as it was for me? Thanks so much, Patrick!

The Ultimate Best Time to Post on Your Social Media Accounts

The Ultimate Best Time to Post on Your Social Media Accounts

My social feeds—especially LinkedIn—are constantly filled with updates on the best time to post content to social media. As I read all these updates, I find myself wondering if they are truly applicable to today’s users.

My belief is that the ultimate best time to post on your social media accounts is NOW. Why?

Don’t build your entire strategy on too many (or too few) users.

Most of the information on the best times to post to social media are reporting on data from the platforms users as a whole. This data set is so large that it draws generalities and paints a picture that is unreliable. It’s like saying “the best time to buy milk is before a storm.” Just because lots of people do it doesn’t mean it’s the right time for you.

A common best practice is to monitor your social analytics on each platform. Being able to see when your audience is most engaged with your content can lead to valuable insights. This is a great PART of your strategy, but shouldn’t be the final answer. If you want to engage new followers, who’s to say that they are on at the same times as your current followers?

Algorithms are changing constantly.

The number of updates to the LinkedIn algorithms is directly proportionate to the number of posts on how to beat them. With every change that comes out, experts are putting out new guidelines on how best to be seen. In practical use, however, you’ll drive yourself crazy trying to maintain all these tips and tricks. I interact on my LinkedIn account daily, and even with so many factors for what is shown in my feed I still end up viewing the same content more than once.

The best tip for being seen is to foster engagement. Every time someone reacts to a post or comments on it, others will be seeing it also. Find ways to delight and entertain your audience with your posts and you’ll reach a wider audience organically.

If you wait for the perfect time, you’ll miss your audience completely.

It can be tempting to craft a strategy that plans on reaching people at the “perfect” time. The problem with this is that while you’re spending so much time on your strategy, you’re missing opportunities to reach your audience! It’s inefficient and doesn’t allow for flexibility.

But what about scheduling your social posts, you say? This is a beneficial way to save time, so if you’re scheduling posts in advance, by all means follow your platform metrics as a guide. But if breaking news hits, you’re better off posting it right away than waiting for a magic window.

What do you think? Am I way off base? I’d love to hear feedback on these thoughts.

How to Get Started With a Content Strategy

How to Get Started With a Content Strategy

We hear all about content creation these days and how important it is to provide value to your customers. But how can you get started if you don’t currently have a strategy around content?

  1. Just get started. I’m facing this myself right now. I have so many ideas for blog posts but I know the importance of having a strategy. But remembering Mark Twain’s advice, it’s best to just get started. If you have ideas, record them right away! Then flesh them out when you can. You want to get moving on your content strategy, but it won’t hurt to post while you’re developing it. You can categorize your posts as you build your strategy.
  2. Talk to your customers. The whole point of creating content is to provide your customers with beneficial information. What do they need to know? What are their pain points and how should they address those issues? What kind of solutions can they put into practice immediately? You want to position your business as a resource for learning more. Be the source of the answers they seek.
  3. Identify your content pillars. These are the large “buckets” that your content will fall into. You can always add more, but start somewhere. List the categories your posts will fall into. For example, my pillars include content creation (how meta), branding, and social media management, to name a few.
  4. Build out your web. Ideally, you’ll have overarching pillar posts that are connected to other, more specialized posts. For example, I plan to have a branding pillar post with general information all about how to brand your company or yourself. Then I’ll link within that post to all the more specific posts I create, like Using Color for Your Personal Brand. You can think of it as a web of connected content, with the more interlinking the better. The interlinking is key; it will identify your site as an expert in your pillar topics in Google’s algorithm. Creating a plan for building out your web will give you direction for the content you need to create.
  5. Don’t forget to repurpose content! If your leadership writes a blog post, share it! Link to it! This is helping to promote your brand and you can use this as “free” content in your strategy.
  6. Share on ALL your social accounts. Your content strategy should include sharing on all of your social media platforms. It can sometimes feel like overkill from a marketer’s standpoint because we are looking at every platform. But remember, you have different followers on different platforms and if you only post in some places, you’ll be missing out on visibility from other sources.
  7. Go with the flow. Remember that this is a fluid process and you’ll should be making constant adjustments to your content strategy. Always be on the lookout for new ideas that will help your customers achieve their goals.

Marketing Yourself Is HARD.

Marketing Yourself Is HARD.

Would it surprise you to know that marketers often have a hard time marketing themselves? It’s a conundrum, for sure. You’re great at what you do for others—so why can’t you just do it for yourself?

I think the problem comes (at least for me) when overthinking takes over. If I’m writing for another company, I have a clear narrative, scope, and voice to adhere to. When I’m planning my own communications, there are so. many. decisions to be made: What is my brand’s voice? How do I stay true to myself while remaining professional? What the hell am I supposed to take pictures of for Instagram? What if no one likes what I’m doing? Should I do it anyway? There are so many questions, doubts, and concerns that it all becomes muddled and overwhelming.

So, I’ve decided to just be me… with a slight filter. I’m going to put information out and if you don’t like it, you probably wouldn’t like me. (Or maybe give me a chance and tell me why I’m wrong?)

I’m working harder on marketing Silverbrook and expanding my network, so let me know if you’d like to chat. People say I’m pretty cool and I’ve got a reputation for being good at what I do.