4 tips to turn customers into advocates

4 tips to turn customers into advocates

Part 3 of the “Business Relationships Series”: Why entrepreneurs should focus on ways to turn customers into advocates.

4 tips to turn customers into advocates

It’s no longer enough to connect with a prospect just at the time they’re ready to make a purchase. Modern customers are now trained to do their research before making a purchase. And technology has made it easy for them to discover your happy customers (or not), and those customer reviews will play a large role in persuading prospects to buy from you.  

One recent survey found that 90% of consumers said that positive reviews influenced their buying decision. Another survey discovered that 86% of customers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience while, conversely, 32% of customers will turn their back on a company they love, after just one bad experience.

Turning customers into advocates

After turning a prospect into a customer, and creating a good business relationship, the next step is to strengthen that relationship and turn your customers into advocates of your brand.

Brand advocates are passionate champions of their favourite organizations—and will tell others about their amazing experience with your company. In fact, according to a recent study, advocates are two to three times more effective at attracting new customers to your brand.

Ready to build an army of brand advocates? These strategies will help you and your clients get even more out of your relationship:

1. Never take customers for granted

Ensure that your product or service never slips from the excellent levels your customers have come to expect—and be diligent in maintaining an outstanding customer experience. Maintain consistent communication, spend time with your customers and learn as much about them as possible.

This might be over the long-term or even just in a quick phone call. Use that knowledge to be selflessly helpful by providing ongoing, valuable advice and ensuring that your relationship is mutually beneficial.

2. Under-promise and over-deliver

Always strive to deliver exactly what was promised, on time, and then some. You can also provide added value to your customers in ways that have little monetary cost to you but considerable value to them.

For example, do a quick follow-up to continue nurturing the customer relationship after they make their purchase. Something as simple as a check-in email to see how they’re enjoying your product or providing them with a helpful piece of content after their purchase can go a long way in leaving a lasting impression. You can also wish them a happy birthday if you have that information, or even reach out to B2B clients and congratulate them on a new product launch or business achievement.

3. Be there for them in tough times

When clients are going through a difficult period, do what you can to help them get through it. For example, you may choose to accept late payments or defer late-payment charges for those who are experiencing a rough patch. You could even suggest a payment plan for clients who are having cash flow issues.

Depending on your relationship with your client, you may also consider referring them to contacts who might be able to help them out, such as with alternative financing options or inventory liquidation.

4. Create a customer advocacy team

Dedicate a team, or internal staff, to managing a customer advocacy program. Having a specific person or group responsible for nurturing customers into advocates will formalize the process and ensure that it’s a key strategy in your customer growth plan.

In addition, consider establishing a loyalty or referral program, which can encourage customers to become advocates. Then, task your customer advocacy team with managing its growth, and the positive spin-offs will naturally evolve throughout your entire organization.

 

If you’re looking to grow and expand your business into the future, making strong business relationships is the cornerstone to success. Here at Liquid Capital, we’re business owners, too, so we understand what our clients go through. While we’re dedicated to helping out clients with their financing needs, we also get to know them as people so we can understand their business challenges and opportunities—and then work out a plan to be the most useful partners for them.


Ready to learn more about our versatile, unique range of financing solutions that suit many sizes and types of businesses? Contact your local Principal today.

Effective communication skills

How leaders can navigate these market recovery trends

Liquid Capital’s Fall Roundup Part 1: As the economy begins to stabilize, how can you successfully navigate the market recovery?

market recovery trends

This year, there has been a substantial shift in the ways that customers and employees engage with companies. For many entrepreneurs and business owners, much time will be spent navigating current market recovery trends.

From finding enough time and mental stamina every day, to make impactful decisions and changes for your business, to motivating yourself and those who work for you — only the strongest will successfully emerge from the upcoming COVID-recovery period.

Manage your time more effectively as you navigate the COVID-recovery period

time management market recovery trends

Recovering from the ripple effects that the pandemic had on businesses will take serious time and energy — something that most entrepreneurs were running short on before COVID struck. Leaders who want to ensure that they’re able to take their companies into the next year (and years to follow) must be able to allocate the right amount of time to the right tasks. The company, its employees and its customers depend on it. These five tips can help you get started mastering the skill of time management.

Read more

 

Keep employees motivated if they’re still working from home

Keep employees motivated

After almost two years of remote work, workers are struggling with mental health, productivity and overall success now more than ever. And while many employees are making the transition back to the office, many more are continuing to work from home. Is your office space still in transition to fully on-site or are you and your employees continuing to work from home? And what can one author’s experience being homeschooled teach us about shifting how we work remotely? Find out below!

Read More

 

Better mental health leads to better decision-making during times of uncertainty

Better mental health

Our brains were not made to constantly shift in response to the new demands of a quickly changing world. And since the pandemic hit, many leaders have been pivoting on a dime and being agile in order to stay competitive. Accepting that our brains were physically not designed for this kind of stress is the first step to becoming stronger. The next step is embracing the following top strategies.

Read more

 

 

Effective communication skills: The leadership key to 2022

Effective communication skills

From active listening to asking effective questions to getting comfortable being uncomfortable, if you want to lead a team with ease your communication skills must be on point. Here are nine of the best ways that you can start improving the quality of your communication and, in turn, lead your team better.

Read more

 

Up next: Build stronger, longer-lasting relationships.

strong business relationships

4 tips for maintaining strong business relationships

Part 2 of the “Business Relationships Series”: The importance of maintaining strong business relationships with your contacts and clients.

strong business relationships

The way businesses attract customers has shifted forever. The old methods of marketing to catch a customer’s attention, getting them interested and having them make a purchase doesn’t happen in the same way anymore.

In Part 1 of the “Business Relationships Series” we looked at some key tips for turning prospects into customers. In this part 2 of our series, we’ll look at what to do now that you’ve landed a new customer—and ways to help you keep them as a customer.

Strong business relationships are like a good friend

Imagine for a moment this scenario in your personal life… 

You’ve made a new friend and have a great connection—but then as soon as you hang out, maybe going for a round of golf or dinner at the newest restaurant in town, you stop calling and seeing them. Chances are, they probably wouldn’t be willing to help you when you call needing a ride to the airport or an extra hand when you move.

It’s a similar situation in business. One of the biggest mistakes a company can make is to neglect their current customer base. Doing so inevitably results in high churn and loss of customers—which can have a serious impact on your cash flow. Not only is it more expensive to bring in new clients to replace those you’ve lost, but you’re also missing an important opportunity to increase your sales. 

You need to keep working to make sure your current customers (and referral sources, suppliers and other business contacts) are happy in your relationship. If you have a high churn rate, then it may be time to look at ways to strengthen your customer and contact base.

Here are four tips to get you started:

1. Offer an excellent product or service, with a best-in-class customer experience

Having a great offering is clearly a big advantage for both securing and keeping customers. However, the way you treat your customers is just as important as what you deliver to them. Ensuring that everyone in your company buys into the notion of providing an outstanding customer experience, and delivering the training and support to ensure they succeed, will set you apart from most of your competitors.  

Not only will this strategy ensure that your customers stick with you, but it will also turn them into your biggest fans who will deliver quality referrals and help you to grow your business.

2. Put your customers first

Having a customer-first business strategy can really pay off and set you apart from your competitors. Listen to your customers, take their feedback into consideration and keep your brand promises. This could mean that you may need to invest extra working capital into your business, which can be a daunting thought if you’re already struggling to stay cash flow positive.

If you do find yourself in need of additional capital, consider leveraging an alternative funding solution, such as invoice factoring. Remember, investing in your customers may come with short-term costs, but the goodwill, trust and gratitude you will earn will bring dividends in the long term.

3. Be honest and authentic

Nothing will kill off a business relationship faster than little white lies or coming across as untrustworthy. Clients will smell it from a mile away and run for the hills. If there is a problem, own up to it, explain how it happened and, most importantly, describe in detail how you will put it right.

4. Help your customers become successful

Be a partner, not just a supplier. Use your experience and expertise to provide advice that will support them in growing their business. Help them to overcome problems, suggest new potential markets or introduce them to a valuable supplier or potential customer.

 

Just as with any personal relationship, most people want to work with others who provide genuine support and a mutually beneficial experience. Companies can nurture and strengthen their current customer base by providing valuable advice, ideas, contacts and encouragement. By being a trusted partner and resource, your customers will stick with you—and bring you referrals.


At Liquid Capital, we understand the importance of relationships and work to help provide you with the working capital you need so you can focus on your customers. Want to learn more about how we can help you and your clients? Contact us today.

Business relationships and meeting new contacts

7 ways to make strong business relationships that last

Part 1 of the “Business relationships series”: The important steps for making, keeping and strengthening business relationships so your company can thrive. 

Business relationships and meeting new contacts

Turning prospects into customers — and ecstatic customers at that — is the holy grail of small and medium-sized businesses. Building a customer base from scratch is hard, but with the right strategies, you can turn a snowball into an avalanche pretty quickly.

Building strong business relationships — with customers, referral sources and suppliers — is essential for modern businesses to succeed. 

Here are some key tips for converting strangers into loyal customers:

1. Have sales and marketing work in sync 

It’s more important than ever for these two teams to work side-by-side. Not all customers have the same buying journey, so the sales team needs marketing’s support to be efficient and flexible. At the same time, marketing efforts need to be proactive and able to build customer relationships at different speeds. 

2. Don’t drop the sales ball

Business relationships with Sales team

It’s also important that, after all the hard work to make new contacts, create leads and get positive brand equity, that your team doesn’t drop the ball during the sales process. This can happen, even unintentionally, if you aren’t managing your lists to reach out to contacts, start the conversation or follow-up at the right times. 

But more importantly, remind your Sales team that building relationships is key to long-term success. While they may have a short-term quota, it’s critical to get to know the contact. 

3. Set goals around building relationships

The prospect’s experience with your reps needs to be of the highest quality, not only to convert them into customers but also to set up high expectations of what doing business with you will be like. 

Set internal goals around the customer experience and SLAs around response time and quality of follow-ups, so that you can hold your team accountable for building relationships. Encourage team members to meet objectives through gamification, bonuses and regular reviews.

4. Mine useful customer data — and use it effectively

Business relationships and customer data

Invest in software that will enable you to identify and track your potential customers and deliver insights that you can quickly and successfully act upon. This information can be used by the sales team to understand how close each prospect is to becoming a customer, and how best to move them along that journey.

5. Get personal

Make interactions personal, based on what you’ve discovered about the prospect. This customizes their experience, makes your interactions more meaningful and will encourage them to take the next step. 

6. Deliver real value before asking for anything

Provide prospects with something of real value well before they become customers. This could either be a piece of useful and actionable advice, a valuable referral, a customer story that fits your prospect’s situation, or a white paper that addresses one of their main concerns. 

By constantly providing value, you’ll set your company up as trustworthy, an expert in your field and worthy of your prospect’s business. 

7. Check in with prospects frequently

Stay top-of-mind by keeping in touch with prospects regularly. But don’t just send them a generic email. Find out if there are any key issues they’re going through and, as per the previous tip, and deliver something valuable. 

 

At Liquid Capital, we’re business owners, too. We understand what challenges our clients are facing and the importance of evolving their businesses in the new normal. While we’re dedicated to helping our clients out with their financing needs, we also get to know them and understand their business opportunities, so we can work out how to be the most useful partners.


We have a versatile, unique range of financing solutions that suit many sizes and types of businesses. Get in touch today to find out how we can help and how much working capital we can provide your business. 

 

Images by Paval Danilyuk, George Morina and fauxels.

mental health for entrepreneurs

Positive mental health practices for entrepreneurs

Part 2 in our series on self-care in business, and how mental health practices for entrepreneurs and business owners can improve your work-life balance, productivity and efficiency.

mental health for entrepreneurs

Being an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart. While you enjoy the benefits of setting your own goals, hours and definition of success, those benefits come with long days, putting out fires, and a lot of self-reliance. 

Managing the inevitable stress — and even burnout — you may come up against as an entrepreneur, while at the same time working hard to scale your business, manage your staff and deal with whatever life throws at you can be incredibly taxing. And when you are a small or medium-sized business, managing those concerns can be tricky without the programs and policies that are only feasible for larger enterprises. 

Keep reading for accessible ways to engage in self-care to ensure that you stay on top of your game. 

Managing your work-life balance

If you’re feeling the effects of stress on your mental health, you’re not alone. In fact, a 2019 US study by the National Institute of Mental Health found that 72% of entrepreneurs reported mental health concerns. A similar 2019 study by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) found that 46% of entrepreneurs reported that mental health concerns impacted their ability to work

When the CMHA asked entrepreneurs what they needed most to maintain positive mental health, “more than half (57%) reported they needed work-life balance.” The most common coping strategy, however, was “being persistent,” which is not necessarily feasible or effective. 

But this doesn’t mean that a happy work-life balance is beyond reach! When you don’t have access to professional mental health practitioners, employee assistance programs, or the staff to help shoulder some of your workload, there are some simple ways to support your mental health.

1. Schedule breaks like appointments

Many of us feel guilty for taking time away from work when our success rests squarely on our own shoulders. But when you recognize that breaks are actually an investment in yourself, including your ability to make sound decisions and produce your best work, it’s easier to see how crucial they are to your performance. 

Instead of squeezing in time for a quick break whenever you can fit it in, schedule your breaks just like you would any other appointment or meeting. This is helpful whether you are at the office or you are working from home.

For example, one BC-based communications entrepreneur schedules his yoga classes and golf games into his calendar like he would a client meeting. “So, if somebody calls and says, ‘Hey, can we meet?’ I just go, ‘No, I have an appointment then.’ I don’t feel guilty about it anymore the way I used to. This is a necessary component for me to be able to perform at a high level. So, I’ve got to take care of myself first.”

2. Find a release

It’s important to allow ourselves time to recharge so that we can come back to our work with fresh eyes. This means that when you do take a break, even just for 15 or 30 minutes, you need to allow yourself to completely disconnect from your job. 

That could be something physically active like hiking, something creative like painting, or other hobbies and activities you love, such as gardening, spending time with your kids and pets, or even reading a novel.

In fact, a 2012 study from Stanford University found that there is a significant increase in blood flow to the parts of the brain associated with executive functioning when you are closely reading literature.

3. Talk to other entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs are often isolated – you have to rely on yourself to problem solve and manage your own health. Reaching out to other entrepreneurs, colleagues or friends to simply talk about the issues you’re facing can be hugely helpful in working through those issues. 

When we normalize talking about our mental health, we find not only more avenues to cope, but that we’re not alone in what we’re going through.

4. Revamp your nutrition

Long hours fuelled by coffee and protein bars may sound familiar, but it’s not doing anything to help you be at your best. Harvard researchers found that diets high in vegetables, fruit, unprocessed grains, fish and little red meat or dairy can lead to a 35% decrease in the risk of depression. This is because 95% of our serotonin is produced in our gastrointestinal tract. 

Researchers explain that “your gastrointestinal tract is lined with a hundred million nerve cells, or neurons, it makes sense that the inner workings of your digestive system don’t just help you digest food, but also guide your emotions.” If you don’t have the time to cook, explore the possibilities of food delivery subscriptions that make nutritious meals more convenient.

 

Being an entrepreneur can be both exhilarating and exhausting. By finding mental health practices for entrepreneurs, including simple and inexpensive ways to prioritize yourself, you can better prepare for those moments when you need to be operating at your best. Take your mental health seriously – your business will thank you.

At Liquid Capital, we’re business owners, too, and we understand the many challenges that owners and enterprises face. We work alongside our clients as true partners, and we’re not only ready to help assist with your financial needs, but also in other strategic areas that can help take some weight off your shoulders and keep your business growing.

 

Missed part 1? Learn how to build more self-care into your business and build a sustainable routine.

Cash flow crisis

Sail through a cash flow crisis — 5 places to batten down the hatches

Part 2 in our “cash flow through uncertainty” series. Missed part one? Read «How to manage cash flow through uncertainty

Cash flow crisis

When you’re in the thick of a full-blown crisis and know what you’re up against, what can you do to come out the other side intact? What strategies can you use and what resources can you lean on? 

Here are five places you can focus your attention:

1. Focus on your customers

Your best customers are a great resource in times of crisis. You could offer them hard-to-shift inventory at a discount and give favourable terms for paying invoices early. Now is also a good time to contact old customers: use your CRM software or run a report from your sales software and send them offers that can turn inventory into quick cash.  

2. Be proactive with your receivables process

Make sure your invoices are extremely clear, with a specific due date, purchase order number, details of the goods or services the bill is for and the name of the person who placed the order. Send out a reminder when the due date is close and another when it passes. Pick up the phone and call if you still don’t receive payment. Make it easy for customers to pay: offer e-transfer, credit and debit card and mobile payment options. 

3. Consider invoice factoring

This financing option allows you to sell your invoices to an invoice factoring company such as Liquid Capital for a small fee. You receive money owed much faster, and, because it’s not a loan, there is no interest to pay. This can be a really effective cash flow strategy for businesses during a crisis.

More questions about invoice factoring? Get the answers here:

4. Try and extend your payables

Talk to your key suppliers and try and improve your payment terms. Negotiate longer payment periods or ask for a discount if you pay sooner. 

5. Review your cash flow forecasts constantly

During a crisis, you need to keep on top of your cash. Look over your cash balances daily and reconcile them with a robust accounting software so you constantly know how much cash you’re holding at any given time. Review your forecasts more often than in normal times: at least every three months.

 

If you’re looking for some guidance to improve your cash flow during a crisis, get in touch with us and we’d be happy to chat. We’ll review your current cash flow along with options to improve your business situation so you can take the next step in your strategy with confidence.

Cash flow through uncertainty

How to manage cash flow through uncertainty

Part 1 in our «cash flow through uncertainty» series.

Cash flow through uncertainty

The COVID-19 pandemic has proven a big test for many small and medium-sized businesses. Being able to manage cash flow during its various stages was key to many companies’ survival, but sadly, those who were not prepared did not survive. 

Crises can take many shapes: from another pandemic to an unexpected industry meltdown or an abrupt change in a business owner’s personal circumstances. 

It pays, therefore, to have tactics and resources ready when faced with times of uncertainty, a crisis or recovery. This forward-thinking planning will give your business a better chance to not only survive the next crisis, but to come out the other side even stronger.  

Managing cash flow in uncertain times

During a prolonged period of uncertainty, small and medium-sized companies can’t afford to carry on business as usual. When you can’t be sure of what’s around the corner, you need to be prepared for what might be up ahead. Having solid cash flow is essential to ensure that you can keep producing your products or service, pay your staff and keep the lights on. 

There are a number of strategies you can use when uncertainty makes it difficult to plan with any accuracy:

1. Set up financing options

It can be a lot easier to put financing in place before you actually need it. One strategy is to arrange for a rolling line of credit in case cash flow becomes tight. The big advantage of a line of credit is that you don’t pay interest until you use it. It’s extremely flexible and allows you to borrow and pay back at any time. You may never need it but setting it up now could help you to survive if things go sideways. It can also help you to have peace of mind, knowing that you have a back-up option if cash becomes tight. 

2. Factor your way ahead

Since many businesses are already extended on their credit or cannot qualify for traditional financing, you may also consider invoice factoring as another way to improve your cash flow in uncertain times. By accessing working capital based on selling your open invoices, you won’t go further into debt and you can gain immediate inflows — and you won’t be paying interest or penalties compared to other types of financing.

3. Hit the growth pause button

Going ahead with aggressive (or even moderate) growth plans during uncertain times can be devastating. Stretching your finances by expanding, taking on more real estate or increasing your employee count may not always be a good idea if the economy is on the verge of a dip. Put those expansion plans on the back burner until you feel that the situation has become steadier and more predictable.

4. Reassess your inventory

Take a good look at your stock and see if there is anything that can go. Inventory that you know can take a long time to sell, or an excess amount of any particular stock could be cleared out quickly to turn it into much-needed cash. You could either offer it to your best clients in a discounted flash sale or sell it to a liquidator. 

5. Take a ruthless look at your costs

Improving your cash flow in uncertain times provides the ideal opportunity to go over your costs in minute detail. Cancel or pause anything that is not absolutely essential to the successful running of your business. Any savings you can make now will help keep your cash flow healthy if things take a turn for the worse. 

Get our Cash Cycle Guide for smart strategies to maintain positive cash flow.

6. Find a trusted alternative finance partner

We would be remiss not to include this tip. You likely have a finance partner at a traditional financial institution, but you should also have alternatives in place if the bank says no. At Liquid Capital, we work alongside you and your banking partner to ensure you get the right mix of financing when you need it.

 

Uncertain times can escalate quickly, especially when a true crisis hits. By getting ahead of the issues, you’ll be prepared to get through a downturn in the market and keep your business prosperous. 

 

Up Next: Sail through a cash flow crisis — 5 places to batten down the hatches

Self-care in business - Mental wellnessSelf-care in business - Mental wellness

Building self-care into your business

Stressful days and sleepless nights are common when running a business. By adding self-care routines into your day, you can mitigate some of those worries to become more fulfilled and rested.

Self-care in business - Mental wellnessSelf-care in business - Mental wellness

Entrepreneurs are a special breed. While you get to pave your own way you also have to deal with any roadblocks that come up as you go. It’s a lot of work, but worth the effort in order to be able to build your own business from scratch. 

That said, the nature of being your own boss means that there’s nobody else to turn to for help when things become overwhelming or stressful. Where does your mental health fit into your own business strategy? Keep reading for tips on building self-care into your business.

Stress and entrepreneurship

Working for yourself means that you are faced with more challenges and fewer resources than non-entrepreneurs. Michael Freeman, a researcher from the University of California, explains that “entrepreneurs have lower initial earnings, lower earnings growth, lower long-term earnings, greater work stress, and more psychosomatic health problems than employees.” This means that issues like depression, anxiety, and ADHD are more common among those who choose to work for themselves.

A 2019 study from the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) found that rates of stress are even higher among women entrepreneurs. Without the programs or policies for leave and other supports you might find in a large organization, many business owners are left to care for their mental health on their own. 

Brigette, a Quebec-based event planner, puts it succinctly: “I can’t go higher than me to try to find help.” 

In that same 2019 study, CMHA found that 23% of entrepreneurs surveyed said that they simply didn’t know where to turn to access mental health support, which left them without the help they needed.

Be your own self-care advocate

When you’ve moved beyond the growth stage of your business and are more firmly established, you have more options available to you to support your mental health, including that of your staff. 

That support is an investment. If you don’t take care of your mental health, your business is at risk when you’re the one at the helm. Here are some actions you can take to support yourself as you continue to build your business.

Delegate work

Being the leader doesn’t mean that you need to have your hands on every aspect of your business. In fact, you’ve grown it and hired staff so that you don’t need to manage every detail! When your workload is so overwhelming that you find yourself losing sleep, experiencing brain fog, or unable to function as you normally would, it’s time to delegate some of your workload. 

Take an inventory of your tasks and determine which items could be passed along to staff who have the capacity to take them on. Once you free yourself up to rest and recharge, you can focus on the big-picture issues and important decisions for your business.

Join a formal support network

Are there industry-specific associations or organizations in your city? Have you connected with other entrepreneurs? If not, consider joining a national association, like the US Association for Small Business and Enterprise, the National Federation of Independent Business, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, or the Women’s Enterprise Organization of Canada

These kinds of organizations are developed to serve entrepreneurs — and accessing a support network or connecting with others who understand where you’re coming from can help to alleviate some of the stress of being your own boss.

Seek professional care

The advice of a mental health professional is one of the most effective means of determining the course of action best suited to your needs and stressors. While some people are nervous about how they will be perceived by their peers for accessing mental health care, it’s important to recognize that the stigma around mental health care is waning. 

In 2019, for example, 65.5% of US adults received mental health treatment. If you have more than 10 employees, consider offering an employee assistance program to support you and your team.

These programs can help you and your staff with mental health concerns or to prevent burnout, navigate conflict or transitions, and manage stress. Contact the Canadian Employee Assistance Program Association or find the best US provider for your needs.

 

Being an entrepreneur is both rewarding and taxing, but your business shouldn’t come at the cost of your own health. By delegating work to your team, joining a support network, or seeking professional care, you’re taking a step toward ensuring the long-term viability of the business you’ve worked so hard to build.

 

Part 2 up next: Positive mental health practices for entrepreneurs

Then, get 10 business quotes for a jolt of motivation

Digital marketing pillars

Six digital marketing pillars to improve ROI

Digital marketing pillars

Businesses have been adapting swiftly into digital sales and marketing — finding new ways to drive revenue even though they might not fit into a traditional “online selling” model. If you’re in this same boat, you may be wondering what digital marketing pillars you should focus on to increase your presence and give you a better shot at finding online leads — and closing deals. 

We recently reviewed how to build a smart digital marketing plan on a budget. Now, with industry and marketing opportunities changing so rapidly, you might want to dig deeper into the right digital marketing mix to promote your business and spend your resources wisely.

For digital marketing, in particular, there are six main areas of focus — pillars — that will help you build an online presence and effectively promote your business, products and services. 

Note that you may not choose to focus on every pillar, especially if budgets and people resources are tight. But by focusing attention on one or two of these, you can dedicate the right amount of time and money to give you a greater chance of achieving your goals.

Digital Marketing Pillar 1:
Content Marketing

“Content” is a form of marketing focused on creating, publishing, and distributing content for a particular audience online. This can be blog articles, web pages, landing pages, eBooks, white papers, infographics, videos, webinars and many other formats. 

According to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), marketing is impossible without great content. «In short, instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent. The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty.»

If you’re new to content marketing, start by outlining your customers’ frequently asked questions. Then answer those in quick blog articles and publish them on your website once a week, and promote them on the social media platform that your target audience is on the most. This will get you well off to the races!

Digital marketing pillar 2:
Native advertising

digital marketing pillars - native advertising

Also known as sponsored content, native advertising matches the style of the platform it appears on. Native advertising comes in the form of videos, articles, or editorials. 

In the past, this type of content was commonly called «advertorials» and would show up in magazines, almost masquerading as a seamless transition from one page to the next. Now, there are many more opportunities to deliver native advertising that will also be valuable to readers.

«Think of native advertising as a way of distributing your high-quality content so it can get discovered by consumers who might not yet know enough about your brand to engage with that content on your owned media channels,» explains CMI.

Instead of publishing all your great thought-leadership content on your own site, you may want to pay to have this content appear on a third-party site that has a bigger audience, more reach and can get your brand some great exposure.

Digital marketing pillar 3:
Pay-per-click (PPC)

PPC is also commonly referred to as Google Search (since it’s the most common platform for this advertising, although other search engines such as Bing offer options. PPC is a form of advertising that allows marketers to set up campaigns on search engines to drive traffic to websites or landing pages. The advertiser pays the publisher directly, which is most often based on when someone clicks the ad — hence the name. Other online search pricing is based on the number of impressions displayed.  

Note that with PPC, you’re bidding in an auction-style setting, and the terms you may want to be discovered for are likely on the radar of competitors. Some of your fellow advertisers may have deep pockets and be will to spend more to get to the top of search results. So be careful not to spend too much money on the wrong terms, and look for ways to niche.

Digital marketing pillar 4:
Search engine optimization (SEO)

SEO is a popular method of marketing, where marketers target unpaid traffic. The goal is to improve the quality and quantity of website traffic to a website or web page from search engines. 

Popular vendor SEMRush explains SEO simply: «SEO is the art and science of persuading search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo, to recommend your content to their users as the best solution to their problem.»

By optimizing the content on your website and making use of keywords that people are searching for, the search engines will understand who your company is, what you offer, and know that you are a credible resource to direct people to when they are searching for information.

Digital Marketing pillar 5:
Social media marketing

When you make use of social media platforms and channels to promote products or services, this is known as social media marketing (SMM). Popular forms of SMM include Facebook Advertising, Instagram Ads, and TikTok videos.

But before you can advertise, you need to create great content and publish it on the platforms. For businesses, this can include posting thought-leadership blogs, helpful resources and guides, videos of your experts explaining how they help (or teaching your audience something valuable), and even special offers that will capture attention.

Buffer explains that there are five SMM pillars to follow, and only the final component is the actual advertising area where you spend money.

Digital marketing pillar 6:
Email marketing

Email marketing is far from dead. In fact, it’s thriving and has garnered a second wind in the business world for delivering helpful information and valuable promotions of products or services.

But «email marketing» isn’t just a direct message from you to individual customers, and it’s not spam either. As Hubspot explains, it’s somewhere in between. «It’s one of the few marketing channels we can use to build an authentic connection with the humans that keep our businesses alive. … Your customers don’t give their information lightly, and — if used right — email marketing can be both a relationship-building and profit-building tool.»

Now, using automation and nurture streams of content, the power of email marketing has skyrocketed. By creating emails that genuinely update your audience and make it worthwhile for them to open and read the message, you can actually evolve those relationships, build trust and potentially even convert sales.

 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed at what marketing direction you want to take as we evolve into a post-pandemic business environment, you’re not alone. But remember that you can always shift your pillars along the way to better suit your marketing objectives. Marketing also includes some trial and error, and if you have a good plan in place, you’ll also have contingency plans and backup strategies to allow you to pivot with relative ease.

 

And if you’re in need of working capital to execute on these strategies, whether it be for payroll, inventory or any part of your strategy, get in touch and we’ll be happy to discuss how we can help.

create a digital marketing plan

Create a smart digital marketing plan on a budget

When the pandemic forced many businesses to close their brick-and-mortar locations, successful entrepreneurs doubled down on their digital marketing plan. Here’s how you can too.

create a digital marketing plan

The pandemic forced many businesses to shift their focus online and left them to come up with creative solutions to selling. Pivoting their company was the only way to survive, and many found success when they shifted further into a digital strategy

If you’ve decided to take this leap forward, here are a couple of things to keep in mind when you’re integrating the ‘new digital normal’ into your marketing and sales efforts — and creating a smart digital marketing plan on a budget: 

1. Determine your business goals

Would you get in the car without knowing where to go? Similarly, when you’re creating a marketing plan, you need to know what your business needs to accomplish before you set that plan into action. 

Start by asking yourself the following questions related to your company:

  • Do I want to increase sales?
  • Do I want to connect with different customer segments and increase brand recognition?
  • What are my long-term revenue and profit projections? 
  • Are there new products or services that should be added to the mix?

Then look at things from your customer’s point of view. How would they answer these questions:

  • How was my experience dealing with that company?
  • How would I describe this company? Do I really know what they do?
  • Do I trust them?
  • Would I buy from them again?
  • Would I recommend this company to a friend or colleague?

Establish your short and long-term goals based on the answers to these types of questions, and stay focused on that ‘prize.’ Ensure your entire team knows what these goals are, and connect their individual KPIs to the higher-level objectives.

2. Understand your market

You need to know your market fit to build an effective marketing plan (and then budget for it). When you understand how you stack up against your competition, you can better establish which strategies you need to compete with and apply them to your roadmap. 

Start by running a competitive analysis to research what others are doing, including what kind of market share they hold in digital channels. You can use tools such as SpyFu and SEMRush to analyze the keywords they rank for, what kind of traffic they receive on their websites, and research how they position on search engines. 

Create a competitive analysis

This knowledge is essential to stay ahead of the curve and build strategies that capitalize on your findings. Competitive analysis isn’t about «spying» on your rivals though. It’s about learning from their victories and their mistakes to proactively save your business time — and potentially wasted efforts. 

This step will improve your overall knowledge of your industry by analyzing the pros and cons of different company’s processes, products, services and sales. This will help you modify your digital marketing plan and determine how to fill gaps to deliver better results.

There are so many different directions you can go with digital marketing, but narrow in on the tactics that match your desired outcomes and a better ROI.

3. Who do you want to work with?

In-house vs. outsourced team. This is a significant factor that will influence your digital marketing plan and budget.

There are many advantages of hiring an in-house marketing team. The obvious benefit is that you have complete control over how your marketing is executed. There can also be stronger collaboration amongst various departments across your company, and you’ll be building a company culture that can have many spinoff advantages.

However, the obvious disadvantage of relying on your in-house marketing team is that you’ll need to dedicate a lot of time and resources to sourcing, interviewing, hiring and training that staff. You also have to prepare for drawbacks such as running into the same creative execution time and again and dealing with turnover costs. If a team member leaves, you’ll need to have a process to quickly replace them to keep your plan on track.

Marketing teams

Alternatively, there are some advantages to working with vendors, contractors and outsourced teams. First, they tend to be more specialized and come with extensive experience and skills to execute the marketing plan. It’s up to them to stay on top of current trends, marketing best practices and bring new ideas to the table — so that is off your plate. They can also offer guidance and help you through any obstacles or failures that you may face during the execution of your project. 

It can take time to bring an external group up-to-speed with your products, solutions, company workflows and various people they’ll need to work with. In addition, it can be hard to find a truly trusted outsourced team who understands your goals and vision — so this should be a high priority.

 

Up next, you may want to do a deeper dive into your digital marketing tactics and mix in order to focus the right time and resources. By reviewing these few things as part of your digital marketing strategy updates, you’ll be able to match your next action items with your intended goals — and develop an outstanding digital marketing plan. Naturally, you’ll also review your budget and need to ensure you have the working capital to execute these strategies — and that’s where we can help further.

If you’re in need of financing to bring this plan to life, whether it be for payroll, inventory or any part of your strategy, get in touch today and we’ll be happy to discuss how we can help.