Large companies, with their huge budgets and juggernaut marketing campaigns, seem impossible to compete with. The vast sums of money that they spend eclipse the budgets of many small countries. Small and medium enterprises feel that they simply cannot keep up. How can they win customers in such a competitive market? How can they attract the right type of customer to their company website or social media page?
Organic vs Direct Marketing
When it comes to engaging the right demographic, entrepreneurs have 2 main options at their disposal: organic and direct marketing. The organic approach is all about trying to grow your audience naturally, over time, with the least amount of fuss. It suits business owners who are simply too busy to spend hours on sophisticated strategies that need their input, or those who have a minimal budget.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is an important place to start. By using Google Analytics, you can check the holy trinity of your online marketing efforts: the location, age, and gender of your site’s visitors. If you’re getting visitors, but not converting those visitors into sales, something is amiss. Ask yourself the following questions: Do your website and Google ‘My Business’ accounts list your city? If the age and gender of your average visitor don’t match your required demographic, you need to discover where they hang out, then establish a presence on that platform. Becoming a voice of authority, within your chosen domain, is another popular strategy. Try guest writing for industry websites and publications. Those who peruse the articles can then check out your website and, hopefully, do business with you.
Who are you trying to reach with your website?
Flynn Blackie, owner and founder of MOD Digital, is not averse to organic growth, but he prefers to use a more scientific approach to help entrepreneurs expand their reach—direct marketing. His digital marketing agency helps increasing traffic, sales, and revenue for all kinds of online entrepreneurs, by targeting their archetypal clients in a methodical and psychologically appealing way.
Typically, direct marketing involves a message that is designed to appeal to a certain type of person. It is usually in the form of a proposal, along with a request for a response. The call to action (CTA) is meant to elicit a faster response than the organic route and is a clearer way for businesses to assess the success of their campaign: How many signed up to the newsletter, how many purchased a product, or how many answered questions about their preferences.
The psychological approach
Blackie, and his team, subscribe to a branch of marketing known as ‘the peripheral route’. That is, they don’t focus on information: the product benefits, cost and testimonials. Rather, they appeal to deep-seated emotions and feelings. This subtle approach can often hinge on imperceptible details such as the color, the model in the photograph, or the music in the background. Recipients may not even be aware of why they are drawn to a certain promotion other than they feel ‘connected’ to it on some level.
Describing the rationale behind his model, Blackie says: “We take a psychological approach to marketing. A lot of agencies are failing because they only focus on what’s so good about the product. They miss out on identifying people’s desires, struggles, and aspirations. We use subliminal, psychological triggers to make each ad resonate, without people even noticing it some of the time.”
Marketing must deliver measurable results
Looking to the future, Blackie can think of few industries where direct marketing is not relevant. His company is poised for growth and he’s working hard to shake off the unsavory image that has plagued his profession: “Rather than signing a client for 3 months, and doing as little as possible, I prefer to hold on to my clients by ‘delivering results.” A major area of focus, for the young innovator, is building ‘scalable processes’ so that additional clients, or team members, can be smoothly integrated. “I don’t want to run a chaos agency. Everything is in order and supports my vision of growth: no sacrificing the quality of what we offer.”
Direct marketing is a transparent process. It’s easy to tell if it’s worked or not. You set your budget, make your plans accordingly and then put it into practice. When the dust has settled, your actions have either produced the desired return on investment or they have fallen short. Either the campaign converts, and pays for itself, or it doesn’t.
Advice for small businesses
Crucially, for small businesses, competing with the big guys can be a lifeline that helps them produce a stream of customers. To ensure you keep your marketing efforts fresh, and keep driving the traffic that is your lifeblood, Blackie has some words of advice:
- Make sure all your campaigns emphasize quality over quantity. There’s no point ‘pumping’ out emails, ads, or content unless it’s on point.
- Avoid seeking marketing opportunities on new platforms until you are confident that your existing efforts are effective. Take time to ‘finesse’ what you are doing in one place before replicating it elsewhere.
- If you’ve only ever used text, try adding video. YouTube, for example, is the second-largest search engine on the internet and allows people to find your website. Mix it up with other video services like Facebook Video and Instagram. That way, you give yourself the best chance of being more visible.
- Get to grips with Google Analytics. Look past ‘vanity metrics’. For example, page views alone can be impressive but misleading. Much better to compare them with the ‘bounce rate’ so you can figure out why people are coming to your site but not staying? Always ask yourself: How does this help me grow my business?