The holidays are now in the rear view mirror. Hopefully you are still on track with your news year’s resolutions. As we approach the end of January, it is difficult to see what kind of a year 2016 will be for small businesses. The economy is still very uncertain. I think we can agree that in 2016, running your business will continue to be a challenge. As digital technology advances, we all struggle to keep up. When it comes to marketing your business, it’s difficult to know what to focus on.
To kick off the year, WIBW asked some of the areas marketers and small business advocates to weigh in on what areas to focus on for 2016. What should you spend more time on, less time? Below you will find tips from those that responded to our request. Karl Klein, Alissa Menke, Jeanine McKenna, Mark Kern and Martha Barlett Piland. Our thanks to all of them for taking time to share their expertise and look into the future. Karl Klein
Kansas Small Business Development Center washburnsmallbusiness.com
Spend more time connecting with your base and distribute content that drives customer actions. Spend less time on total content distribution without a specific focus or method of engagement. Alissa Menke
VP Digital Innovation
Jones Huyett Partners jhpadv.com
Re-think the way you’ve been doing digital advertising. With the influx of ad blockers and the way Facebook’s been limiting the organic reach of Facebook Posts to a Page’s followers, it’s important to start thinking of other ways to get your message in front of your audience. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t continue investing time and resources into running a Facebook Page or placing digital ads (display/video/mobile), but that they should only be a part of the digital strategy you’re implementing because the share of your audience that’s being exposed to those messages is less than it was a few years ago. Jeanine McKenna
Emporia Area Chamber of Commerce emporiakschamber.org
Be aware of how your audience is viewing your content. If they are using smart phones and tablets instead of a desktop computer make sure your webpage and content is responsive to that. Content that is not able to be viewed in the correct way will not get you the marketing results that you desire. Mark Kern
Kern Marketing Group Inc. kerngroupinc.com
Make sure your website is updated and represents your company brand. It’s the first impression most new customers have of your business. Look for ways to penetrate highly trafficked websites in your business region. Spend more of your time and attention to your website. Remember, social media posting alone is not an online marketing strategy. Martha Bartlett Piland
President + CEO
mb piland advertising + marketing LLC www.mbpiland.com
Spend more time listening to your employees. Your employees are the power brokers of your brand. They’re on the front lines, dealing with customers every day. Are they happy? Do they share in your purpose and your goals? If so, your brand comes shining through to customers and prospects in every interaction. If employees aren’t invested and in love with your brand, you have a big problem.
Take time to listen to their concerns and their experiences with customers. Do employees need training? Do they have all the tools they need to excel at their jobs? Are they hearing customer requests for product enhancements or new products? When you hear what they have to say you may discover a gold mine of insights.
Spend less time tinkering with your brand. Stop fiddling around with your logo, your colors, your promise and your slogan.
Epic brands are built through fanatical consistency and faithful stewardship. Changing brand elements on a whim - or because you’re tired of them - wastes money and confuses your audiences. We call it brand fatigue. You get brand fatigue, but your customers rarely do.
Know your brand’s essence: the story, what it stands for and why it exists. Keep it bright and shiny. Guard your brand like it’s the most precious object in the world. When you invest in it properly, it is.
Spend more time on strategy and less time on tactics. It’s so easy to get excited about a fabulous big idea. Sales promotions, a new sign on the building, producing YouTube videos... all of these can sound exciting and fun.
But if they’re not based in a sound strategy consistent with your brand and business goals, you’re putting the cart before the horse.
In 2016, spend less time thinking about tactics and more time thinking about strategy. WHY are you here? WHAT are your goals? WHO are your audiences? HOW will you reach them? HOW you will have enough time and money to get there?
Those big ideas? Measure them back against your plan. Spend some quality time answering the strategic questions first, then look for the tactics that will really help you reach your goals.