How to choose your marketing channels

Before jumping right onto one or more of the new shiny marketing channels out there, do your research and decide if they’re really suitable your business.

I remember a time when the choice for marketing channels was limited. And while I am grateful for the variety of choice we now have, sometimes it feels as though a new marketing channel is being launched every day.

As a small-business owner, it can be confusing as you try to get a handle on your marketing activity (along with everything else that goes with running your business). You’ve just gained control of Facebook, LinkedIn and blogging and along comes Snapchat, Instagram and now paid social ads. So how can you choose the best?

As a marketer, I hear a variation of this statement all too often: “I’m not getting leads because I’m not on [insert new shiny channel here].”

What a lot of small business owners don’t realise is that, despite the hype, the new shiny channel may not be suitable for your business at all. The first and most important question you need to answer before anything else is this: “Where are my ideal customers and what channels do they use?”

So how do you find this and other key decision making information out? Here are five tips for you:

  1. Ask your customers

This one sounds all too obvious but most business owners don’t take the time to do it. Yes, it can be time consuming and (dare I say it) a bit nerve wrecking to ask for raw, unedited feedback from your clients. Taking time to gather feedback, including the key question – “What are the best marketing channels to reach someone in your role?” – is vital to the success of your marketing planning.

  1. Review

There’s definitely no need to reinvent the wheel. Review your previous marketing activity and list the channels that delivered on your marketing objectives. And of course, those that didn’t.

  1. Desktop research

Once you have some idea of the channels you’re going to use, research the primary demographics the channels are targeting. If a channel is aimed at teenagers and your customers are high net worth mature professionals then it’s clearly not for you (no matter how much you want to use it!). Another option is to search for case studies of other businesses that use the channel. What successes did they have? What didn’t work out for them?

  1. Marketing goals

Next, think about what you want to achieve by using the channels you’ve selected. Are you looking to generate leads, awareness or to educate people? Are you aiming to sell more of your product or looking to build trust in your service? Your marketing goals must strongly influence your final decision.

  1. Budget

Finally, what resources – both time and money – are you prepared to invest in setting up and maintaining a presence on each of your chosen channels? Especially with free digital channels, there is a big perception that because most platforms have no financial cost to set up that they’re a free option and businesses can therefore afford to participate on multiple channels. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The strategy, time and patience it takes to develop a lead generating presence on a digital channel, far outweighs the cost (in people hours) that it takes to develop and place a series of print adverts (for example). However, because the physical cost isn’t as immediately obvious, this often gets forgotten.

So don’t be taken in by the hype and jump right onto the next new shiny marketing channel. Do your research and make a considered choice about whether it is right for you and your business.

Holly Locastro, Founder, www.themarketingproject.com.au

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