Few business owners come to a marketing meeting amped to discuss content marketing strategy. For years, I tried to understand the avoidance to identify target markets, or the apathy when choosing platforms and messaging, much less the frustration with the creative process. For years, I assumed small businesses didn’t prioritize marketing, or perhaps understand the benefits of emerging technology. Then I spent a year, really studying all the components of a “World Class” content marketing strategy– CMS platforms, budget and staff requirements, lead-gen tools and apps, content tracking & analytics, email marketing, etc. It became clear that most small businesses in a small town just don’t need that level of content marketing. And the more marketers push for a high-end setup, the more likely small businesses are to give up entirely on developing any kind of content marketing strategy versus planning one that fits the scale of their business.
Am I Really Advocating a Less Complex Marketing Strategy?
In small towns and cities, word-of-mouth often exceeds social media because a business owner often has a closer relationship with their customers, many who belong to long-established overlapping social groups or already have family in the area. The only exception may be the military, who rotate locations every few years; however, business-focused organizations like the Chamber of Commerce generally communicate local activities to this population.
In a small town or city, the question isn’t whether a data-driven campaign is valid, it more has to do with the cost of setting up, running, and analyzing the results. Yes, marketers should encourage small businesses to set aside a budget for a well-planned campaign, but many are going to rely on organic reach when money is tight, or if they simply don’t feel their customer base is large enough for a paid campaign.
Here is where a few marketers are going to frown at my next statement:
Martech is still in its infancy. Don’t let marketers push it on you if you aren’t planning on running a high-end campaign meant to accelerate the growth of your company, or maintain communication with a high volume of clients.
Already several marketers are beginning to question the role of technology in marketing. Earlier this week, I posted a link to the August 21, 2020 edition of The Weekly Wrap where host Robert Rose asks if marketing technology is serving us or are we serving marketing technology?
This Doesn’t Mean We Should Throw All Metrics Out the Window
Martech has its purpose for mid-to-large sized businesses, particularly when it comes to automation and analytics. Things small businesses need, but on a much smaller and cost-effective level. The analytics tools are out there to track how visitors interact with your website or social media platforms, and YouTube tutorials can get you through the setup. After a short period the data will start rolling in. However, data is useless if you don’t have a good idea of what you’re measuring. This is where it is helpful to sit down with your marketing team, or an outside marketing professional PRIOR to running any kind of serious campaign!
People joke that statistics are made up, or in the eye of the beholder. This is more true than marketers like to admit. Even the simplest analytics setup provides a mind boggling amount of data that may give you contradictory information if you don’t have a clear idea of what you are measuring. That clarity comes from identifying marketing goals for your campaign, knowing exactly the buyers to target, and what numbers will tell you that you actually reached your goal. All of this will drive the creation of your content, but it also will drive your data analysis. The types of questions you “ask” the data at the end of your campaign will be tied to what you were hoping accomplish in the first place.
If you’re already planning campaigns in this way, you may be ready to invest in a small martech setup. Otherwise, I suggest investing in creating a campaign development process that includes planning, content creation, and basic analytics. Please don’t skip that first and last part thinking that haphazardly throwing content on your social media page is good enough. Yes, the planning and analytics process is time consuming, but knowing what you want to do and finding out its level of success (or not) will save you more time and money in the end.