Ah marketing …. (Hmmm, perhaps that should be capitalized)
A lot of small companies, start-ups and entrepreneurs have a LOT to do when they are expanding, building up, starting out or finally reaching market with the next big or better thing and a lot of these companies and people turn to the internet to get “expert” advice on just exactly what it is they should be doing from a brand and digital perspective. Is this a good thing? Sure, from a 50,000ft view perspective it is, but what about when they need to be at 500ft or 50ft?
There are millions of experts online who can shed light on best practice, industry standards and what the best way to build that digital brand and audience is and they should (for the most part) be applauded for their willingness to educate and inform us all, but what happens when they are wrong?
I challenge you to do this. Google (or Bing) “Best way to market for free online”.
Did you do it? No, okay .. I will save you the trouble. Once you get past the ads, you will find essentially the same advice in the first 50 entries and they are as follows.
Meaningful engagement with a target audience
Yes there are methods, strategies and a massive amount of “let me(us) do it for you” but strangely, one thing that is constantly missing is the question. “What do you do”? Which we believe is paramount to providing advice of any kind.
Case in point – a client of ours runs a very successful furniture manufacturing company and wanted to increase their online prevalence so they went to Google, they got their advice and methods, and sat down wondering just exactly what in the hell they were supposed to do with it. They did a free online SEO checkup, got their results, and then got inundated with emails telling them they can be #1, or rank on the first page, get 1000’s of twitter followers, 1000’s of facebook likes and take over instagram virtually overnight! Well, guess what?
Why you might ask? Simple. They had no message, no voice, no consistency across platforms and no method to manage it all. They essentially ate their own messaging letting it get lost in a mess of information that was irrelevant to the actual user
So where does Omnichannel vs Multichannel vs what? come into play you are probably asking yourself … right here.
First an overview –
Omnichannel marketing, in a nutshell, is the utmost in consistency in messaging / brand / voice across ALL applicable platforms. (connecting equally whether it is web, email, mobile, print, etc) It is extraordinarily complex, but effective when executed right. Whether you sell furniture or pave driveways or sell mutual funds or sell software. The message to, and the engagement of the customer come first.
Multichannel marketing – again, in a nutshell, this is the corporate or brand view reaching out, as opposed to the customer reaching in.
So what do you, as a small/medium sized business or entrepreneurial start-up do?
Firstly, you stop looking at Google for a minute and thing about how you can reach your target audience. You know who they are and generally what they respond to (ads on search engines, web sites, blogs, flyers, podcasts, email, mobile etc) Next, you write down a “snippet” about what you do and what sets you apart. After that, you pick the words and phrases that best describe you, your product and your vision. Got it? excellent … dont throw it away yet ..
Now look at your digital environment (if you have one) Facebook, Twitter, Web, Mobile, Instagram etc. and compare your exercise above to what you see in that environment. Are they consistent? Don’t look at whether they are saying the same things but rather, when you are on these platforms, are you HEARING these things? As a user, as a potential client, consumer, purchaser do you hear the message and understand it, or do you just see a collection of information you thought was important because it was important to you? Maybe you have a beautiful web page with lots of bright beautiful pictures and charts and infographs but do these things tell your story and share your message and voice? (Another exercise if you have a minute … Have you ever noticed that a LOT of webpages nowadays all look the same? The colours and fonts may look different but the palettes and families are the same. The flow is the same, the structure is the same, the FEELING is the same … ask yourself why .. and the answer is not because that is what works best for YOU)
Now the all important “what” part of this. The internet can provide some great advice and some great tactics for you to use as you move forward in the digital world trying to improve your search results, your page rank and your followers. But before you do any of those things. Before you hire a SEO expert or digital expert or marketing consultant, know what you want your message to be. Don’t let anyone tell you what it should be. Its your company, your vision.
Take your time. No one (without blackhat tactics for which you will ultimately suffer massively when caught using) can get you on the first page of google or bing or yahoo in a month no matter how much you pay them (rare cases with extremely specialized keywords and sectors excluded but honestly how often does that really happen, and excluding promoted and ad placement)
What is truly important, always has been, is the honest expression of you and your vision, the creation of good and relevant content, and the hard work commitment and persistence to get it engaging and keep it fresh. Sure you may need or want to hire someone to manage it, tweak it, and help it along and there are a lot of great people out there who can help you, just make sure it is you they are helping.