8 Content Marketing Types for Local Businesses

8 Content Marketing Types for Local Businesses

You know that content marketing is still king. That’s unlikely to change and that means that it’s your job to create and share the kind of content that’ll bring customers to your business and help you improve your bottom line.

The numbers back up content marketing’s importance. Research shows that 91% of all B2B companies use content marketing, and the same is true of 86% of B2C businesses. However, only 63% of companies have a dedicated content strategy.

You can see the issue at hand. Content marketing is a must and yet doing it improperly – without a clear focus and strategy – can be a huge waste of time and money.

With that in mind, here are 8 content marketing types to help you build your strategy and grow your business.

#1: Blog Posts

blog post

Blog posts are hardly revolutionary in the world of content marketing, yet a lot of local businesses still aren’t blogging regularly. Those who do reap rewards:

  1. Companies that blog get 97% more links to their websites than companies that don’t
  2. Companies with blogs have a 434% higher chance of receiving a high Google rank compared to companies without blogs
  3. 10% of blog posts are compounding, which means that they attract more organic traffic over time

For the best results, keep your blog posts tightly focused. Optimize them for local and voice search and make sure to use a clear, easy-to-follow structure in each post.

#2: Infographics

A lot of local businesses don’t bother with infographics and that’s a shame. They’re increasingly popular and perfect if you need to present a lot of data in a way that’s easy to understand.

While you might think you need to hire a professional graphic designer to make infographics for you, that’s not true. Online tools such as Canva and Venngage make it simple to create beautiful, shareable infographics.

Infographics can help you build authority and gravitas. They’re ideal for sharing on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook. If you’ve posted a data-heavy blog recently, consider transforming it into an infographic to share on social media.

#3: Customer Testimonials

customer review
You already know that customer reviews and testimonials are essential forms of social proof to use in your online marketing. However, if you handle them properly, they can also be part of your content marketing strategy.

Consider shooting video testimonials that tell a compelling story and give people a reason to buy your product or use your service. Video testimonials can be posted on your website, emailed to your list, or shared on social media.

#4: Case Studies

The term “case study” can be an intimidating one but think of them as in-depth customer testimonials. A testimonial will usually focus on how the customer feels about your business. A case study shows how you or your product helped a customer.

If you decide to use case studies in your content marketing, make sure to:

  1. Tell a compelling story in an engaging way. Incorporating some suspense and emotion into the story will keep people interested and ensure they stick around until the end.
  2. Be as specific as possible. Don’t just say that you helped your client grow their business – provide metrics and numbers wherever it’s possible.
  3. Show your customer’s journey from start to finish. Make sure to explain where they started, why they came searching for you, and what happened after they found you.
Case studies should be featured on your website. They can also be shared on social media.

#5: Memes

Memes are perennially popular and can be useful as a form of content marketing – but there are a few pitfalls you should be aware of.

It’s not a great idea to share random memes that have nothing to do with your business. Instead, it’s your job to find a way to take a popular meme and make it relevant to what you’re selling.

If you’re not sure how to use memes, check out Hulu’s social media pages. They use memes all the time, and very effectively. You can also check out what your competitors are doing.

#6: Videos

video marketing
Video marketing is still very popular. You can produce videos cheaply using your cell phone and a host of free online tools.

However, you don’t need to stop with traditional marketing videos. Here are some ideas:

  1. Create short videos (3 to 60 seconds) to share on Instagram
  2. Use the Boomerang app to string together a series of images into a short video
  3. Create GIFs using free tools such as Giphy or EZGif
  4. Try an animated or white board video
There are many video formats, so feel free to experiment and find out what resonates with your target audience.

#7: Checklists and Cheat Sheets

Some of the best content marketing provides actionable solutions to common problems. People don’t follow their favorite brands on social media for fun. They do it because they’re expecting to get something in return.

One easy way to provide it is by creating checklists or cheat sheets for your followers to use. For example, if you own a coffee shop, you could create a checklist to brew the perfect French Press coffee.

You can keep the checklists you create simple or design them to be downloaded and printed. Either way, you’ll be giving your followers something valuable.

#8: eBooks

Writing an eBook can seem like a daunting task and for that reason, a lot of local businesses stay away from them. However, a well-written short eBook can help you attract new subscribers for your list and build authority
at the same time.

Keep in mind that a lot of the eBooks sold on Amazon have 10,000 words or less. That works out to about 40 pages of content at 250 words per page. You have the option of writing the book yourself or of hiring a professional writer to do it for you.

Keep in mind that your eBook should be relevant to your business and valuable to the target audience you want to attract. eBooks are best used as lead magnets. You can advertise them on social media to get people to download them and subscribe to your list.

Content marketing is here to stay – and the 8 types of content marketing we’ve listed here can help you build your following and increase your profits at the same time.

Local Marketing Trends You Can’t Ignore

Local Marketing Trends You Can’t Ignore

Marketing trends change all the time. And, if you’re a local business owner, it can be hard to keep up. Which trends should you follow? Are there any that aren’t worthwhile?

In marketing, you’ve got to pick and choose. Very few people have an unlimited budget that allows them to jump on every trend.

But that doesn’t mean you can ignore trends completely. The trick is to pursue the ones that have the greatest chance of earning money and attracting new customers – and disregarding the rest.

So, let’s cut through the non-essentials and get to the important stuff. Here are the trends you simply can’t afford to ignore.

online review

You can’t go anywhere without reading about why online reviews are important – but a surprising number of businesses still aren’t prioritizing them. In other words, this isn’t a new trend, but it’s an essential one.

The numbers don’t lie. A recent survey showed that 86% of all consumers read online reviews before making a purchase, and fully half of consumers in the coveted 18-34 group say they always read reviews.

The solution? Claim your listings on Google My Business (more on that later) and crowd review sites such as Yelp and Angie’s List. Set up a system for responding to reviews, both positive and negative, and encourage your existing customers to review your business.

Mobile Payments

Mobile payments are convenient and – when used properly – they can protect consumers’ financial information. Research shows that the mobile payment trend has been steadily rising over the past 5 years and is expected to top one trillion dollars in 2019.

Some of the best and most reliable mobile payment apps include:

  1. PayPal
  2. Venmo
  3. Zelle
  4. Square Cash
  5. Google Wallet

If you’re not sure what your customers prefer, ask them! You can pose a question on social media or ask people when they come to your store. Offering mobile payments provides peace of mind to your customers and can help you attract new customers who like to support businesses that support mobile payments.

Chatbots

When you hear the word “chatbots” are you thinking science fiction or reality? If you chose the first option, it’s time to pull your head out of the sand and step into the 21st century – because chatbots are here to stay.

The truth is that 1.4 billion people interact with chatbots every day. Not only that, adding live chat to your website can increase conversions by 20% and send your ROI skyrocketing by as much as 305%.

Programming chatbots can be complicated but it’s a worthwhile investment. You can start small by programming a chatbot to handle customer payment inquiries and other routine tasks. The trend is toward full virtual assistants, so keep that in mind as you move forward.

Interactive Video Content

Interactive videos are another trend that might sound like sci fi. The trend toward interactive videos in marketing is a huge one, though. Let’s look at the numbers:
  1. The click-through rate for interactive video is 8 times higher than for regular video
  2. 360-degree video has a 48% higher completion rate than regular video
  3. Likewise, the ROI on interactive video is 14% higher than with regular video

Major brands such as Johnny Walker, Samsung, and Porsche are using interactive video to connect with their customers. 

video content

Google My Business

Google My Business is one of the best ways to increase the visibility of your local business online. If you haven’t already claimed and optimized your listing, then the chances are good that you’re losing business to your competitors as a result.

You can click here to claim your listing. Once you’ve done that, it’s a must to complete your listing and optimize it for local searches. Here are some pointers:

  1. Enter all information that Google requests, including your full business name, address, phone number, URL of your website, hours, prices, and so on.
  2. Upload pictures of the inside and outside of your business and any products that you sell.
  3. Include your company logo, slogan, and other marketing information.
  4. Include your most important local keywords in your business description and listing.
  5. Update your followers on important events and announcements by creating Google My Business posts.
  6. Encourage customers to leave reviews.
It’s also important to monitor your Google My Business listing since it’s possible for customers to change information on your listing. You’ll need to make sure that your hours and other information are correct.

Facebook Recommendations Insert:

Facebook is still the most widely-used social media site with more than 2 billion active monthly users. It’s also a place where your followers can recommend businesses (including yours!) to their friends and social media connections.

Facebook is continuously tweaking their options for local businesses. As of 2019, Facebook Recommendations show up at the top of your business page. You’ll see an average rating plus the number of people who recommend your business.

Anybody who clicks on your rating will have the opportunity to answer a simple question:

Do you recommend Business Name?

They’ll answer yes or no and then they can offer to share their specific thoughts with you.

You can use Facebook Recommendations to encourage your customers to leave reviews. The responses you receive can help you attract new customers or offer you opportunities to improve your products and services.

Location-Targeted Mobile Ads

It’s no secret that GPS technology has become commonplace. What you may not know is that you can use its sister, beacon technology, to engage with your customers and provide them with location-specific ads and offers.

To do it, you’ll need to:

  1. Create a mobile app and encourage your customers to download it
  2. Use the app to track their locations
  3. Use their locations to send push notifications with offers, coupons, and promotions
For example, you might set up multiple beacons in your store. Then, when a customer’s browsing, you can use the app to send them notifications offering special deals on the products they’re looking at.

Another option is to ping your customers when they’re near your business and entice them to come in instead of passing by.

Local marketing changes on a near-daily basis. The trends we’ve listed here are ones that are unlikely to go anywhere – and using them properly can help you to attract new customers without overspending on marketing.

How to Use Facebook to Connect with Local Followers

How to Use Facebook to Connect with Local Followers

You probably already know that Facebook has more than two billion active monthly users. Obviously, not all of them are in your target audience – but many of them are. For that reason, it’s important to understand how to use Facebook to encourage your existing customers to talk about your business and recommend it to their friends.

Facebook offers a variety of tools – some old, some new – that enable small business owners to connect with their customers. I It’s time for all small business owners to make full use of it to increase their visibility on social media and attract new customers. Here’s what you need to know.

Pinpoint Your Location on Facebook

Your customers can’t buy from you if they don’t know where you are. When you log in to Facebook, you’ve probably noticed that you have options when you post a status update. They include tools to tag your friends, post photos or videos, or express emotions. One of them is the Check In, which allows you to say where you are.

When Facebook users click the “Check In” pin, they get a list of nearby places. They can choose where they are or even add a new location if they don’t see their precise location on the list. People even add their homes to Facebook for fun.

When this option was first introduced back in 2010, Facebook called it Places. You’ll still see a Places tab when you do a search on Facebook. It’s a geolocational tool that pinpoints a user’s location and broadcasts it to their Facebook friends and followers.

Updates to Facebook for Small Businesses

In the early days of Facebook advertising, it was easy for local businesses to grab their share of organic reach on Facebook. The algorithm was simple and posts that got a lot of engagement got pushed to the top of the feed.

That’s no longer the case. Facebook’s algorithm now prioritizes contact from people, not businesses. It’s become increasingly difficult to get any kind of organic reach – which is, of course, part of the reason Facebook earned $16.6 billion from advertising in the fourth quarter of 2018.

In August of 2018, Facebook announced several key updates specifically designed to help local businesses increase their visibility and connect with customers. They included:

  1. Redesigning mobile Pages so users can view Facebook Stories, make appointments, view recent content, and more.
  2. Changing “Reviews” to “Recommendations” and making them more prominent on business pages.
  3. Expanding their ‘Job Finder” tool to make it easier for Facebook users to find jobs with local businesses.
  4. Expanding the “Events” feature to make it easy for local businesses to plan and sell tickets to events on Facebook.
  5. Creating a standalone “Facebook Local” app to help users find and connect with local businesses on Facebook.

 As you can see, Facebook has recognized that their algorithm changes, which have made it increasingly difficult for local business to get their share of organic traffic, had made Facebook a less attractive marketing option for local businesses. These updates alleviate those concerns by making it easy for your customers to find you on Facebook.

Facebook to Connect with Your Local Followers

That covers creating a Place, but you’ll also need to verify that you’re the owner. To do that:

  1. Search for your business in the Facebook search bar and click the result in the Places tab.
  2. Click the “Is this your business?” link on the left side of the page.
  3. Follow the instructions to verify your business via phone.

If you try to add your business and discover that there is already a Places page for it – users can create them if they want to check in someplace – then you can simply click the “Is this your business?” link and follow the instructions to claim your business.

How to Make Your Business More Visible on Facebook

Once you’ve set up Facebook Places for your business, there are some cool features you can take advantage of.

Let’s start with the obvious. It’s great to encourage people to check in at your business when they visit. You can accomplish that with a sign in your store or by having employees ask people if they’ve checked in on Facebook.

You can also update your Places page with relevant information about your business. The main things to add are your address, phone number, business hours, a profile picture and a cover image.
You can also share photographs and general information about your business.

Facebook will create a map with your business pinpointed on it. It will show up on your “About” tab along with the “Get Directions” button.

Customer Recommendations on Facebook

When Facebook Places first launched in 2010, customers could leave reviews and star ratings on business pages. As of 2018, Facebook renamed this feature “Recommendations.”

Recommendations show up at the top of your page. Facebook displays customer recommendations, including brief written reviews. Your customers can also:

  1. Upload photographs
  2. Choose which things they recommend (for example, a specific service or product)
  3. Write reviews within a set character limit

Facebook also displays a question underneath the Recommendations:

Would you recommend Business Name?

There are Yes and No buttons right there, making it easy for your customers to recommend your business to their friends.

To turn on Recommendations, you’ll need to go to Settings, Edit Page, and then go to the section called Tabs. From there, you’ll simply choose the option to “Choose Default Tabs” and then add the Reviews tab to your page.

Going forward you can increase your visibility on Facebook by:

  1. Asking customers to check in when they arrive at your business
  2. Encouraging them to leave recommendations and upload photos
  3. Include a Review button in your marketing emails and on your websites
facebook for business
Loyalty Program To Keep Customers Coming Back!

Loyalty Program To Keep Customers Coming Back!

Loyalty programs are everywhere. I’m willing to bet you have several loyalty cards in your wallet. You may even have loyalty memberships you’ve forgotten about. Customers love them – and with good reason.

A well-thought-out loyalty program provides benefits to customers that can range from reduced prices for products to giveaways to exclusive access to special events and offers. For businesses, they help with customer retention by incentivizing loyalty.

The trick, of course, is creating a loyalty program that does both. There are lots of different options, including referral programs.

So, with that in mind, let’s talk about loyalty programs. Should you create one? What benefits and features are best for your customers and you? Here’s what you need to know.

The Benefits of a Loyalty Program

Let’s start by talking about the benefits you’ll reap if you start a loyalty program that appeals to your customers. There are several that make loyalty programs a must for marketers and business owners.

  1. They can help you retain customers. One study found that a 5% increase in customer retention led to an average 25% increase in profits.
  2. 60% of loyal customers say they buy more frequently and make more purchases from the brands they love.
  3. Surprisingly, loyalty programs don’t cost companies as much as you might think. It costs far more to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one. When you offset the cost of a loyalty program against the cost to attract new customers, it’s still a far less expensive option.
  4. Customers who participate in loyalty programs feel valued and that triggers a cognitive bias known as Reciprocity. That’s the instinct that makes us feel that we should return a favor when someone does something for us.
  5. Research shows that loyalty programs increase sales. According to one study, members of loyalty programs generated between 12% and 18% more revenue for businesses than non-members.
  6. Loyalty programs can help you learn about your customers. It may take a bit of trial and error but creating a loyalty program allows you to collect valuable data about your customers and their buying habits. You can use what you learn to fine-tune your loyalty program and to create offers that will appeal to your most loyal customers.

Loyalty programs offer benefits to you as a business owner while also giving your most loyal customers a reason to return to your business, increase their purchasing, and recommend your business to their friends and social media followers.

Features of a Successful Loyalty Program

What features should your loyalty program have? There’s no one correct answer, but there are some things that most successful loyalty programs offer. Here are the ones that you should seriously think about working into your program:

  1. A structure that incentivizes customers to purchase frequently and spend more money than they normally would. A good example is the beauty supply store ULTA. Loyalty members earn one point for each dollar they spend and may redeem points for over 20,000 products. There are platinum and diamond levels with additional incentives.
  2. Early access to special offers and products. A lot of loyalty programs offer members insider status where they get first access to new offers and a heads-up on the release of new products. It’s a good way to make your loyalty program members feel valued and special.
  3. Ease of use. Providing a frictionless experience is a must if you want members to participate in your program. It shouldn’t be difficult to join, and you should make it simple to accrue rewards and use them.
  4. Personalization. It’s a great idea to create a mailing list for your loyalty members and personalize what you send to them.
  5. Freebies. Customers must accumulate points to earn rewards, but there’s nothing wrong with offering them something just for joining your program. A key example here is Sephora, which offers a free birthday gift to members every year. It’s a nice reminder that they care about their customers – and who doesn’t like a birthday present?
  6. Brand relevance. Finally, your program should be relevant to your brand and deliver what your customers want.

“The key here is to think about your business, brand values, and customers and create a loyalty program that delivers on your customers’ expectations while helping your bottom line.”

ideas for loyalty program

Here are some suggestions for how to structure your loyalty program in a way that makes customers want to participate.

  1. Use a simple point-based system. I’ve seen some loyalty programs that are convoluted. Here again, ULTA’s “one point for each dollar spent” is a role model. Nobody’s getting confused about how their system works.
  2. Charge a fee for access. This option might seem counterintuitive but it’s often quite effective. Two examples are Amazon (Amazon Prime) and REI, which charges a $20 fee for lifetime access and pays dividends to customers based on how much they spend during the year.
  3. Build your program around shared values. Not every reward needs to be monetary – and some can be both monetary and do good in the world. A great example is Patagonia, which offers a “Common Threads” program that allows members to resell their used clothing on the Patagonia website. Since their customers care deeply about sustainability, this offer makes sense for them.
  4. Gamify your loyalty program. Everybody loves a game and there are lots of ways to make loyalty fun for your customers. For example. Safeway offers an annual Monopoly game that gives shoppers game pieces based on how much they spend. They can earn rewards including free groceries, prizes, and cash rewards.
  5. Create a tiered system to further reward big spenders. It makes sense to give your most loyal customers – the ones who buy the most from you – additional rewards. Creating different reward levels (Gold, Silver and Bronze, for example) will incentivize people to buy more to earn the extra rewards you’re offering.

Different products require different structures. A restaurant owner might choose a straightforward “Buy 10 meals, get one free” approach, while a retailer might be more interested in a points program.

Once you get your loyalty program going, track the results and use what you learn to fine-tune your structure and rewards. Your customers will let you know if something’s working – and your bottom line will reflect their increased loyalty.

AdWords is D-D-Dying. Hello Google Local Services!

AdWords is D-D-Dying. Hello Google Local Services!

I’m sorry that I have to break it to you but… AdWords is dying.

Well, I’m not that sorry. I’m eager to tell you because Google Local Service Ads are a better option for local businesses than AdWords ever was.

Why? Because AdWords was an advertising tool that could be adapted for local businesses – with the right local keywords, it’s been possible to get to the top of Google’s SERP. But it was never intended specifically for local service based business.

That’s not the case with Google Local Service Ads. It’s designed especially for local businesses. Let’s talk about it – and about the Google Guarantee Badge.

Why is Local Search a Must?

Simply put, 75% of all local searches result in an in-store visit within 24 hours. This one statistic demonstrates the importance of local SEO. If you can attract a lead through a search, the odds are in your favor that the searcher will come to your business.

As Google focuses more on local SEO and searches, it’s natural that they’ve decided to offer searchers a way to verify local businesses. And that’s where Google Local Services comes in.

Google Local Services got its start as Google Home Services in 2015. It was originally a pilot program in the San Francisco market. It offered consumers some detailed and useful information about local businesses, including:

  • Confirmation that the business is properly licensed
  • Confirmation that the business is properly insured
  • Confirmation that all employees have passed a criminal background check

That last requirement was part of the screening process for any company that made in-home visits. The intent was to provide customers with some peace of mind before they contracted with a business.

Once a business has passed Google’s screening, they’ll get a badge with a green checkmark next to it and the words “Google Guaranteed.” That’s a signal to potential leads that your business is trustworthy.

What Does the Google Guarantee Offer Consumers?

The Google Guarantee offers two things to consumers: peace of mind and financial protection. Here’s how it breaks down.

The first thing is that, as I mentioned before, the Google Guarantee tells potential leads that your business is licensed and insured and that your employees have passed a criminal background check. That’s essential in the home services industry.

The second thing the Google Guarantee offers is financial protection. Google will reimburse money paid for a job when the consumer is dissatisfied. There’s a lifetime cap of $2,000 and the service must be:

  • Booked through Google Local Services
  • Unsatisfactory in quality
  • Submitted within 30 days of the work being completed

Per Google, “Add-on or future projects, damages to property, dissatisfaction with price or provider responsiveness, and cancellations aren’t covered.”

If one of your customers files a claim, Google will contact you to let you know. You’ll have a chance to work things out with your customer first. If that fails, Google will reach a verdict about how to handle the claim.

Where Do Google Local Services Ads Appear?

If you haven’t taken part of Google Local Service listings yet, you might be wondering “Why do I need to jump through hoops to complete Google’s screening process?

Well, there’s a couple really good reasons. Let’s discuss.

First, if you’re properly licensed and insured, the only other thing you need to do is get background checks for your employees. And frankly, if you’re sending your employees into people’s homes, that’s a good idea for every business.

Second, it’s all about the ad placement. Businesses that pass Google’s screening process get preferred placement on the SERP on both desktop and mobile devices.

On desktop, business with the Google Guarantee Badge appear in a box above both the traditional Google 3-pack and the regular organic search results. The display will list:

  • Your company’s name
  • Your rating (from one to five stars)
  • Your Google Guarantee Badge
  • Your city and state
  • Your telephone number
  • Your business hours

Typically, the three companies with the highest ratings for the search term will appear at the top of the SERP. There’ll also be a link underneath the top three business that consumers can click to see more businesses.

On mobile devices, the Google Local Services ads appear above the SERP, too. Typically, the top two results will appear along with the name, badge, rating, and a call button that mobile users can click to contact you directly.

adwords
Google Ads

Potential leads will know that your business has been guaranteed by Google. They can access reviews easily and be confident that you’re someone they can trust with whatever work they need.

Remember, in any sale process there’s a need to overcome buyer objections. One of the biggest objections when people are looking for home services is safety. They want to know that you’re reliable and that your employees can be trusted. The Google Guarantee Badge provides some peace of mind and takes the guesswork out of hiring you.

But here’s the best thing – While traditional ads operate on a pay-per-click basis, Local Service ads run on a pay-per-lead basis. That means you’re only charged for the leads you receive through your Local Service ad.

And, compared to regular search ads, Local Service ads have a pretty simple setup. No keywords, research, or creative to manage.

Are There Any Downsides to Google Local Services?

I can’t say that there are any real negatives to qualifying for the Google Guarantee Badge, but FYI not every business can take part of this program. Google’s Local Service Ads cater to local service-based businesses in specific industries, such as locksmiths, plumbers, garage door professionals, electricians, and HVAC services. To find out if you can connect to your customers with Local Service Ads, first confirm your business type and location here.

So if you’ll jump through some hoops – Google’s Local Service Ads can give your business a big leg up on your competitors and drive more high quality leads to your business.

Conclusion

Google AdWords is dying whether you’re ready or not. This is the perfect time to embrace Google Local Services, go through the screening process, and get that coveted green checkmark next to your name – so if you own a local service based business – what are you waiting for?

Why Your Competitors are Thriving and You’re Not!

Why Your Competitors are Thriving and You’re Not!

What are your competitors doing that you don’t know about?

That might sound like a paranoid question, but it’s not. It’s a marketing must. If you don’t know what your top competitors are up to, you can’t beat them. It’s that simple.

Of course, you can’t expect the competition to turn over secrets to you – but you don’t need them to do that to be informed. All you need to do is observe, think, and ask a few key questions about what they’re doing.

Where Are They Marketing Themselves?

The first thing you need to know is where and how they’re finding customers. You don’t need a copy of their marketing blueprint to figure it out. Here are some suggestions.

  • Check out their website and make note of their most important keywords. You probably have some keywords in common, but you should still look at their content to figure out which words they’re targeting.
  • Search the keywords you’ve identified on Google and Bing to see if they’re advertising with either search engine.
  • Search social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn to look at their profiles and see the kind of content they’re sharing. Your Google search may also turn up a few retargeting ads for you to check out.
  • Track their social media mentions.

You may want to create a spreadsheet to track who’s marketing where – and how they’re doing it. Don’t forget to check sites like Tumblr, Snapchat, and Reddit. They don’t get mentioned as often as Facebook and Instagram, but they still offer marketing opportunities.

Marketing

What Makes Them Unique?

You’ve spent some time figuring out how to distinguish yourself from your competitors – but how do they distinguish themselves from you?

A brand’s Unique Value Proposition tells you a lot about how they see themselves. Are they branding themselves as innovators? Solid and reliable? Affordable? Luxury?

You can pick up a lot of clues about your competitors’ unique qualities by looking at their websites and ads. What you learn can help you figure out how to be more competitive.

What Marketing Techniques Are They Using?

It’s not enough to know where your competitors are putting their marketing dollars. You also need to know what they’re doing with it. It can take some time to get a handle on their strategy, but it will be time well spent.

You may notice that they’re running both search engine ads and retargeting ads. That may indicate that their target audience requires a lot of nurturing before they buy. Or, you may notice that they’re relying heavily on customer-created content on social
media, and that could inspire you to create some brand ambassadors of your own.

You should also make note of the kinds of content that performs best for them in terms of engagement. Are they posting lots of videos or sticking mostly to photos? Are they using infographics or instructographics? Every technique they use could point in the direction of more effective marketing for you.

What Are Their Strengths and Weaknesses?

As you observe your competitors’ marketing and check out their websites, you’ll probably notice that there are some things they do exceptionally well. Maybe they’ve got killer blog posts that fans love and that get tons of shares on social media. Or, maybe they’ve got a YouTube channel with hundreds of useful videos.

At the same time, you should look for things they’re not doing so well. Maybe their website’s out of date or their social media posting is irregular. Maybe they haven’t done a good job of differentiating themselves in the market.

Make note of anything that might be helpful. Your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses can help you fine-tune your own marketing strategy.

Marketing Strength

What What Are Their Values?

It’s become increasingly important to consumers to know that the brands they buy have a moral center. You know that because you’ve seen the way brands can suffer when they misbehave. Customers can turn on brands in a flash if they feel they don’t share their core values.

If your competitors are affiliated with causes or charities, it’s important to know about it. You should look especially hard at any marketing efforts that tout their involvement and values. It’s quite common for brands to dedicate pages on their websites to their charitable efforts and values.

Millennials put a very high premium on corporate values both when they seek employment and when they shop. If you’re not clearly articulating your values and your competitors are, you might be at a disadvantage.

Keep in mind that when you express your values, you should look for causes that align with them. For example, a lot of food manufacturers and restaurants get involved with local food pantries and soup kitchen or sponsor food drives for hungry families.

How Do They Engage Fans?

Perhaps the most important question to ask is what your competitors are doing to engage their followers and fans. Engagement can mean a lot of different things from reading a Facebook post to creating unique, brand-based content – but it matters at every level.

One of my favorite ways to track engagement is to look at my competitors’ CTAs on social media. What are they asking fans to do? They might:

  • Ask fans to vote by asking them to like a post for one option and share it for the other.
  • Ask a question and encourage fans to answer in the comments.
    Sponsor a contest and give entries to fans who like, comment, and share their posts.
  • Ask fans to create content and use a special hashtag they’ve created for that purpose.

You can also make note of the kind of content that gets the most engagement. Do they get five times as many likes on the videos they share as on photographs? Are they sponsoring contests to incentivize engagement? These are all good questions to ask.

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