There is no single winning marketing strategy that works for all companies. In this article, we look at a few types that can make an impact for your business.
“One of the things our grandchildren will find most interesting about us is that we separate the digital from the real…”
— William Gibson in an interview with Rolling Stone in 2007
We are standing right on this threshold in 2020. Augmented reality is hot: Seeing the world from the screen of a smartphone that provides additional information improves the view and enriches the experience.
William Gibson’s prediction is already coming true as we phase out the word “digital”: All marketing is digital and “digital marketing” is no longer a subset of marketing as everything is blended. Online strategies extend to offline activities, and offline activities are handled online. It’s all just marketing.
However, we can distinguish between different types of marketing that can be categorized using these basic distinctions:
- Business-to-business (B2B) remains very different from business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing.
- Inbound (pull) and outbound (push) marketing are distinctly different.
- Organic media differs greatly from paid media in terms of cost and reach.
The user journey can be understood as a hierarchy of needs or a transition through a funnel: from awareness to assessment and transformation.
Let’s use these container types to look at some of the marketing strategies small businesses can implement today.
Two important dimensions to consider for your marketing strategy are the target market you are active in. Image source: Author
B2B or B2C and whether to distribute your campaigns through paid media or only organic media.
Here are 6 types of marketing strategies that work:
- from ear to ear
- content marketing
- local marketing
- Email marketing
- performance marketing
- Influencer Marketing
1. Word of mouth marketing
There is nothing better than word-of-mouth – if the word circulating is positive. Referrals from others are one of the most powerful marketing methods you can use.
Problem: it’s slow. And the longer your business cycle, the slower word of mouth will be. You can solve the speed issue by requesting testimonials, recommendations and reviews on social media.
If your business uses them, advise happy customers to leave a review on Google, Facebook, and Amazon. Word of mouth marketing is great, but rarely sufficient as a marketing strategy.
2. Content marketing
Content marketing is a pull strategy where you use content to attract users to your offer. It is used for both B2B and B2C. Content marketing identifies the right content that can then be found through search engines and posted on social media.
The main disciplines you should use in content marketing are SEO (search engine optimization) and community management for social media.
There is often an element of push in inbound marketing where paid media is used to expand and distribute content more broadly or more precisely to reach the right target market. Inbound marketing is primarily used in B2B.
Content is a core element of your online presence, naturally distributed through search and social media, and can be further enhanced with paid media. Image source: Author
3. Local marketing
Local marketing targets an audience in a specific geographic area. It’s clearly a type of B2C marketing. Previously, it was done through billboards and yellow pages, but the hyper-targeting capabilities of digital media have added a wide variety of opportunities for online local marketing.
SEO is probably the most important digital marketing tactic for a small business looking to market locally. Think of it as the yellow pages of the digital age.
Regarding digital billboards, social media advertising can fully appeal to people who find themselves within the designated radius of the point of sale, such as a retail store.
You can use discount codes to take them to the store. Local marketing includes both SEO and community management and can benefit from both paid search and paid social advertising.
4. Email marketing
In an email marketing strategy, it aims to capture the customer’s email address to maintain an ongoing relationship through online and offline communication, newsletters or email automation.
It is one of the preferred methods for B2B but can also work for B2C and is especially effective when decision cycles are long. As repeated email interactions maintain the relationship, potential customers go through decision stages that can lead to becoming customers.
The best way to manage a relationship via email is with marketing automation platforms that can track user interactions over time.
5. Performance marketing
Performance marketing uses paid media and extensive monitoring to maximize your marketing results. “Performance” essentially means measuring the outcome of a promotional strategy in detail to allow the marketer to continually improve and optimize campaigns.
Performance marketing is primarily used for B2C campaigns and relies on outbound communications: social media campaigns and paid search and display.
Affiliate marketing is the clearest performance marketing strategy where partners are commissioned based on the results they produce.
Performance marketing can be effective, but it carries risks such as double-counting the conversion or cannibalizing other purchasing channels. It’s not always as spectacular as it sounds, and it’s clearly a high-stakes strategy.
6. Influencer marketing
Influencer marketing is the premium version of word of mouth. It is based on the advice of famous and influential people and is therefore much stronger than word-of-mouth among ordinary people.
In the B2B version of influencer marketing, the marketer will form partnerships and public relations relationships with key opinion leaders.
In the B2C version, marketers establish a sponsorship agreement with a macro-influencer who aligns with the company’s brand values and has substantial access to its target market. Another influencer marketing strategy is partnering with a few micro-influencers to promote your product or service.
These can be found through influencer marketing platforms. The key to a successful influencer marketing strategy is to find the best fit between your brand and influencer profiles.
More marketing strategies
There are many types of marketing for small businesses, and we don’t pretend to cover the full scope of opportunities. These are just some of the best strategies. For some business owners, a personal branding strategy may be the right way to go.
For larger companies, an integrated marketing strategy that uses elements from the above strategies may be the best solution. If you’re in e-commerce, most of your marketing may be happening on marketplaces like Amazon.
The best strategy for your business will be marketing techniques that bring measurable, profitable and consistent results.
Start with word of mouth and then build
Word of mouth is the best strategy you can use for B2B and B2C. But it lacks momentum and you need to add elements from one or more of the above strategies. The ideal strategy for your business depends on your product and target audience, the length of your sales cycle, and the resources you have at your disposal.
With the ongoing and sustained digital disruption, the scope of more digital marketing strategies available to your business continues to expand.