Figuring out how to share your brand’s message and the right audience to share it with is becoming more difficult in today’s noisy world. After all, businesses now compete for attention with information that’s available through phones, the Internet and social media.
“I think that a big part of what we’re going to see over the next, well we are seeing it now, is how to find that space where we can cut away from the noise and where we can really hone in. It’s not going to be so much mass marketing as it is really targeted marketing towards your audience,” said Cynthia Manley, Kaneohe Business Group president.
To do that, businesses will need an effective digital marketing strategy and solid relationships with other small business leaders and community members.
So, Hawaii Business put together a panel of business leaders to discuss these topics as part of its SmallBiz Academy on Thursday.
The panel featured Manley, Bank of Hawaii VP and Windward Oahu Market Manager Catherine Sato, Kualoa Ranch Director of Sales, Marketing and Business Development Frank Among, and Upspring Media Digital/Social Media Strategist Thomas Obungen. Hawaii Business Digital Media Director Daniel Ikaika Ito moderated the discussion.
In case you missed the event, here are five things we took away from how small businesses can increase their brand’s visibility through digital marketing:
1. All small businesses should have a digital marketing strategy, Manley said. She suggested beginning the process by figuring out what assets your business already has: what team members can do what activities, what knowledge do they still need, what does the company want to accomplish digitally, and how will the assets that the company already has help it achieve its digital marketing goal.
2. Stay informed of the digital marketing trends, Manley said. She predicts that 2017 will be a big year for in-store marketing, live video and content expiration: “Millennials are on their phones 80 percent (of the time) in a store. So if they’re in there, if anybody is in there, and you got the ability to figure out where they’re at, what they’re buying, targeting them, you can have ads pop up that say, ‘Hey, buy now sale.’ ” Content expiration, she said, will add urgency to a company’s message through a “five, four, three, two, one, buy-it-now type of thing, and if you don’t, you’re going to miss out.”
3. Look at your audience to guide your strategy. Obungen said: “What is the audience telling me today? What are they directing me? Where am I going to follow them to? Because that’s ultimately who you’re talking to. By figuring out who your audience is and figuring out the ways that they interact and communicate, is how you’re going to figure out what your digital marketing strategy is.”
4. Local audiences want content that is concise and simple, Obungen said, adding that as long as content can be packaged and shared, it’s going to do very well. In addition, local audiences like video.
5. It’s easy to be a silo when uploading content to social media and websites, but it’s still important for small businesses to cultivate relationships. Sato said word of mouth is still the primary way to bring in business, and because Hawaii is small, personal relationships will mean more than connections made through digital marketing.