Marketing online has made things easier – and cheaper – than ever before for small businesses. But while the Internet revolution has levelled the playing field for most of us, it still rewards people who know what they are doing. In other words, marketing is more of a science than an art, and putting your brand out there online is as much a feat of know-how as opposed to luck or chance. We’ve put together some solid advice on what you can do to make sure your brand stands out and achieves your goals on digital marketing platforms.
We’ve packed this advice into ten tips that are the perfect starting point to begin your branding journey as a small business using digital marketing platforms to reach Kenyan consumers.
1. Develop Your Brand Identity
Before you start anything online, you need to know who you are and who your potential consumer is. What does this mean? It refers to elements like company colors, fonts, and how & where to use the logo. You want this to be as consistent as possible across all platforms where your brand is showcased.
You also need to know who you are appealing to (your ideal customer) and why. Your logo may need to reflect this in some way. The essential thing here is that you establish some hard rules about who you are and what your goals are in terms of marketing and image.
Exercises such as drawing up a list of adjectives you want associated with your brand or target demographic often help. For more visual people, coming up with mood boards of aspirational pictures can work as well. If there are specific companies out there you like or relate to, model them in what is called benchmarking.
2. Establish Rules for Using Your Brand
After you have developed a sense of your brand’s identity, write down the guidelines in a formal how-to manual. This should include everything from the specific colours used in your logo and branding with its corresponding colour codes or pantones, to the font you want to use.
Define how you will address your audience and how you want your brand to be marketed and perceived. This will not only be helpful and useful to your team, but also to outsourced workers like agencies and consultants working with and for you. It will help everyone collaborating with your brand interpret what is “brand-appropriate” or not.
3. Make Sure to Keep Things Consistent Across All Channels
The reason you are working towards establishing a clear identity and rules for its use is that you want your image to be consistently presented online. Not only are consumers more likely to distrust a sloppy branding strategy, but it could also hurt your memorability as a brand in the long run. You want your target audience to be able to go from your Instagram to your Facebook page to your website and never, for a moment, feel like they are interacting with a different company.
4. Build a Marketing or Campaign Plans
Once you have the basics of your digital branding established, you can build out a marketing calendar. This is basically a schedule of promotions highlighting where and how each will be implemented or executed. Ideally, you should prepare your marketing calendar three months in advance. That means you would be finalising your plans for January’s marketing in September or October of the previous year, for example.
Naturally, not all digital channels will be appropriate for your brand nor will all marketing efforts. Try to consider and prioritize only what works for a company like yours. Examples of pre-planned content can include simple social media engagement posts, promotional sales or other one-time events, blog posts, podcasts, and collaborations with other brands, among others.
5. Optimize for Each Channel
Whether it is search engine optimisation (SEO) for your website or the best time to post to social media, you want to make sure that you are following the best practices for each digital marketing channel you want to utilise. Don’t go for a one-size-fits-all approach to sharing online content. Optimise each channel according to best posting times, best hashtags, SEO keywords, and other relevant analytical markers.
6. Run Tests and Experiments for Each Channel
Sometimes, tactics that work well on Instagram don’t do as well on Facebook, even though they are both social media networks run by one company. That’s because the audiences are different for each digital platform, as well as the preferred and supported content formats. Make sure to choose the sites that your audience uses the most. For example, WhatsApp is the most used social media platform in the Kenyan market, followed by YouTube, Facebook, and then Instagram.
So while we encourage you to present a consistent brand identity, we invite you to discover what works for each audience through continuous testing and adjustment as needed.
7. Reward Wins and Examine Losses
If you have something that works, run with it. This means throwing your marketing shillings behind it for advertising. It could be a high engagement Facebook post, a blog post that is bringing in tons of traffic to your website, or something else. If it brings you positive results, boost that post or amplify the post even more. For content that doesn’t work, try to find out why and see what you could possibly do to change it and make it work for your purposes.
8. Innovate and Replicate
Think creatively about your marketing internally and look outside of your company for inspiration on what works for others in your field. You don’t want to stay in a rut, especially online. Novelty and creativity are rewarded here to a greater extent than anywhere else.
You can make a cheaply produced video ad a viral sensation and get more conversions per shilling spent than you would with traditional channels. But this is why it is important for you to do the preliminary exercises to know who you are and what your brand stands for before you innovate and renovate outside of those lines.
9. Responsive Marketing
Getting a scheduled marketing campaign built out is a massive achievement and the first step towards digital marketing success in many ways. That said, it doesn’t mean that it has to be cast in stone. You should make your brand’s marketing responsive to what is currently going on in the world you are marketing your business in, and in your company. How does this work? If you notice consumers are purchasing an item at record rates, you could highlight this in a one-off campaign to promote that item. Or maybe they have a current concern that is arising because of something happening in the news and your company can help.
It really depends on what your company does and what is being offered. The key here is that your company should keep its ear to the ground for opportunities to put the brand out there.
10. Automated Services
Automated services like chatbots and system emails help small businesses manage a growing customer base without necessarily hiring more employees. They not only help replace traditional human interaction in many cases but, in the case of some things like automated system emails, they provide customers with an assurance that your company is there for them.
Examples of this include receiving an email thanking you for your purchase that is automatically sent upon completion of the order or asking a chatbot for the company’s contact information.