New Forest local marketing on a budget - Winter 2020
How to make the most of your marketing in difficult times
So here we are then, a second national coronavirus lockdown in place, businesses and families in the midst of a very hard year. There really is no need for much of an introduction to why you need to read this article. The New Forest has over 9,000 businesses, many of whom (like us) have had absolutely NO support from the government this year. We all struggle on regardless, putting a smile on our faces and desperately trying to save money wherever we can.
Often, the first thing to be chopped at times of difficulty is the marketing budget (if indeed there was a marketing budget in the first place). But think about it, why 'cut your hand off to spite your face'? The important thing is to see any spend on marketing, advertising or PR as an investment in the future rather than a cost.
Marketing is an investment
Ok. So marketing is an investment. And usually one, in fact, that you can offset as deductible business expenses in your accounts (speak to your accountant about that - we recommend Cube Financial Business Solutions). Since pretty much everyone is having a tough time, your customers included, it is important that you look after your customers, that they remember you and think highly of you! If you disappear from sight completely then you run the risk that your existing customers and your target market migrate to competitors who are marketing themselves...
So, where to start with your marketing?
1) Sort out your online presence!
Right, time to get to the nitty-gritty. When people need something or someone, increasingly they search online. If your business doesn't appear in their search, then I'm afraid you won't even be considered.
Your website is your online brochure - an opportunity to showcase your business and everything great that you do. Take a good look at your website. What does it say about your business? And how does it perform for you?
You want a website that looks good, but also it should be responsive (look great on all devices), well-structured, informative and easy to use. Just as importantly, it must have all the technical, on-page and off-page SEO (search engine optimisation) in place to ensure that it features highly in organic search engine results. You also want a website that will provide you easily with relevant, up to date 'content' that you can share on your social media and in your direct marketing.
We can help you with all of this - we don't just design pretty websites, we plan and structure them for the end-user, making sure they are accessible for those with disabilities and intuitive to use on all devices. We write compelling copy that includes the keywords relevant to your target audience and messages to entice them to stop a while, read on and buy your products and services. We make sure that all the SEO elements are in place for your website to perform well in search engines.
If you sell products and/or services, we can help you set up an online shop and train you on how to add all the relevant information for both the end-user and the search engine. And we can ghost-write you news blogs to ensure the content on your website is up to date. If you've not already done so, we can set up Google Analytics for your website and provide guidance on what you should be reviewing. And we will always look at what we can do with your existing website before proposing a replacement.
In the UK, Google is the most widely used search engine (86.59% of UK online search) and therefore it makes sense to make the most of your Google 'My Business' profile too. We can help you sort out your profile, setting it up from scratch if you've not already done so, making sure all the relevant information is in place, including compelling messages about your business. We can also help with your digital assets - photos and also a 360 degree Google approved 'See Inside' of your premises if you have somewhere to showcase! And we can also embed this into your website.
2) Get social!
Love it or hate it, social media is here to stay. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, WhatsApp... they are all fantastic ways to raise awareness of your business, products and services. Social media is all about engaging with others, therefore giving you the opportunity to 'meet' your target audience online. And let's face it, many of us who are working remotely dip in and out of social media a lot at the moment!
However, on some channels, it becomes ever more difficult to make an impact due to changing algorithms. We can help you identify your target market(s) and which social media channels are right for your business. We can set up your accounts for you, then plan and manage your social media on your behalf or train you to manage your own channels, providing valuable tips along the way.
Social media accounts are free - and it is perfectly possible to run successful organic (not paid) campaigns on social media channels - you just need to budget to pay for the time of the person carrying it out.
3) Be direct!
In these lonely, socially-distanced days of 2020, many are craving more contact with the world. A well-timed, well-targeted and well-written email will work wonders! Direct marketing used to be all about printed flyers, postage and royal mail door drops - at a significant cost! Nowadays most people are on email - the challenge is cutting through the junk so that they open your mail!
We can help you to set up an emailer account and send professional emails to your existing clients and your target audience. We'll explain GDPR and ensure that your system ticks all the relevant boxes. We can design templates, organise layouts, source images and write compelling copy with clear 'calls to action' - and, if required, we can provide you with training so that you can use the system too.
4) Shout out further with Lymington.com
So what if you want to reach out further than your existing contacts and social media followers? This can often be a real stumbling block for businesses.
Businesses and organisations in the New Forest can benefit from the unique advertising services of Lymington.com. More than just a website, Lymington.com together with our social media and direct email communications (sign up for our Weekly What's On here!) can promote your business to 60,000+ people weekly, always reinforcing the key message: to buy and do business locally.
All businesses and organisations can set up a free listing in the Lymington.com business directory, thereby gaining valuable online presence from a website that is well-regarded by search engines. Add your listing here.
In addition, all businesses and organisations can list events for free - be they physical events or online. Your event will feature in our popular events calendar, plus a selection of events appear on the home page. Once you have listed your business or organisation, you can start adding events. You can also log in and edit events too (very useful in the current ever-changing world!).
Featured business page
A step up from a free listing is the Featured Business Page (FBP). Businesses without a website gain their own one-page ‘website’ and businesses that have a website with a valuable additional online presence. Your featured business page:
- links directly to your website, providing a trusted backlink
- includes compelling content about your business, providing an additional source of trusted copy, keywords, images and additional links to specific pages on your website
- the copy in the business description can be tailored to the local New Forest area, highlighting relevant propositions that often is not possible on a national or bookings-led website
- enables valuable links to your social media accounts
- can provide links to videos on your YouTube channel
- can provide links to TripAdvisor, New Forest Marque and other important websites
- provides an opportunity for online reviews that can be managed by the Lymington.com team
- provides you with a website URL that you can use across your digital platform and to which you can divert your own domain name if desired (perfect if you don't yet have a website).
Lymington.com membership: active promotion and endorsement via combined online media channels.
Another small step up brings you to Lymington.com membership, a glorious fusion of the best of local advertising, PR and promotion, crafted to promote both your special offers and your core business messages with the added stamp of third party endorsement. With coordinated, regular, powerful online communications the combined Lymington.com media channels reach out via the website news, events, information and business pages together with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn channels and the popular 'Weekly What’s On' email newsletter to promote, champion and endorse your business.
Membership upon sign up includes:
- a bespoke, editable featured business page (as detailed above) that features on rotation on the home page as well as in the business directory - including on all article pages so people wanting to read the articles have to scroll down through the featured ads for the Featured Business Pages on their way
- a short "launch" article
- followed by positive endorsement of your message across all our digital media channels including compelling caption and images
- optional tag and retweet if relevant
- recommendation in our popular feature news articles
- promotion of your job vacancies on Lymington.com Jobs page
- promotion of your events from Lymington.com Events Calendar
- promotion of your special offers - and your offers feature in rotation on our home page
- group promotion of your business/offers at key times across our social media - e.g. Instagram stories/highlights, Facebook stories at Christmas.
Choose then between 'Annual Membership' which includes one promotion in the Weekly What's On newsletter and on each social media channel per annum, or 'Regular Membership' which includes more promotion - quarterly, monthly, fortnightly, weekly - according to your business needs. It is also possible to organise ad-hoc promotion and 'event membership' according to your requirements.
All Membership options: £150 one-off set up cost (includes FBP and promotional article for Google) plus £150 per annum membership. Regular membership costs vary according to contract. Find here more details of Lymington.com membership.
5) Traditional and digital PR
Last but by no means least in our checklist is public relations (PR). Writing a good press release is both an art and a science. A well-targeted, well-written and well-presented press release will gain you media coverage and valuable backlinks to your website. We can write press releases for you and liaise with key media online and offline to help you raise your profile. We can also work with your team to draw up a press release template and process.
Make the most of your marketing
At Bartley Marketing we have the expertise and the experience to help you make the most out of your marketing. Advertising, PR and marketing don't need to be expensive to be effective: our smart marketing consultancy and practical "hands-on" implementation and training represent great value for money. We can help you plan and carry out a cost-effective marketing campaign that integrates all of the above and more besides, including quick rebrands, smart and effective business literature, plus traditional and digital advertising.
Give us a call today to find out how we can help you put your best marketing foot forwards to make the most of 2021...