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How To Choose The Best Marketing Channels For Your Business

Written by on March 04, 2019

When setting out to make a name for your business online, you might as well be organizing a small diplomatic caravan in a landlocked nation with numerous borders.

How do you break up your limited force of diplomats? Do you send them all to the biggest neighboring nation? Send one to each of your neighbors?

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It’s something of a headache.

After all, if you try to cater to every marketing channel, you’ll have great difficulty achieving anything remarkable — the quality of your content and message will underwhelm, and your team will lack cohesion. And if you pick just one, and find that it doesn’t have the effect you expected, you may have wasted a lot of time and effort.

The sensible path ahead, then, is to pick a handful of channels to prioritize. This way, you can keep your quality up but also protect against relying too heavily on any given channel.

But how do you choose those channels?

Here are some handy pointers:

Locate your target audience

If your marketing campaign rolls out on a channel that doesn’t actually contain any prospective customers, it’s absolutely futile.

Yet, this happens more often than you think.

Marketers get overzealous and feel the need to embrace new channels and new possibilities without reasonably determining that they have something worthwhile to offer in the first place.

Think about how flavor-of-the-month social media channels get so much attention before flaming out.

For instance, despite all the buzz, is there much value in trying to market a product on Tik Tok at the moment? There may be plenty of people using it, but not necessarily relevant people, nor people likely to take product or service recommendations from such a platform.

So instead of lining up all the channels and weighing them up, start by tracking down the people to whom you want to market.

Figure out your target market first, and then focus on the marketing channel accordingly.

Note down all the elements that will go into it: age, sex, disposable income, background, profession, etc. Consider all the interests that bind them and are related (directly or indirectly) to whatever you’re marketing. After doing so, use that information to scour the internet for relevant communities.

For instance, suppose that you were marketing waterproof electronics for underwater use: a simple search for relevant keywords might reveal the existence of a sizable Reddit community dedicated to underwater activities such as diving and cave exploration.

You could then investigate the most prolific and respected posters, find their other social media profiles and thus determine where they talk about relevant topics the most.

Given that there are also offline marketing channels, you may want to carry out a survey (formal or informal) to find out how commonly relevant people read newspapers, magazines, and pieces of direct mail.

At the end of this process, you’ll have a fairly strong idea of where your prospective customers congregate, and in what numbers. This will allow you to rank marketing channels by general value, and give you a clear foundation when it comes to priority.

Identify your marketing goals

The next thing to think about is what you want to accomplish with your marketing.

It isn’t as simple as making people familiar with whatever you’re offering — there are levels of nuance to it that must be taken into consideration.

When choosing a channel, a lot depends on your requirements and what you hope to accomplish. So, start there.

For instance, if you want to sell more products as quickly as possible and you don’t particularly care about what will happen in the future, then PPC advertising is a great option. It scales up rapidly, produces consistently cost-effective results, and can be paused, change, or deleted as needed — it’s the top choice of website flippers who buy live stores just to sell seasonally (and sell those businesses once they’re finished).

Alternatively, if you’re looking for overall business growth, and you’re marketing your business overall (as opposed to specific items), then organic blog-post marketing might be better. It builds up over time, gathers value, and pays it back over a long period — all without suspicion.

Additionally, the content is relatively simple to produce, so that’s a bonus.

Or perhaps you’re aspiring to become a thought leader in your field. In which case social media is your natural destination. By engaging with people across social channels, you can build hype around your business. And even pick up some attention from existing thought leaders.

Remember that there’s no right or wrong answer here. It simply comes down to what type of business you want yours to be.

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Establish a clear budget

Every marketing channel will cost you in some sense. Send something in the mail and it will cost you postage and packaging. Run a Facebook ad campaign and you’ll pay by click or by the number of impressions. Post on Twitter and it will cost you the amount of time required to build up a lot of relevant followers.

Here’s the key: your time is worth something, as is your effort.

Time is money, so to speak. Think of the opportunity cost.

So, it doesn’t really make sense to talk of “free” marketing channels. It’s all on a scale — and to make sense of it, you need to have a clearly-defined budget before you begin your campaign. How much money you should invest will depend on the size, profitability, and ambition of your business. As well as your level of confidence in the quality of your marketing materials.

The nature of your budget will depend on your goals, of course.

A PPC campaign will generally benefit from a monthly budget that will allow some flexibility. Ahead of each month, you can tweak that amount depending on the results of the preceding period. It’s a sensible approach.

For organic marketing, though, an annual budget could be better. You might not get results within a month, so it would be unreasonable to gauge campaign success so quickly. If in doubt, lower the budget, and wait for signs of progress until you pour more money back into it.

Budgeting can be simple enough as it is when you’re handling everything in-house, but if you’re doing any outsourcing, be sure to track all of your ongoings very carefully — smart invoicing software will help with this. No matter the type of budget you end up with, though, remember its significance. And use that to help you decide which channels are actually worth your time and money.

How to Create a Great Small Business Budget Budgeting is crucial but can seem difficult. That’s why today we’ll look at the best way you can create your small business budget in just a few steps. READ MORE

Review your production capabilities

Use your target audience to rank channels for direct relevance. Set out your long-term goals. And establish a budget to flesh out your channel rankings.

Then, it’s time to review your production capabilities.

What do I mean by this?

It’s simple enough: it’s all about how quickly, cheaply, and well you can generate suitable marketing content (or have it generated for you, assuming you can fit that into your budget).

After all, every channel has different content requirements. Each type of content will require a different production process, and every person has a distinct set of skills.

Play to your strengths. Quality over quantity.

What are yours? How heavily will you personally be involved in the production process? How many high-quality blog posts can your team produce in a week? What about infographics, podcasts, or YouTube videos?

If you have a team of employees well-versed in video production, then it would make a lot of sense to work video into your content strategy for distribution through channels including YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook.

Conversely, if there’s no one in your office with even a cursory understanding of basic video editing, then you have every reason to avoid it.

It’s exceptionally frustrating to commit to an exciting new marketing strategy only to find that you’re incapable of meeting demand.

An undercooked effort won’t produce the efforts you’re looking for. Instead, it will push followers away from you. For example, if you commit to two blog posts per week, but find that after a couple of months that you can’t manage the workload.

Work within your limits, and leave yourself room to grow.

Wrapping up

Choosing the best marketing channels for your business is all about ranking the channels for various things.

So, take a step back and think about the potential channels.

How many relevant people do they have? Do they fit your goals? How costly will it be to market through them? And how confident are you that you can generate (or buy) content at a pace fast enough to suit them?

Once you’ve done that, pick a small handful of top contenders, and see what you can do.

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