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Technology has had a significant impact on modern businesses. Many activities that used to be exclusively reserved for larger corporations with big budgets are now accessible for small businesses, as well.
A startup can access things like affordable manufacturing methods at a lower scale of production. They can also tap top talent around the world through freelancers.
One area that is certainly more accessible but can also be a bit overwhelming is marketing. Online marketing has opened up a brave new world for small businesses. Although it gives them access to a plethora of promotional activities, the sheer quantity of options can be crippling — not to mention expensive.
If you’re an entrepreneur struggling with brand awareness, you’re not alone. Here are a few oft-overlooked strategies to build up the buzz surrounding your business.
1. Embrace the power of audio
Audio content marketing has been around for decades. Radio ads, in particular, have long given companies who can afford them access to very large audiences.
Related: Why Audio Content Works for Engaging Audiences
Promoting a product audibly has proven to be an effective way to engage with an audience. It’s accessible for many who may not be able to use a visual medium. Those with limited data can also download audio files much easier than streaming full-blown videos. And, consumers can listen anywhere and at any time.
While many smaller businesses might not be able to afford radio spots on the regular, they can still cash in on the power of audio content via podcasts. Compared to costly traditional audio commercials on the radio, branded podcasts offer the advantages of full creative control and a higher return on investment. According to Quill’s studies, listeners stick around for nearly 70% of each (roughly half-hour) branded podcast. That’s a big time investment considering how quickly consumers click away from articles and videos these days.
Audio content like podcasts can also hold value all on its own since it continues to reside on the internet long after the first time it aired. That allows each episode to influence potential buyers far into the future.
2. Create a groundswell with influencers
The internet and the rise of social media have opened up another broad marketing category. Companies can pour millions of dollars in PPC ads onto any number of social media platforms to promote their services.
However, smaller businesses with tighter budgets can tap into another powerful, less-expensive form of brand awareness through influencers.
Influencers provide an ideal business alliance opportunity because they can:
Operate as a trusted middleman between a company and its target demographic.
Be tailored to fit any size budget (i.e. use celebrities, micro-influencers, nano-influencers, etc.)
Reach highly-specified crowds with shared interests;
Create an automatic sense of trust between consumers and your brand.
Influencers aren’t just social media channels that allow you to reach consumers. Each influencer comes with a carefully cultivated following. This consists of individuals who have a past rapport with the influencer and who often trust their opinion above most others.
Related: Why Consumers Care About Influencers, and Why You Should Too
By creating a strategy that works with various influencers, you can begin to build a positive association between your brand and your target customers. This can do more than build brand awareness. As speaker and entrepreneur Jay Baer puts it, “True influence drives action, not just awareness.”
3. Dominate local SEO whenever possible
SEO has been a buzzword for ages now, and suggesting it as a generic solution to build brand awareness isn’t anything new. The ability to rank for keywords and drive organic traffic to an ecommerce site is an old-hat marketing tactic at this point.
However, the one area of SEO that often gets overlooked is local SEO. By following local SEO best practices, local brick-and-mortar businesses can improve the organic traffic to its website from nearby customers.
Related: Why Every Entrepreneur Should Focus on Local SEO
That last bit is essential. Some small businesses are competing for a global audience. However, in many cases, younger enterprises tend to operate in local or, at most, regional markets.
When that’s the case, they can cash in on SEO as an easy way to get more organic search traffic. Even if they have a brick-and-mortar shop that requires foot traffic, visits to a company website are still as important. Most everyone these days searches a local store online before they visit. By dominating your local search engine listing, you can gain more attention from the consumer segment that matters most.
Not only that, but if you compete for search engine clicks against a local audience, you reduce your competition. This makes it much easier to operate with a “big fish in a little pond” mentality rather than the other way around.
Brand awareness is a critical part of building a business. But in a crowded marketplace, it can be difficult to make your brand stand out. With limited budgets holding you back, it’s important to utilize affordable online marketing opportunities.
Things like podcasting, influencer marketing and local SEO are all easy to access. They can also scale with you as you grow, helping to inflate your brand awareness every step of the way.