Within the next week, I’m going to dig into some up and coming digital marketing trends that you might want to integrate into your marketing plan for 2019. But first, I want to outline the current best practices when creating and executing your marketing strategy.

Digital marketing best practices are continually changing. And whether you’re in construction and renovation, landscaping and design, or the trades, marketing is about as far away from what you’re in business to do as two things can be. Yet you need it to get found, especially in this increasingly competitive space.

In this age of DIY, more and more fly-by-nighters are hanging up a shingle and calling themselves Joe or Joanna Handy. They get their kids to set up a Facebook page or Instagram account. They get their niece to sling together a good-enough web page and then they get to work on the projects that have come their way via the preliminary word of mouth that spurred them to hang up their shingle in the first place.

And they’re taking up digital space. It might not be the best use of space, but it’s inhabited, just the same. And maybe, even for just a little while, it casts a shadow on the home you’ve built online. When someone goes looking for a professional service provider in your industry, they just might find J. Handy as well or – gasp! – instead. So how do you – an established, trusted, certified (not certifiable) service provider – get noticed and chosen? Not just ahead of J. Handy, but overall?

The answer shouldn’t be surprising. There’s no magic bullet. It takes consistent effort. Knowing who and where your customer is, and meeting them there on a regular basis. It’s about understanding your customer’s journey – what they’re looking for, how they find you, and all the stops along the path to the sale. And any roadblocks on that path that might be impeding sales.

It’s about personalization and automation, being where the customer is and integrating into, rather than disrupting, their conversation. One thing that has not changed – your marketing is not for you. It’s for your customers. So be where they are, when they are. And say things they are interested in hearing, not things you want them to hear. In other words, be helpful, not salesy.

So here are a couple tips to help kickstart your 2019 marketing strategy:

Don’t market like it’s last year, or even last month. Marketing trends change quickly. Your goals and objectives tend to stay relatively static (increase sales, launch new product/service, maintain foothold, expand region, etc.), but the best practices and channels change. This is largely due to ongoing innovation and saturation of previously high-performing channels and strategies. So keep an ear to the ground for new developments, and as yet untapped opportunities.

Don’t fall into the trap of simply looking at a peer’s online presence to see what they’re doing. Their strategy might be working for them but it most likely won’t for you. Your target market, products, services, and messaging are unique, so your approach should be too.

Remember that successful business marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. One-off marketing activities rarely, if ever have lasting positive results. Good marketing is strategic, yet agile. Create content that adheres to a common theme and then create and stick to a consistent publishing schedule. But, as mentioned before, keep one ear to the ground and be prepared to make shifts in media and message when appropriate.

Resist the urge to set it and forget it. Throwing stuff out there, hoping something sticks is not a marketing plan. Marketing needs to come full circle, and that means gaining an understanding of what’s working and what’s not. For your website and search, nothing beats Google Analytics and Search Console. And every email marketing and social platform has its own native analytics, so there’s no excuse for not having at least a basic understanding of the results of your efforts. This data will help you determine your path forward, so you can do more of what’s working and less of what’s not.

Be aware your website is (still) the hub of your online presence. You own that space, so make it a space you’re proud to call home and invite others to come visit often. Make it inviting and easy to navigate. Figure out the top three reasons people come to your site (eg. contact info, pricing, and service details) and ensure that those details are displayed prominently and/or easy to access from your home page. Guide visitors through your site with calls to action and use an interactive chatbot(s) to be the visitors’ first point of contact. More on chatbots in an upcoming post.

Keeping up with marketing trends and innovation is not easy, but even making some small changes using inspiration from this and other Truss Marketing posts can make a big difference. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, uninspired, or just plain uninterested in managing your marketing, contact us to discuss your needs. Whether it’s a marketing consultation, training, or ongoing management, we can help you establish a more consistent, effective online presence.