5 Tips for Small, Emerging Brands to Grab the Spotlight

By aiwpadminJanuary 27, 2016

By Kieran O’Brien Kern.

The promise of the Internet is that every voice and every brand big or small has equal time and chance to connect with the consumer. The reality is quite a different story.

“Despite the promise of a level playing field, strong brands have a huge advantage over smaller companies in the digital space,” says Jim McKinley, principal of online marketing agency 360Partners. McKinley will share insights for gaining and maintaining the spotlight from his 17 years working in digital marketing in the LeadsCon workshop “How to Compete Against Brand Giants in the Online Marketing World.”

While big companies have the advantage, McKinley offers the following steps small and emerging companies can take to maintain a foothold:

#1 Have the right expectations


I see a lot of companies that base their growth plans on discovering a “magic bean” in digital marketing. Magic beans do not exist. It is important to model out realistic customer acquisition costs (CAC) in your marketing plan.


#2 Build it right


One challenge we see for emerging companies is that the need for speed can trump everything else. As a result, marketing campaigns built like “spaghetti code” – campaigns are not structured for growth, data and insight [are[ very difficult to gain, and optimizations are hard to do. Take the time to think through how your structure and build your accounts initially and it will pay dividends later on.


#3 Implement a CRM


Even from the start, I highly encourage small or emerging businesses to implement a CRM system so they can understand the source of good and poor quality leads. With it, you can optimize and bet on the things that are driving sales. Without it, you are “bowling from behind a blanket” and have to resort to making decisions on gut rather than data.


#4 Remove friction


We define friction as anything that gets between your prospective customer and them taking the action you want them to take. Friction can be a wide range of things such ad copy that doesn’t match a search query, dropping a user on the wrong page on your website, a burdensome lead form, etc. Regularly go through your customer experience and ask “what can we do to make this process easier for the user?”


#5 Don’t become stale


This is a common issue we see. Your account or campaign has been running for a couple of months. The initial excitement of launch is over and the person or team managing it gets into a pattern of optimizing things as data comes in. While this is good, it can lead to staleness. It is important to constantly challenge your digital team to continually bring new ideas to the table. One effective tactic that we like at 360Partners is to carve out 10 percent to 15 percent of the total digital budget for testing new tactics, channels, ads, keywords, etc. The money can only be spent on things we are not currently doing. If the experiment works, then it is rolled into the mainline spending. If not, it is shut down, and a new experiment is tried.

In addition to the ideas above, McKinley encourages companies to “do fewer things and do them well.” Make an effort to understand the buyer’s journey, concerns and where they look for answers before testing or implementing anything. He explains that primary research is helpful but if resources are limited, going through a whiteboard exercise with your team is more effective than just “testing a bunch of stuff.” Think through which channels/tactics might be effective and run small tests. “Quickly shut down the tests that don’t perform and double down on those that do,” McKinley advises.

With the proliferation of new channels, there is lot more company information on the Internet. “I encourage folks to manage these channels as more and more customers, investors, partners and potential employees are using these to research you,” he notes.

While big companies have the budgets and bandwidth for widespread saturation, small and emerging companies shouldn’t count themselves out. With a well thought-out strategy and execution, they have the opportunity to not only grab the spotlight but stay there.

Click here to register for LeadsCon Las Vegas 2016.

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