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Three Steps to Digital Marketing Success In 2024 (Part 1)

Understanding the trends and focusing efforts is key to gaining ground

CHICAGO — It’s difficult to name a field that has evolved as rapidly as that of digital marketing. While many business owners are just getting the hang of email marketing or digital advertising, new technology such as artificial intelligence comes in and changed the landscape.

While it’s difficult for small-business owners to stay current, it’s vital that they put a plan in place to connect with customers, according to Donna Botti, president of Delos, Inc. Botti recently presented a webinar, “Get More Customers and Clients in 2024 with a Digital Marketing Success Plan,” hosted by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).

“We’re hearing from people all the time, ‘We don’t have enough time for marketing — it’s changing too fast,’” Botti says. She warns these people, however, that they can’t afford to sit on the sidelines on this topic.

“Today, our customers are all online,” she says, “and they expect us to provide information and ways to interact online, even if ultimately they’re going to do business with you in person. We’ve all become researchers and love the convenience, and the pandemic really accelerated this.”

Part of mastering digital marketing is to have a plan in place to use resources — money, effort and time, primarily — to their best effect.

“I tell people is just say ‘no’ to random acts of marketing,” she says. “Your random acts of marketing give you random results, at best. The first thing you need to do is to really have a strategy and a plan and focus your efforts on the right things. Otherwise, you’re wasting time.”

Trends for 2024

Before presenting three key action steps small-business owners can take to make the most of their digital marketing efforts, Botti listed five realities that need to be understood to get a clear view of the current state of affairs in this area.

  • It’s getting noisier, and AI is making it worse — “I’ve seen people say, “Give me a prompt — I’m going to put information in and it’s going to create 1,000 pages of content for me,’” Botti says. “It’s not very good content, but you’re competing with the stuff that’s out there.”
  • Advertising is getting more expensive — “Advertising is an auction, especially on social media,” she says. “Because it’s an election year, there’s a lot more people competing and advertising, which drives the cost up for everyone. Another thing to look at is the fluctuation in all the platforms. Twitter has now become X, and they’ve lost a lot of advertisers. As a result of that, one of the things that we’ve noticed is that advertising on LinkedIn, for example, is getting more expensive as people move off of the Twitter platform for advertising to go there.”
  • First-party data is more important than ever — “A lot of tracking that’s done on the web is done with cookies and, in theory, we’re moving to the cookie-less future,” Bott says. “So, reaching the people that you have, and converting people who have already shown an interest in you, is more important than ever. This means really having a good handle on who your customers and your prospects are.”
  • Customers are looking for authenticity and relationships — “One of the things that I always tell people is that, as a small business, you need to think about your marketing as relationship building,” she says, “because people want to do business with people, especially at the local level.
  • Video rules — Video content is especially useful to make it to the top of online algorithms and cut through some of the noise. “Video is really what is getting the most traction everywhere,” Botti says.

Key Action No. 1 — Focus Your Efforts on the Right Clients

Before building campaigns and crafting messages, it’s crucial to understand the target you’re trying to hit.

“As you set your business goals for 2024, what part of your business do you want to grow?” Botti asks. “Where do you want more clients? That is where the majority of your effort on your website, on your search engine content and your social media should be focused. Too often, we’re trying to do everything and we don’t get good results in any of it.”

Botti believes this is the first step to accomplish before going any further.

“Really laser focus on the clients that you want more of, and hence the business that you want more of,” she says. “You’re free to edit your messaging to fit the business that you want to attract, and you’ll get other people along the way, but you don’t have to spend your limited time and effort trying to attract them.”

It’s OK to say “these people aren’t my clients,” Botti says. In fact, it’s essential to your marketing efforts.

“Not everybody is your customer,” she says. “We had a client that we started working with who changed around a bunch of their messaging and content, and the number of calls they got fell significantly. However, the total number of new clients, and the amount of revenue on those calls, increased because it was more of the people who were going to be their clients anyway, and less of the tire kickers. That saves a bunch of time not talking to people who are not right fit.”

If your audience, your message and your product or service are not in alignment, Botti believes, you’re not going to get the results you need.

“Think about the person you’re trying to attract,” she says. “What problems do they have? What is it that they’re most interested in? Does your product address those products? If the message doesn’t speak directly to your audience, they’re going to ignore it.”

Interaction with existing customers can provide valuable clues to dry cleaners who are working to attract similar clients.

“Why did they buy from you?” Botti asks. “Which ones bring you the most rewards, both financially and personally? You have to solve their problems. What are their goals and aspirations? What are their challenges and pain points? Also, use the language that they use, because if you’re not using the language of your customer, it’s not going to resonate with them.”

While there are complexities to digital marketing, defining your target audience doesn’t have to be.

“These are some things that sound obvious,” Botti says, “but if you don’t start with this, everything else you do after that is harder and more random because you’re not actually focusing on the right customer.”

Come back Thursday for Part 2 of this series, where we’ll examine the value of the content you already have, even if you don’t know you have content.

Three Steps to Digital Marketing Success for Dry Cleaners In 2024

(Image licensed by Ingram Image)

Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Dave Davis at [email protected].