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From Billboards to Browsers: The Small Business Guide to Digital Marketing


by Francis Rodino

January 29, 2024

From Billboards to Browsers: The Small Business Guide to Digital Marketing

In a world where the only constant is change, the evolution from traditional to digital marketing stands as a testament to adaptation and progress. For small businesses, particularly in trades and home services, understanding this shift is crucial for thriving in today’s market.

The Evolution from Phone Books to Google Ads: A Marketing Revolution

Gone are the days when phone books were the go-to for finding local services. In their place, digital platforms have risen, offering new channels and opportunities for marketing. This transformation, however, hasn’t altered the core essence of marketing: it’s always been about the message and its amplification.

Marketing’s fundamental objective has always been about broadcasting your message effectively. In the past, traditional ads served this purpose. Now, digital equivalents have taken the stage: Google Ads mimic traditional ads, social media parallels radio’s reach, and YouTube offers a modern take on TV broadcasting.

Unlike traditional marketing, digital marketing requires a robust understanding and use of technology. Tools and platforms have become more sophisticated, necessitating a technical skill set to navigate this new landscape effectively.

Expanded Role of Marketing for Small Businesses

For small businesses, especially those in trades and home services, the evolution of marketing has opened new avenues to connect with customers at every stage of their journey. Unlike large corporations with dedicated marketing teams, small businesses often take on these roles themselves, making it essential to understand how to leverage marketing throughout the customer journey.

The digital era has transformed the marketing landscape, enabling small businesses to guide customers through all seven steps of their journey – from initial awareness to long-term loyalty. This level of involvement was less feasible in the traditional marketing era, where the focus was mainly on awareness and engagement.

The Seven Steps of the Customer Journey for Small Businesses

  • Awareness: Using digital tools to introduce your business to potential customers.
  • Consideration: Providing valuable information and building trust through your online presence.
  • Conversion: Converting interest into sales with effective online strategies.
  • Retention: Keeping customers engaged and interested in your services.
  • Advocacy: Encouraging satisfied customers to share their positive experiences.
  • Loyalty: Building strong relationships to ensure repeat business.
  • Growth: Expanding your customer base through referrals and a strong online reputation.

Key Digital Marketing Challenges for Small Businesses and How to Overcome Them

In today’s ever-evolving digital landscape, small businesses, especially those in trades and home services, encounter a range of unique challenges in digital marketing. The effectiveness of their online marketing strategies hinges on understanding and overcoming these obstacles. Here, we explore these challenges in detail and outline strategies for small businesses to navigate this complex terrain successfully.

1. Lack of Marketing Budget

The Challenge: Small businesses often operate with limited resources, which can restrict their ability to fund extensive digital marketing campaigns.

Strategies to Overcome:

  • Emphasise Cost-Effective Strategies: Focus on organic growth methods like SEO, content marketing, and leveraging social media platforms to build brand awareness without significant financial investment.
  • Utilise Free Tools: Make the most of free digital marketing tools and platforms for analytics, content creation, and social media management to maximise visibility.
  • Track ROI Diligently: Regularly monitor the return on investment for each marketing activity. This helps in understanding which strategies yield the best results, allowing for more informed budget allocation.

2. Inconsistent Marketing Efforts and Delays in Content Delivery

The Challenge: Balancing the demands of running a business with consistent digital marketing efforts can be challenging, often leading to sporadic marketing activities and delays in content delivery.

Strategies to Overcome:

  • Create a Content Calendar: Develop a realistic content schedule that aligns with your business capabilities and audience engagement patterns.
  • Automate and Schedule: Use digital tools to schedule posts and content in advance. Automation in email marketing and social media can save significant time.
  • Consider Outsourcing: Hiring freelance content creators or part-time marketers can help maintain a steady flow of marketing activities without overburdening internal resources.

3. The DIY Approach

The Challenge: Attempting to manage all aspects of digital marketing in-house can often lead to suboptimal outcomes due to a lack of specialised knowledge.

Strategies to Overcome:

  • Identify Areas for Professional Help: Recognize aspects like SEO or PPC advertising where expert intervention can make a significant difference.
  • Invest in Skill Development: Encourage and facilitate online learning and training for you and your team in key digital marketing areas.
  • Leverage Online Resources: Utilise the wealth of free and paid online resources, courses, and webinars to enhance in-house digital marketing skills.

4. Content Creation Challenges

The Challenge: Consistently producing high-quality, engaging content can be resource-intensive and requires a blend of creativity and marketing savvy.

Strategies to Overcome:

  • Repurpose and Diversify Content: Turn existing content into different formats to maximise reach and efficiency. For example, a blog post can be transformed into an infographic, a podcast episode, or a series of social media posts.
  • Encourage User-Generated Content: Foster a community around your brand that encourages customers to share their experiences, which can be showcased on your platforms.
  • Collaborate for Content: Partner with influencers, local businesses, or industry experts to co-create content, broadening your reach and adding credibility to your brand.

5. Limited Digital Marketing Knowledge

The Challenge: Many small business owners lack comprehensive knowledge in the rapidly changing field of digital marketing.

Strategies to Overcome:

  • Continuous Learning: Stay updated on digital marketing trends and algorithm changes through webinars, online courses, and industry blogs.
  • Network and Collaborate: Join local business groups, online forums, or communities where you can share knowledge and learn from peers.
  • Seek Professional Guidance: Short-term consulting with digital marketing professionals can provide foundational guidance and customised strategies.

6. Difficulty Identifying the Target Audience

The Challenge: Understanding the specific needs, preferences, and behaviours of the target audience can be elusive, leading to inefficient marketing strategies.

Strategies to Overcome:

  • Conduct Thorough Market Research: Utilise surveys, feedback forms, and social media engagement to gather direct insights from your audience.
  • Use Analytics Tools: Implement tools to track customer behaviour and preferences on your website and social media platforms.
  • Develop Buyer Personas: Create detailed profiles of your ideal customers based on collected data to guide your marketing strategies.

7. Poor Digital Presence

The Challenge: For many small businesses, establishing a strong and effective online presence is a daunting task due to lack of expertise.

Strategies to Overcome:

  • Professional Website Design: Invest in a user-friendly, professionally designed website that reflects your brand’s ethos.
  • Active Social Media Engagement: Regularly update your social media profiles and engage with your audience to build a strong online community.
  • Consistent Brand Representation: Ensure your brand message and values are consistently represented across all digital platforms.

8. Finding the Right Talent

The Challenge: Recruiting individuals with the right digital marketing skills and fitting into the small business culture can be challenging.

Strategies to Overcome:

  • Look for Versatile Skills: Seek candidates with a broad skill set in digital marketing who can adapt to various roles.
  • Offer Competitive Benefits: While salary might be a constraint, consider offering flexible working hours, remote work options, and opportunities for professional growth.
  • Leverage Internship Programs: Collaborate with educational institutions for internship programs, which can be a win-win for both students seeking experience and businesses needing fresh talent.

9. Measuring ROI

The Challenge: Effectively measuring the return on investment for digital marketing efforts to ensure they contribute positively to the bottom line.

Strategies to Overcome:

  • Set Clear Goals and KPIs: Define what success looks like for your campaigns, whether it’s increasing website traffic, generating leads, or boosting sales.
  • Utilise Analytics Tools: Implement tools like Google Analytics to track the performance of your website and marketing campaigns.
  • Regular Review and Adjustment: Continuously review campaign performance and be ready to pivot strategies based on the data to maximise ROI.

Embrace the Future of Digital Marketing with Lead Hero AI

In the intricate dance of digital marketing, small businesses face numerous challenges, but they’re not insurmountable. Lead Hero AI stands as a beacon of innovation, offering AI-powered marketing automation designed to streamline your efforts and magnify your impact. Imagine harnessing the power of AI to not only meet but exceed your digital marketing goals, turning challenges into triumphs, and prospects into loyal customers.

Don’t let the hurdles of digital marketing slow your business growth. Schedule a demo with Lead Hero AI today and discover how our SalesBoost AI™ System can transform your approach, 3X your conversions, and catapult your business ahead of the competition. It’s time to unlock your full digital potential and let Lead Hero AI be your guide in this journey.

Schedule Your Lead Hero AI Demo Now and step into the realm of effortless, AI-driven digital marketing success.

Curious to know More? Book a FREE, no-obligation strategy call and let's see if we can help you automate, accelerate and grow your business!

About the author 

Francis Rodino

Francis has spent over two decades launching global digital marketing campaigns and delivering ROI for some of the world's best-known brands. From the BBC to Fifa, Playstation and Virgin, in 2018 Francis set out to make a bigger impact helping established small businesses and entrepreneurs harness marketing technology and cutting-edge digital strategies to increase sales, gain greater control and free up their time grow a business that runs itself.