No-nonsense digital marketing for small businesses
Odette Barry is one of those total gems in business – fun, quirky and oh-so-intelligent – its easy to lose hours talking with her about all things digital marketing (as my right-hand woman for all things web copy and social strategy, we often do).
After packing her family up and relocating from Melbourne to Byron Bay, Odette fast realised that to really thrive in this idyllic part of the world, you need to create your own luck. In March 2017, Odette & Co was born. I was lucky enough to start working with her not long after this, and have engaged her help for everything from web copy through to blogging and social media management.
At every step of the journey, I’ve been really impressed with her professionalism, but also the efficacy of what she does and how it can drive a genuine return on investment (see case study). It makes a nice change in a world where promises can be big and results murky.
Odette walks the walk with her business – as is evident from her slick digital marketing presence – and her business is thriving. So what’s her approach?
Start by defining your goals
Before you begin any digital marketing for your small business, Odette recommends asking yourself: ‘What are you trying to achieve?’.
“Every lever available to you in digital marketing is going to have a different output for your business. It’s important to start by understanding your goals—you might be seeking to build brand awareness, drive sales, or simply foster a community.” Odette says.
In the digital marketing landscape, the most popular channels are:
Facebook has an extraordinary user base, which means a big potential audience for your business. The ability to access paid advertising that can target by granular demographic segmentation is a big plus. Less favourable is the effort it takes to extract any organic (i.e. non-paid) reach through unpaid content. As an aside to this, having a Facebook presence can also be a significant driver of traffic to your website.
Great for broadening your network at a lower cost—you have the ability to reach a lot of people through hashtags and location tags so it’s easy to find new audiences. It’s a great place to show off visual brands and tell stories using a visual medium. It works for both products and services as it offers the opportunity to sell services in creative ways. Don’t forget Instagram stories either - a massive new space for brands to tell more authentic stories and give audiences a glimpse behind the scenes of their brand (they are so popular that a lot of users now don’t even bother to scroll down their newsfeed).
The go-to channel for professional positioning and to be seen as a thought leader in your space—it’s the perfect place for networking and demonstrating your credibility. Caveat: it is a platform where you need to be online and regularly engaging with the community in order for your content to be seen.
Owned by Google, YouTube is essentially a massive search engine. Your content on FB or Insta only has a shelf life of 24–48 hours before it gets scrolled past and never seen again. With the right keywords, those keywords will keep bringing traffic to that video for the lifetime of the video. It’s a very good space for brands that want to tell stories or brands that want to show audiences how to do things—there’s a big place for ‘DIY’-type content.
Back to those goals. Ambition and an abundance of ideas are great, but trying to do too many things can lead to overwhelm. As a rule of thumb try to skinny it down to a maximum of three goals and drive your activity towards achieving those. Having a narrow focus helps ensure you concentrate your resources to greatest effect.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor will building a tribe of genuine people who value your brand and potentially throw some business your way.
For organic social media strategy it’s not unusual for it to take three to six months before expecting to see substantial results. For paid advertising (Google ads, Facebook ads, etc), it’s reasonable to have a shorter timeframe—say one to three months.
Odette suggests that businesses need to be more patient when judging the efficacy of social media.
“We’ve found that a lot of businesses will invest heavily in a strategy, but then take their foot off the gas just at the point it was starting to create impact. This often means that they will start to see results just after abandoning their social strategy, which is really problematic—it creates the false impression that they are getting these great results without the social media efforts, not because of. What they miss is the fact that they are reaping the benefits of the equity and trust they have built in the market over the past few months”.
Come out of that shell…
Putting yourself and your business ‘out there’ on social media can be excruciating. Social media is personal in nature, as it can feel like an extension of yourself and your brand. The vulnerability we feel at the feedback and critique is real. The key is having a measure on how much you are willing to expose and how suitable it is to your objectives.
For the brave among us, there is real value to be gained by bringing your personality to your social media efforts. In the case of Instagram, Odette tell us: “The scary reality is that the algorithms have changed so much, they almost force you to be extremely honest and vulnerable and awkward and weird so that people start talking! If you are beige and safe and without colour or emotion or real conversation, your content won’t drive a whole lot of engagement, and if you aren’t getting engagement then you aren’t getting eyeballs.”
Know when to call in the pro’s
Outsourcing digital marketing can seem expensive to small businesses with a limited budget, but what factors demonstrate that it may be a good investment?
The answer is when you understand the value of social media for your business and you can see how it will get a return on investment. “People can DIY in the beginning when their business is growing slowly, but when the hustle really kicks in then their time will be better spent on revenue driving in their business.” Odette says.
“Yes, it can be expensive, but it should be a revenue-driving activity so there should be cost benefits. As a general rule, you should have a spare $1000 plus per month to invest” she advises.
And if we let our efforts slide?
At Amadeus Brand, we’re no stranger to falling off the digital marketing wagon from time to time. What was Odette’s advice for those who have, despite best intentions, let their efforts slide? “It’s the same as falling off any wagon—just dust yourself off and get back on. Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill, but if you feel the need, then share with your followers why you’ve been MIA. After all, it’s those real and authentic conversations that create connection”. Noted!
Above all else
When we asked Odette for some final thoughts, she was quick to respond. “Be more human. Social is social, it’s about connecting humans with other humans; don’t stick to a schedule or strategy if you don’t feel the human element.”
“And don’t subscribe to bots or weird activity with no purpose—the goal is to connect with real people and build your community”.