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Chips Ahoy, or homemade chocolate chip cookies?

I’m hoping you chose homemade. Unless, like myself, you’re an awful baker. Then I understand.

When it comes to quality, it’s hard to justify the assortment of dusty, crumbly discs that lay within the Chips Ahoy carton. On the other hand — when made properly — homemade cookies have the potential to bring you as close to a religious experience as a 12-gram pastry possibly can.

We’re here to explain some ways to help your digital marketing strategy be a little more homemade and a little less factory-formed. Here’s our breakdown of the best ways to avoid cookie-cutter digital marketing.

Know Your Brand, And Wield It

You can’t sell a product if you don’t know what it is.

The trick is, you have to know what you’re selling. Whether you’re running a high-staff company or selling homemade crafts on Etsy, you likely have a good understanding of what it is you’re selling to your customer. You probably know your product inside and out.

But in digital marketing, you aren’t just selling your product. You have to sell your business first. In all likelihood, a larger portion of the effort behind your digital marketing strategy is going to be placed on selling your business rather than your product.

Here’s why: out of all the tactics used in digital marketing — paid advertising, search engine optimization, social media, email campaigns — only a couple of them are going to have the primary job of selling your actual product to the end-customer, with the most obvious example being your website. Once a visitor stops by your website, it is then the website’s job to make the sale. But it’s the job of all those other tactics to get visitors to your site in the first place.

This is why we say you must know your brand, and wield it. Your brand is your business’ biggest unique selling proposition; it’s what sets your advertising apart from everyone else’s advertising. Your brand needs to be conveyed, integrated, and optimized across your digital marketing tactics.

It’s because of this that businesses need rock-solid brand foundations. You need to know what you stand for, why you stand for it, and how your business enacts those tenets on a daily basis. Your brand identity isn’t just for internal morale and wishful thinking. If done right, a smart and thorough brand manifests across your marketing materials — both print and digital — to create stronger marketing campaigns and more customers.

If your brand is cookie-cutter, your marketing will be too. And it is going to affect sales.

Flank Your Competition With Content

For some hyper-specific businesses, getting a foothold in the market is fairly straightforward. When you don’t have a ton of competition, simple press releases and commonplace marketing tactics might get the job sufficiently done.

It’s a lot tougher for those trying to break into more popular market niches. Businessmen and women who want to find footing in fields like health and lifestyle, self-improvement, beauty supplies, or e-commerce (just to name a few) are going to struggle — god forbid you are trying to start an app. The first few pages of Google are a cross-industry bottleneck, and there are millions of professionals trying to force their way in.

To fight back, businesses need an alternate route to attention. One of the most effective methods is through content. Whether it’s articles, videos, infographics, or presentations, content can be the supplementary digital marketing tactic you need to push your name out in front of your competition.

The key to content is to make it trustworthy and valuable to either your target customers or your industry peers. Often times, your content doesn’t even have to directly relate to what you’re trying to advertise. As long as you can present useful, honest information with authority, the content is valuable.

More than anything, content provides a way for the end-user to differentiate your business from the competition through the assertion of your humanity. Content is your opportunity to showcase some creativity and personality outside of promotional channels. You can write an article in your own voice, not the voice of your business.

With good content, an end-user can find themselves identifying with you as a person in a way that rarely happens with a brand. This is how you outflank your competition. Put your individuality on display through your content, and the customers will recognize it.

Own Your Limitations

Apart from a vague brand identity, one of the most commons errors found in digital marketing is inefficient resource allocation. AKA, people spend too much and waste too much time.

If you’re a small business owner seeking growth, the internet is an amazing platform for you to find it. Unfortunately, businessmen and women who are not digital marketing savvy attempt to combat their own inexperience by simply throwing as much time or money at their digital marketing campaigns and hoping it sticks. That doesn’t work.

When that happens, we end up with a digital advertising space flooded with unoriginal, generic advertising methods that not only overcrowd the market space but turn away customers for everybody. People shopping online are smarter and fewer patient shoppers than anywhere else. They won’t tolerate lazy marketing, and when they’re hit with yet another “6 Ways To Improve Your Kitchen” article, they flat out leave the marketplace altogether.

So, what route is there to take for businesses who can’t afford to learn the ins and outs of digital marketing? Simple: cut your budget.

Don’t allocate more money for digital marketing; work with less, and you’ll be forced to use the money wisely. Cookie-cutter digital marketing is barely effective on a large scale, so a reduced budget is going to be aggressively unhelpful to your business.

With a smaller budget, you can allocate funds to the aspect of digital marketing that will improve your business the most in the short-term. Break down what your business needs are today, and begin to build out a focused digital marketing strategy that will have an impact tomorrow.

Does your website look like it was made in 2009? GIve it a revamp. Are your social media accounts active and effective? Start reaching out. Are you trying to grow your brand’s recognition and become a thought-leader in your industry? Start creating valuable SEO blog posts for traction.

All of these tactics are valuable to a business, but simply dumping finances into them and moving on isn’t going to net you nearly as much return as a focused, deliberate, and engaged effort on a singular improvement.

Target As Specifically As Possible

You know how businesses are always told to “find their niche”? In digital marketing, you need to find your niche’s niche.

Digital marketing becomes cookie-cutter when it’s crafted and executed to appease the lowest common denominator. It’s sole, shallow focus is engagement at all costs, and in the long run, it costs your business time and money. It ends up being the vanilla ice cream of advertising — and not even Ben & Jerry’s. We’re talking store brand.

If you want scalable results, don’t market with vanilla ice cream. Localize your campaign strategies and target the audience you know will give you the most conversions.

Consider the same tactic in the direct marketing sphere. Not every business needs a billboard. If your audience is smaller, harder to reach, or only active in certain locations and destinations online, there’s no reason for you to advertise anywhere else.

Too many people advertise on a generalized, wide-breadth scale because they don’t know any better. In reality, the places you make the most out of your digital marketing aren’t going to be the largest, but the most concentrated.
Conclusion

All the tactics we’ve listed here aren’t just applicable to your digital marketing strategy. When implemented, they manifest across your business practices, from production and sales to employee interactions and culture.

Good digital marketing is the fruition of brand utilization, localized strategies, and confident execution. Know who you are, demonstrate why that’s valuable, and own the lane you carve for yourself.

Don’t allow your online presence to become just another cheaply made, mass-produced box of cookies in the aisle of online advertising. Make it custom to your needs and abilities; that’s hope you get something with homemade quality.

Mix Up Your Strategy

Looking for more help? Contact us today — we can start talking about what digital marketing approach is best for your business.