4 marketing pillars to build a business as strong as the Parthenon
Dating back to Ancient Greece and Egypt, monumental structures have relied on the strength of stone pillars, working together to support an immense amount of weight and pressure.
Over the past 2,500 years, the Parthenon has been rocked by earthquakes, blown up by exploding gunpowder, and suffered severe fire damage, yet it and its pillars still stand today.
The way we apply digital and online marketing to a business is no different. Every business should be built upon the same principle, using a plethora of marketing pillars to uphold the pressure of its success, and together produce significant results.
Every day I encounter many businesses that have one pillar, and in simpler words, put all their eggs in one basket. When the one pillar they have relied so heavily on comes crashing down, they can find themselves in a hard free fall to the ground. For example, if 10 years ago a business’ only pillar was a Yellow Pages ad, they would have lost their only method of reaching new customers and growing their market share once consumers stopped opening the phone book for information.
Think about it — when was the last time you used the phone book for anything?
There is a clear and significant risk of having one or two pillars, which is why I recommend the Parthenon approach.
Here are four of the many marketing pillars businesses should use to build a solid foundation:
Search engine optimization
Earning top rankings in natural organic Google search is still one of the best ways to grow a business. However, many business owners think content is king when it isn’t. Right now, Google has indexed over 60 trillion web pages, and we all know that when we do a search, we pick from the top few. When a consumer is searching for your product or service, it is crucial that your business cuts through the clutter of now 130 trillion web pages to end up among the first few results. If done right, SEO can be your greatest profit generator.
How do you get your business there? One tactic is to write 2,500 words of unique and compelling text and check it with copyscape.com to make sure the content is truly unique. Your main keywords should be inserted 19 times, as inserting it more than that could be considered “keyword stuffing,” and your website could be sent for human review and a potential penalty. Include different variations of your main keywords such as plurals and singulars into the mixture, as well as variant names for your product. For example, a laptop and notebook computer could be considered to be the same type of computer. However, we want to sell to potential customers who use both keyword variations.
The use of latent semantic language lets Google find relationships between those keywords and the ones in the search query. For example, if you are selling golf clubs then the words driver, iron, and putter are related. Also, include brands like Taylor Made and Callaway. Consumer testimonials are also a great method to include keywords and organically improve Google ranking.
Search engine marketing
Increasing your online visibility through paid opportunities is key to reaching potential customers. While it may take a while to earn Google’s trust through SEO, search engine marketing can be turned on fairly quickly. With SEM, businesses pay to play and are relevant, while maintaining full control of speed and budget. SEM allows you to target your prospective customers through search engines such as Google, Bing, and AOL.
Say you are a contractor and can only handle three projects at a time. SEM can run until the three projects are scheduled, be turned off and then turned back on when one of the projects is complete — allowing you to turn the volume up or down as preferred.
SEM also allows you to run AB testing on coupons and special offers — this is cross-pillar optimization. Let’s say you test different offers and one of them did very well and resonated with your audience; you can now also use it with SEO, social media, print media, etc., knowing that the data you collected means something and will provide results.
Paid social media ads
People are inherently social and are seeking online relationships with the brands they use. While it’s great to build your business’ social presence, social media is great for advertising your product or service where you know your consumers will be paying attention.
When consumers search for a product or service their intention to purchase is clear, but their reason behind it is not. Social media advertising allows you to target your customers based on location and demographic, minimizing the amount of marketing time spent where your consumer base is not present. For example, if you open a nail salon in downtown Toronto, you can choose to target women of any specific age, and within a certain radius — to provide a special offer or invite for them.
Major social media players include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and LinkedIn. But social media is not one-size-fits-all, so it is important to determine which social media channels work best for your organization and the nature of your business. Keep in mind that consumers visit each platform with different goals and mindsets (i.e., Facebook for socializing with friends and LinkedIn to search for jobs).
Having a branded YouTube channel for a business can be a powerful marketing pillar as many consumers go to YouTube to search for information about a company and to gain a better understanding of the product or service they offer by seeing it in action.
The most powerful YouTube videos explain the benefit of the product or service your business offers, and oftentimes include customer testimonials. Word-of-mouth continues to be one of the most effective ways to grow a business, as people put immense trust in the stories of those who had a positive — or negative — experience with a business.
YouTube videos can be easily integrated with SEO and SEM, and can be embedded on your social media channels or websites for better results. It is highly recommended that your YouTube channel, as well as any other forms of marketing, match your organization’s brand.
These are only four of the many marketing pillars a business can use to build a solid foundation. As businesses try to keep up with the fast change in consumer behavior and trends, these marketing pillars will continue to evolve.
Digital and online marketing pillars are meant to interrelate and support each other just like the Parthenon. Business owners and marketers must ensure each of these are given equal focus, attention, and importance, and that they are working well both independently and collaboratively. The moment trends change and consumer behaviors follow, businesses must re-evaluate and come up with a similar Parthenon approach to fit their present needs.
Scott Wilson is the founder and CEO of RankHigher.ca, a Burlington, Ont.-based digital marketing and SEO firm. He is considered Canada’s leading speaker on SEO, web sales, internet marketing, and social media ROI.
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