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5 Marketing Basics Every Business Owner Should Master

Even if you don’t work in marketing, it’s no secret that the digital world moves so. damn. fast. The digital landscape is in constant flux, and keeping up with the latest trends—what’s in, what’s out, what’s new, and what’s not going anywhere—can be overwhelming.

But hey, for us marketers…that’s our job, right?

The everyday business owner, however, should be less focused on keeping up with the latest-and-greatest trends (that’s what marketing agencies like ours are for), and more focused on mastering a few key marketing basics: how to read data analytics, crafting a compelling story, search engine optimization, social media marketing, and how to preserve the “human touch” in an increasingly robot-run world.

Below, we share some of our most valuable knowledge—the kind of stuff you can only learn over years of living and breathing all things marketing. No generic tips here; we’re diving deep and giving you some real, actionable, tried-and-true strategies that will up-level your marketing game, and your bottom line.

Use Data Analytics and Insights to Drive Your Marketing Strategy

When it comes to digital marketing, there is no shortage of data to analyze. Knowing how to navigate this maze of data—and how to draw actionable insights—is key.

One of the most-used analytics platforms is Google Analytics. You can use Google Analytics to gain a deep understanding of how people are finding and using your website, landing pages, or apps. The Google Analytics Academy offers a series of courses that will show you how to create an account, analyze basic reports, set up goals, and track your campaigns.

Likewise, the Meta Business Suite offers a free lesson in using Insights to understand how your posts are performing, track key trends, and gain a deeper understanding of your Facebook and Instagram audiences.

It’s worth spending some time learning how to read, understand, and apply data analytics to your marketing strategy. You’ll be able to better interpret consumer behavior, decode website traffic, and optimize social media campaigns based on real-time performance metrics. No more guesswork—just solid strategies that drive results.

Content Marketing and Storytelling: Crafting Narratives that Resonate

Content is king, but not all content is created equal. Some content is, well, boring. And sales-y. And just…ugh. You need to craft compelling narratives—not content, but narratives—that will resonate with your audience on an emotional level.

“Our widget is the fastest widget on the market,” is boring and cliché.

“Our widget saved Client X more than an hour a day, which meant he could actually start leaving the office on time, make it to more of his daughter’s dance recitals, and enjoy dinner with his family every night.”  Now, that’s a way better story: it doesn’t just promote the time-saving features of a product or service, but it explains how that product or service positively impacted someone’s life.

It connects the features of a product or service with the benefit it offers the end user.

To connect the features of your product or service with the benefits it offers your target audience, we suggest using a tool called a “message map.” A message map will not only help you get clear on the benefits of your product or service, but will also help you keep your messaging consistent while upholding your brand’s image and values.

how to craft a message map

To craft your message map, follow these 3 easy steps:

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Define your target audience(s): start with basic demographics, job title, what motivates and frustrates them, what are their goals, what do they care about, etc. Create a unique message map for each target audience.

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What problem does your product or service solve?

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How, specifically, does your product or service solve your target audience’s problems? What features make it so effective?

In developing your message map, make sure you analyze your competition so you can differentiate yourself through storytelling!

Then, using your message map, create content that shows your target audience how your product or service could benefit their life, and repurpose that story across a variety of distribution channels: blogs, videos, infographics, social media posts, stories and reels, etc.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a game-changer in the world of digital marketing. Learning the fundamentals of SEO and understanding how to optimize your website content to improve search engine rankings is great knowledge to have!

Before we get into the details, we want to be clear: SEO takes time, energy, and consistency. Nothing you do at the foundational level is going to get you the top spot in Google overnight. In fact, nothing happens overnight in the world of SEO. However, these 6 tips—over time—will help you attract more organic traffic to your website (just make sure you have a killer website designed to convert…otherwise, all the SEO in the world isn’t going to help you increase sales).

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Do your SEO keyword research

Using a keyword research tool like the Moz Keyword Explorer or the Google Keyword Planner, identify 7-10 primary keywords that you’d like to optimize your website for. Choose keywords with high search volume and low competition.

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Optimize your essential on-page SEO elements

Fine-tune your title tags, meta-descriptions, permalinks, headers, page content, and image alt-tags using your selected keywords.

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Create quality content

Don’t use AI to generate content, or—if you DO use AI—make sure to go back in and infuse the content with your own unique thoughts and perspectives. AI can only regurgitate information that already exists, but Google wants to see unique content that asserts your expertise, experience, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.

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Build backlinks

Secure quality backlinks—links from other websites back to your own—to boost your content authority. One easy way to do this is by setting up as many social media profiles as possible (even if you don’t post to them, just having the profiles is helpful for SEO). You can also list your business in relevant online directories, being careful to display your company name and address exactly the same across all listings. Finally, register with Help a Reporter and respond to any inquiries that make sense.

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Make sure your UX is spot on

User experience plays a major role in SEO, and Google takes site speed and performance into heavy consideration when determining rankings. See how your website ranks in Google’s PageSpeed Insights, and resolve whatever technical issues as you can.

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Use Google My Business

Post regular updates with links back to your website, and collect as many reviews as possible.

Social Media Marketing: Building Authentic Connections

Social media marketing isn’t just about posting content; it’s about building authentic connections with your audience. By understanding the basics of social media marketing, you can execute social media strategies that will help you increase brand awareness, stay at the top of your audience’s mind, and forge an emotional connection with your followers. Below are our top tips:

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Set clear goals and know your audience

What are you hoping to achieve via social media marketing? Who are you trying to reach, and why? Having this focus will keep your social media strategy from straying too far from what’s effective.

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Choose the right platforms

Select which social media platforms you’re going to use based on your business type, and where your audience is most active! Almost all businesses should be on Facebook and Instagram, but YouTube, LinkedIn, X, Threads, and TikTok are all highly viable.

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Craft engaging organic content, and consider advertising

Use your message map to drive content generation. Explore social media advertising to expand your reach, and drive lead generation…fast!

Emotional Intelligence and Empathy

We owe a lot to technology for reshaping the way we work. Technology can help us boost efficiency, increase productivity, work remote, and stay at the forefront of innovation. The proliferation of AI has businesses turning to robots for just about everything—even marketing. And yet, while technology has its perks, we cannot forget the irreplaceable impact of human touch.

Sure, technical skills are a must—but there’s something about human connection that machines simply can’t replicate. Our take?

Emotional intelligence and empathy are the secret sauce.

We believe in good, old-fashioned storytelling—understanding what people need, addressing their pain points, and crafting messages that hit the right emotional notes. In today’s tech-dominated landscape, your unique human perspective is the ace up your sleeve, a personal email to a prospective new client is a secret weapon in a sea of automation, and an anecdote will always be more powerful than AI-generated drivel.

Mastering these marketing basics will help set the foundation upon which a strong marketing strategy can be built, and can actually really support the efforts of a digital marketing agency. When the basics are taken care of, your agency can focus on higher-level initiatives that require a more intimate understanding of advanced marketing tools.

Whether you already have these marketing basics dialed in, or are just beginning to learn, we encourage you to follow us on social media, or sign-up for our email list. We are always sharing valuable tips, tricks, and advice designed to help small businesses do more of whatever it is they do.

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Written by Anna Lofstrom

Hi there! My name is Anna and I am a digital marketer & social media strategist. I'm passionate about leveraging the unique power of social media to help businesses thrive. When I'm not working, you can usually find me traveling & exploring new places, enjoying some paddleboarding, going for bike rides, getting lost in a good book, or taking leisurely walks in nature trails/cape cod beaches with my awesome German Shepherd pup.

December 15, 2023

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