A new year means new opportunities for your business. New customers, growth and expansion are just a few of the goals you may have, but how can you position your company to achieve them? Regardless of your industry, there are always going to be competing businesses vying for the eyes and pocket book of your target audience. This means your efforts should be focused on getting in front of your customers and prospects as much as possible so that you are the first company that comes to mind each time a need arises. Achieving this status may seem like a fruitless practice if you’re starting from scratch, but it’s actually more attainable than you think. If improving lead generation and building better brand awareness is top of mind for you in the new year, take a look at our list of 10 ways to differentiate your business in 2020.
1. Start a Podcast
When done correctly, a podcast can be one of the most effective ways for members of your team to establish themselves as thought leaders in your industry. As you venture into the ever-growing world of podcasting, it’s important to remember that the goal of this practice is to provide a valuable resource for your target audience. Your team knows their business better than anyone, so use that knowledge to provide answers to the most common questions you see rather than just discussing random topics. Whether you record a short episode of 10-20 minutes or longer than an hour, having people from your team consistently sharing their knowledge and experience is the key.
2. Record Live Videos
Much like a podcast, live videos are a great way for your business to communicate to its target audience while also encouraging engagement. There are a plethora of different streaming software options available that would allow you to broadcast your video directly on your website, however the easiest way to record live video is through Facebook. Assuming you already have an established following on Facebook, the use of live streaming allows you to discuss a topic of interest that’s relative to your target audience. With comments available on every Facebook Live segment, you will also be able to answer any comments or questions to engage with your followers during the recording.
3. Reinvest in Your Customers
Obviously every company welcomes the opportunity for new business, but it should not come at the expense of your current customers. Maintaining and continuing to grow those relationships you already have is equally as important. There’s no better source to provide a recommendation for your business than those you have already worked alongside. Kick-off the new year with a hand-written note or a face-to-face interaction with your customers to reinforce your commitment and promote a continued relationship.
4. Become a Thought Leader
In recent years, thought leadership has gone from a trendy buzzword to a legitimate tool to build business and better personalize brands. A marketing strategy that focuses on establishing yourself as an expert in your field through thought leadership rather than overtly pushing a product can help your business soar to new heights in 2020. Speaking engagements, media interviews and a strong social media presence are just a few of the ways that you can elevate your thought leadership. There will still be opportunities for your business to promote its services or products, but this practice will allow you to build trust and recognition with your target audience.
5. Start a Blog
Content marketing is your company’s tool to build your brand, generate leads and separate yourself from the ever-expanding pool of other businesses, and no content marketing strategy is complete without a well-published blog. When it comes to utilizing a blog to differentiate your firm, search engine optimization, or SEO, is your most effective tool. By including distinct keywords and phrases in all of your blog posts, your business will ultimately achieve a higher ranking on search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo. With proper planning, a blog can be one of your company’s most rewarding practices in 2020.
6. Identify and Share Your Stories
Showcasing your expertise in your respective field is obviously important for your business, but storytelling should not be overlooked in the process. Identifying and telling your company’s stories allows you to share important information like how your company came to be, what motivates and drives your team members and how they are making a difference in their local community. This practice is less about selling your services and more about building rapport and trust with your target audience with the use of engaging content. Storytelling is more casual and conversational, lest it be interpreted as just another sales pitch.
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7. Update Your Website
In preparation for a meeting, it’s likely that you’ve searched for someone online or via Facebook that you were getting ready to meet for the first time. The same is true for your business and its customers. Along with your social media channels, your website is likely to be your first impression to a new prospect. As the hub for your business, your website should include background information about your company and team members, any relevant content that you’ve produced and updated contact information for customers to reach you. Storytelling definitely comes into play here, as you’ll want to balance your company history and product/service offerings alongside other content of interest that showcases your level of expertise such as published blogs, news articles, media releases, etc.
8. Conduct an SEO Audit
An SEO audit is arguably the most influential way to differentiate your business this year. All of the content that you have produced or will produce is useless if it doesn’t reach your target audience. An SEO audit is essentially a report card for your website, grading it based on its ability to show up in search engine results. An extensive SEO audit will reveal the strengths and weaknesses of your company’s website, allowing you to compare yourself to your competitors, determine any changes that need to be made and adjust your data accordingly.
Giving back to a nonprofit or local organization is a rewarding experience for your entire team and it’s a great way to show investment in your community. Is your company actively involved in any volunteering or pro bono services? If so, why are you doing it? Every business can choose to give money or volunteer hours, but the real differentiating factor is identifying the why behind what you are doing. If you plan to initiate philanthropic efforts as a part of your 2020 goals, make sure you’re backing it up with a clear vision. Being more purposeful about your giving will not only prove to be more impactful to your clients and peers, but it will encourage your team members to become leaders of the company’s mission.
10. Social Media Strategy
As we all know, social media has completely engulfed our personal and professional lives. If your company doesn’t have a social media strategy that is engaging, consistent and planned, there’s no better time than the top of a new year to get started. Whether your business is active on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or any other social media platform, review what you’re doing and how you’re engaging with your target audience. Analyzing what worked and what didn’t work in 2019 will bring to light any changes you need to make in the new year, as well as any practices that should be repeated. Key factors you will want to note during your content audit should include the tone, overall message and whether or not its leading customers or prospects to action. Once you’ve gathered all the information you’ll be more equipped to start building a successful content marketing plan.