indicatorSales and Marketing

Smart marketing strategies to grow your business

By ATB Financial 5 October 2020 4 min read

As your business matures, so should your marketing strategy.

It’s one of the pillars of your company structure that should continue to evolve and expand, reflecting the growth of your business and the attention you’d like to attract from existing and new customers.

From building community to displaying authenticity to harnessing social media, various ways of bolstering your marketing plans should be considered to effectively engage with your audience.


Business marketing and evolving self-education

“Always Be Learning” might not be as catchy as a slogan for entrepreneurs as the ABC of “Always Be Closing” for the fictional salesmen in Glengarry Glen Ross, but its value is just as useful for those responsible for marketing strategies.

“You always have to be learning in marketing,” says John Pieri, vice-president of marketing, brand, at ATB. “It’s less about having the perfect plan and more about taking time to build it, and execute it and mix in some level of experimentation.”

He goes on to say you should anchor your focus on understanding your customers, to start: who are they, what are their unmet needs, which media habits do they enjoy, who they look to as influencers, etc.

Marketers have to be constantly vigilant of changing trends in how customers are engaging with brands, Pieri notes, so that means reading and tracking the online channels that appeal most to your customers.

“That way, you can ask yourself ‘Is this social channel aligned to my target persona?’” says Pieri.


Social media marketing is here to stay

There is little value in being a generalist or trying to market your business to every single audience. Rather, marketing is evolving more and more into a specialist model. Lean into this specialization in order to find the audience in a more targeted way, Pieri says.

For example, if you’re focusing more on a consumer market, then marketing on Facebook and Instagram could work for your brand, while B2B companies might want to post frequently on Twitter and LinkedIn, Pieri suggests.

What about organic reach versus paid reach? Does it make sense for a business to dive right into paid ads on channels such as Facebook?

“It’s ideal to build your audience organically first,” Pieri advises. “If you advertise too early, your audience might head to your channels and pages but they might not find a lot of meat there.”

It shouldn’t be a one-way conversation on social, as this Forbes interview notes. “The most important thing about social media is that it’s not just about you! Social media is not a monologue where you tell the world about the awards you’ve won, or the special deals on your products and services. It’s an opportunity for you to connect, in a meaningful way, with the people who have helped you and supported you in business.”


Be an honest and transparent brand

Authenticity matters to a brand’s customer base, asserts Pieri. “You have to ask yourself first what is your purpose as a business, and what promise are you making to the marketplace? If your brand’s tone and personality doesn’t come from a place of authenticity, your marketing plans are actually going to be rudderless.”

After all, 91 per cent of consumers are more likely to buy from an authentic brand than from a dishonest brand, so your customers really want you to walk the talk.

If your marketing strategy involves holding conversations with customers, upholding values forming the foundation of your business and being honest about any transgressions, then you’ll be on the right path to brand authenticity.

For example, if you’re a restaurant that had to close for whatever reason, you should make that announcement as transparent as possible online. Or if there are recalls of your product, you shouldn’t wait for the media to report it but instead be proactive and alert your customers as soon as possible.


Put the unity in community

Get on the same page with everyone in your business about how you want to invest in your community, says Pieri. “To build that level of trust with your audience, you have to give more to your community than you take,” he adds.

That kind of engagement could include, say, assisting frontline workers during a crisis such as the coronavirus pandemic, or launching a second store in your community to bring more jobs to that region.

At ATB, Pieri recalls how the 2008 recession caused a credit crunch that hurt many Alberta businesses. “It was hard for anyone to get capital, and whether you were a client of ATB’s or not, our door was always open for no-strings-attached conversations on our opinions on the future of your business, the chances of getting funding, which government programs may be helpful, and much more.”

What matters in the end is recognizing what works for your business because there’s no magic bullet or one-size-fits-all solution. If you understand and adapt to evolving market trends, then your customer engagement practices will be well positioned to help your business thrive.

If you’re looking for a deep dive on everything you need to know around how to grow your business, our ATB X Accelerator program might be just the place for you. Alternatively, feel free to reach out to one of our entrepreneur strategists to explore where you are with your business, where you want to be, and how to get there!

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