It’s never been easier to start and grow a business. That’s both good news and bad news.
The internet has deconstructed the traditional barriers to entry that have kept entrepreneurs from launching their own companies. This has led to incredible innovation over the past two decades, but it’s also led to an exponential increase in competition.
With lower costs and minimal friction to get up and running, starting a business has less risk attached to it than ever before. People are more willing to throw an idea against the wall and see if it works. And the result is noise…lots of noise!
If you want your brand to stand out, you have to cut through this noise. Not by being the loudest voice, but by becoming the most compelling. And in this regard, organic marketing is the answer.
What is Organic Marketing?
While most businesses view all online marketing in the same bucket, there are really two separate categories. You have paid marketing and organic marketing. Both play a role in building a brand, but it’s the latter category that’s key to standing out in crowded online markets.
Paid marketing works, but it’s forced. It’s also artificially inflated, which means as soon as you stop paying for ads, promotion, and impressions, the exposure goes away. It’s an expensive way to do business; one that’s further complicated by the fact that you’re forced to bid against the competition (who likely have deeper pockets).
Organic marketing, on the other hand, is natural and sustainable. It requires no paid ads and depends on genuine exposure and engagement. The primary objective of organic marketing is to establish a strong emotional connection with your customers. This is done through a combination of content mediums and engagement platforms (including blogs and social media).
When done well, organic marketing puts your brand on the radar and helps build a loyal following that can be retargeted in the future to drive revenue and grow the business at scale.
How to Generate Results With Organic Marketing
If a PPC ad campaign is designed to produce a short and immediate burst of traffic, an organic strategy is intended to be slow, steady, and stable. Think of it like building a house. A lot of work goes into the foundation before there’s any noticeable progress from above. However, if you’re going to construct a house worth living in, you need a sturdy foundation beneath your feet.
Those looking for a get-rich-quick scheme for scaling a business in a few short weeks will be severely disappointed by organic marketing. However, if you’re willing to practice patience and operate with a long-term view of what it means to build a brand, you’ll find this methodology to be particularly effective.
Here are a few tips to help you generate results with organic online marketing:
- Determine Who You Are
A strong organic marketing strategy begins with some deep internal reflection into who your brand is, what makes it unique, and why it’s compelling enough to be heard and believed.
Start with your unique value proposition (UVP). This is a very clear yet concise statement about the benefits you offer your customers. It’s not a slogan or catchphrase, it’s a matter of value. What are you doing to improve the lives of your customers? And how is that different than what other brands in your industry are doing?
You won’t come up with a UVP in a single brainstorming session. This is an all-encompassing explanation of who you are. If it only takes you an hour to zero in on it, this is an indication that your brand is too shallow. It will almost certainly require multiple attempts before you clarify your message. But once you do, everything changes.
- Determine Who Your Audience Is
Once you’re acutely aware of who you are and what you bring to the table, it’s time to shift gears and determine who your audience is. The more specific you can get, the better.
This phase will involve data and analytics, as well as observational analysis. You’ll want to ask and answer questions like:
- How old is my ideal customer?
- What type of personality do they have?
- Is my ideal customer traditional or progressive?
- Introverted or extroverted?
- Tech savvy or tech averse?
- How much discretionary income can they spend each month?
- What are their interests and hobbies?
- What are their primary pain points on a daily basis?
This is just a small sampling. To get a clear picture of your audience, you’ll need to answer dozens of questions like these and then synthesize them into a cohesive profile that describes the intended target of your organic marketing efforts.
- Develop an Impressive Content Library
Armed with an understanding of your brand and the audience you’re attempting to reach, it’s time to connect the two with high-quality, relevant content.
At the heart of organic marketing is the push to add value. You aren’t “hard selling” anyone. You’re adding value to your target customer and naturally positioning your brand as the authority on how to find a better life. And in order to do so, you’ll need a rich library of content.
Every brand needs multiple pieces of “cornerstone” content. These are high-quality, in-depth pieces of content that speak to your audience’s biggest pain points. They’re informative and engaging (not sales copy). Take the time to create three to five pieces of cornerstone copy that can be shared via social media and used to attract backlinks.
- Build Your Social Presence
Organic marketing and social media are essentially synonymous. It’s hard (if not impossible) to be serious about organic marketing and not leverage social media as a key component of your overarching strategy.
Most brands miss the mark with social media for a few specific reasons:
- They over-sanitize (as an element of reducing risk and protecting the brand) and prevent their UVP and personality from shining through.
- They don’t understand who their followers are and what they want.
- They focus too much on the brand, when customers really only care about themselves.
As you build your social presence, you’ll have to proactively push back on all of these tendencies. Your goal is to be unique, engaging, and genuine.
It’s also important to emphasize quality over quantity. Don’t feel like you need to launch profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, TikTok, and LinkedIn. Instead, find the one or two platforms that your target audience uses the most and invest in quality engagement in these places.
- Personify Through Video
Written content will always be a foundational pillar of building a digital brand, but it’s hard to fully engage and connect with people if they can’t see your face and hear your voice. This is where video comes into play.
Video content has the power to totally transform your business by personifying your brand and making it more relatable. (It’s also true that visual content is easier for the brain to process and results in higher recall and more positive associations.)
According to one survey, 52 percent of industry-leading marketers say video has better ROI than any other type of content. That’s because people view ads, but they engage with video.
When producing video as part of an organic marketing strategy, the objective should be to add value (not sell). And the way you add value is by telling a story that your audience can connect to. This requires creating an effective narrative arc that people relate to and remember.
Not sure what your videos should be about? Try taking your cornerstone content topics and turning each section of these posts into videos that are three to five minutes in length. Then, keep an eye on the comment sections in the video and create more videos based on the relevant questions people ask.
- Empower Evangelists
You only have so much time and internal resources. High-impact brands are able to generate massive results by offloading some of the burden of marketing onto their raving fans – i.e. brand evangelists.
Brand evangelists are true fans. They are a minority of your followers, but they’re the ones you should be catering to. Not only are they more likely to purchase from you, but they also have a willingness to broadcast their positive experiences with your brand to their own networks.
A few good evangelists will do much of your heavy lifting for you. They’ll spread positive news, defend you from attacks, and provide additional exposure for your products and services.
Start by identifying who your evangelists are. From there, you should nurture and empower them. Make them feel appreciated and they’re more likely to continue offering organic support for the brand.
Building a Brand That Lasts
It’s easy to get caught up in the here and now. We live in a culture where we expect to see results right away. But in today’s highly competitive world of business, results don’t always happen on a predictable timeline. If you want to build a brand that lasts, you need to shift your focus to organic marketing. It’ll require some patience on your part, but consistency will yield results.