Marketing in the Sarasota and Manatee area is competitive. After at least eight years of working 60-80 hour weeks developing my marketing craft, spinning up multiple teams, and managing all sorts of marketing budgets, I am applying it all to this quick and comprehensive guide for any business in the Sarasota-Manatee area.
- Start with Expert Marketing Philosophies
- Build Your Marketing Machine
- Study, Study, Study
- Marketing Tips Specifically for Local Businesses in the Sarasota Manatee Area
- Marketing Tips Specifically for National/International Businesses in the Sarasota Manatee Area
Start with Expert Marketing Philosophies
Human brains and the internet value things with the highest quality. Maybe even somewhat more in the Sarasota-Manatee area—depending on your target audience. Here is how to get the most out of the time and money you’ll spend on your marketing and sales campaigns.
- Give people what they’re looking for—even before they know they were looking for it. A lot of times people will be looking for the best deals on charcoal before they’re ready to buy a nice propane grill and outdoor kitchen. Don’t ignore them. Give them a list of the best value charcoals ranked from first to last. Maybe if you help them out enough they’ll click to another page on your website to start window shopping for the latest FlameMaster 6000 Outdoor Kitchen Dinette Set that you’re going to be running a special on next month.
- Be authentic. Stop using stock photos and trying to make your videos look like everyone else’s. You have a $600 camera-phone glued to your hand half the day. Use it for something productive and inviting.
- Research everything. You need to stand out from competition, not try to catch up with them. Build content around things people are actually interested in, not just the boring stuff that takes up your time putting it together for them. You can Google stuff and even use Google’s Keyword Planner to get facts about this stuff.
- Tell interesting stories. They’re better than interesting information. For a lot of reasons. Do it everywhere.
- Know the rules so you know when, where, and which rules to break. Can you cuss once on your Facebook posts? Maybe for angsty teens. Do you want a long four-word brand name? Not if you’re selling to seniors already exhausted from trying to keep their brains in shape.
I promise you that these are most of the core philosophies I use to hit our marks every single time.
The only other one I thought about adding here is “Don’t be lazy,” but that should go without saying. If the thing you build doesn’t work well at first, do more research and try more things until you get it right.
Everything falls into place quicker and better when you’re building things this way. It won’t be automatic at first, so don’t expect too much from one-trick marketing people.
Build Your Marketing Machine
Step 1 – Build the Baseline.
Here are what I currently consider the baseline marketing must-haves for any small to medium-sized business in the Sarasota-Manatee area. They are in order of importance:
A First Class Experience
Make sure they get what they want in a way that is more pleasant than anywhere else. Their experience starts the moment they hear about your brand, and even before that. The experience lasts as long as possible after their purchase. Surprise them if you can.
People are customers even if they aren’t a paying one yet. Get as much information as you can and use it as smartly as possible.
This could be company name, product/service names, or both. A unique brand name is best.
Consistent Brand Voice
Your logo and colors aren’t nearly as important as the way you communicate in person, over the phone, and in all your marketing content and materials. Your brand voice reflects a lot of things about the way you do business. It is the secret encrypted code that tells people what they can expect from you.
I am more interested in simple websites that sparkly ones–even for a more affluent Sarasota or Manatee county audience. Make it easy for visitors to find the thing they are looking for. You’re making it easy as possible for them to give you money. And this is the basis for strong SEO.
Your Google reviews are very important for social clout. People trust what Google says. It is also now a place to post fresh content and updates. If people ever walk into your place of business in Sarasota or Manatee counties, you’ll want a great Google listing on maps with a lot of visibility built up over time.
Your Facebook page shows how human your business is. Like Google, it is also a platform for reaching customers in Sarasota and Bradenton with paid ads.
Email marketing is free to start and more effective for direct sales than almost any other medium. It’s free to start, and should be part of your customer database.
Text marketing is also very cheap. Don’t spam. Be smart.
Stratified content is layered content that connects messages from medium-to-medium, and changes the delivery from audience-to-audience. It also is layered for different phases of the customer buying process (customer experience).
Step 2 – Plug it all into each other.
Your Google account should have analytics and tags set up on your website, and track visitors from search, Facebook, business cards, and everywhere else. Facebook also offers this type of tracking. Both their ad platforms plug in as well. Email and text marketing can be captured on website and social media. Your mailer flyers and billboards should have message and brand voice continuity throughout all channels including digital ones.
Step 3 – Research campaigns, test them, and amplify.
Do some research into your different audiences. Your messaging should be as specific for as many different audiences as possible to convert them at the highest rates and get the most return on your investment.
Digital is great because you can spend as much or as little as you want, but it’s the best because it gives you almost instant data about how well received the content is performing for that audience.
If people love something you posted and they actually become customers (or closer to buying) then amplify that message with more content and/or ad spending. It can be more ads, more interviews, more blogs, or more billboards, etc.
Study, Study, Study
My rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t expect anything you build to last more than two years. This goes for websites, ads, messaging, etc.
Even more than technology, peoples expectations change rapidly. In the Sarasota-Manatee area, things move even faster because of the money facilitating its progress.
Website layouts, standards, and technologies change all the time. Some stuff is trendy and not even worth keeping in your marketing mix. Study what is working, replace or update what is not.
Don’t Fight Them, Ride The Waves
Ads should always be replaced. Ad fatigue sets in very quickly in today’s world. If you are more active than your competitors then you can edge them out and take their audience and clientele. It might classically take 7 impressions for a person to recall your brand or product, but that is also when fatigue for one ad sets in. The ROI on running $1000 again on the same ad to the same people is far less than spending $500 in ad spend and $2,000 to develop a new ad for half the same audience. When done well.
The best part about studying your marketing and what the experts are doing is not just the added revenue and lowered costs. It is the audience feedback that will tell you how to treat customers, do your business, what to make next, and how to make deeper connections for lifetime value to your business.
Note: The baseline outlined above is the mandatory minimum.
Some businesses should have elegant business cards, others don’t need them, and even others should have coupon cards instead. I’m also very big on Reddit and NextDoor platforms right now (you can pay to advertise on both, too). LinkeIn is more for B2B, but it doesn’t hurt to at least have a personal page on there updating on your professional journey as an owner or manager. Some companies should spend all the rest of their time and money on conventions.
Your specific machine depends on your audiences and your budget/cash flow management. Whatever you do, you need to embed my marketing philosophies into all of it.
Marketing in Sarasota Manatee – Tips Specifically for Local Businesses in the Sarasota Manatee Area
- Understand the diversity and neighborhoods of the Sarasota-Manatee area. There are artists on the island, and liberals in Lakewood Ranch. There are retired blue collars downtown and devout Christians all over.
- It costs about $800 to sponsor a Little League Baseball team. It shows you support your community, and the perks like extra signage and Facebook/Sarasota Herald-Tribune/Parents’ Instagram updates give you more exposure from trusted, even beloved sources.
- You can get about 40% off for long-term advertising in the local newspaper. Slap a little skybox/ear on the front page every week and you look like a major sponsor all year with 100% visibility everywhere they lie. Could cost about $7,500 for a year’s worth of premium advertising/branding or less with some negotiating with your hungry LOCALiQ sales rep.
- Piggy-back on local organizations’ social media by commenting on posts from the ones citizens love. Cute dog up for adoption on Humane Society of Sarasota County’s page? Reach a piece of their 23,000+ followers by sharing their post to help out. But be authentic. Don’t use them to chase clout. Help them and their audience out in a meaningful way to be associated with the local brands that people love.
- Speaking of making it easy for people to find what they’re looking for before they even realize it, I made a comprehensive list for a great pain physician practice in Lakewood Ranch that actually lists all their top competitors and gives details, contact info, and ratings for them.
The day I got yelled at for promoting other practices I just showed that it is our highest visited page, that converts the most people into patients, for less than $1 per click on Google (healthcare insudstry average cost per click is around $3.13).
And the free/organic SEO traffic is all icing on the cake. And it’s growing.
- Quick fact(s): The average cost across all different types of industries for 1,000 placements is about $14.40. This translates to reaching all ~500,000 of them that are on Facebook 7 times (the classic amount of times needed for someone to remember) for about $50,000 in one year. I call this the “household name” price.
As you narrow your audience by things like age, neighborhood, and affluency the price goes up.
But we are currently reaching a highly targeted, high income audience in the Lakewood Ranch area for $2.37 per 1,000 people at least three times each for $2.37. That means we’re in a highly competitive market in an expensive industry getting a “household name” price of $2,765 instead of $50,000 per year.
Marketing from Sarasota Manatee – Marketing Tips Specifically for National/International Businesses in the Sarasota Manatee Area
- Leverage your cost-of-doing-business savings from low Florida labor costs into your messaging. Just don’t ram it down their throats or flaunt it. B2B buyers/partners outside of the Sarasota-Manatee area will be receptive to this.
- Avoid trite phrasing, but remind your audience how the weather here makes our navels grow, our beef happier, and our employees more happy and productive.
- Your audience here in Sarasota and Bradenton is diverse and interesting. Use feedback from everything you do to identify similar audiences outside.
- Wacky weather means we’re all disaster-ready. Civil engineers here understand the water table, so developers in the mountains regions might be happy to know about an interesting risk assessment that saved a recent client millions of dollars and headaches.
- Our laws here are different, but retirees come from all sorts of grouped pods up north and in the midwest. Find them here, talk to them, and find out what it takes to make them a customer, client, or patient. Interview them and their outrageous Wisconsin accent for a video ad you’re running in Prairie du Chien. Save the travel money and still show authenticity and familiarity they can more easily trust.
Even with solo freelance marketers, the easiest way to save $100 is to pay $100 per hour. Why run a lazy, unresearched, and underdeveloped ad for $500 just to get $600 back in sales? Spend a little more time or money on something that will maximize return rather than save on short term costs.
When you look at a company’s Facebook page or website to do a little research, it’s usually more interesting if they only post interesting stuff. No need to post content frequently if it makes people tune you out. That’s paying people to walk away.
Value is Always More Valuable than Ever.
Everything your marketing efforts do should be thoughtful and work together. It doesn’t matter your budget. Did your commercial rent go up this year? Of course it did. Do you have well developed content from last year still making you dividends to offset these rising costs?
Does your Facebook page have a shiny new service or partnership you’re super excited about but your website still shows you’re selling COVID masks that everyone wants to forget about?
These questions are my conclusion because I want you to go back and think about how important the philosophies behind your marketing are. I want you to read them again and truly think about them. At least ask your marketing person/people for tactical ways to apply them to what you’re already working with.
Deep Diving Not High-diving
If you want more in-depth information about SEO, Facebook Ads, or anything else, you can look at other pages on our website. It’s basically an expert marketing library. We even have performance marketing case studies that are completely candid and revealing about our techniques and accomplishments.
There is money here on the Sunset Coast. And there are all sorts of different walks of life to target. The cost of real estate here is incredible, but the cost of thoughtfulness, research, analytics, and creativity remains relatively the same. And the value of them are higher than ever.
Marketing Terms Explained
Google Search Ads
Google Remarketing Ads
YouTube Remarketing Ads
Facebook Remarketing Ads
Customer Acquisition Cost
Online Marketing/Digital Marketing
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
SSL/TLS Website Security Certificate
Pay Per Click (PPC)
Cost Per Impression (CPM)
Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)
Customer Lifetime Value (LTV)