Marketing is essential to making a business grow. What strategies really work? What can you do to get customers’ attention and encourage them to do business with you? Most large businesses have a dedicated marketing team with a sizable budget. It’s their job to instigate mega marketing campaigns for products. Small businesses don’t have those resources and often don’t realize there are ways to implement a marketing campaign.
Even on a limited budget, marketing can offer small businesses a healthy return on investment.
What can be done to implement a small business marketing campaign?
There are plenty of ideas out there if you look for them (Hello Google). Take a look at what other companies (large and small) are doing to introduce and promote their products, then modify their marketing tactics to suit your target market and budget.
Here are 10 marketing strategies to help you find new customers and not spend a fortune in the process:
Successful business marketing begins with a creative marketing plan, so it’s advisable you create a marketing plan for your business from the outset.
• Who are your best prospects and how are you going to reach them?
• Where will you find them?
• Are they on social media sites such as Twitter, Google +, Pinterest or Facebook?
• Will you meet them during in-person networking at local business meetings?
• Will they be searching for your type of product or service on Google or Bing?
• When will you start promoting your product or service to them? Will it be at the start of their buying cycle?
• Will it be when they’re ready to make the purchase?
• How to sustain and maintain the existing customers?
• What resources do I need to execute the marketing plan?
These questions are the backbone of your business marketing plan. They will be revised and improved as your business grows.
Testimonials and Feedback
Testimonials, in the form of feedback from your existing customers, prospects and casual acquaintances, are an excellent marketing tool to acquire more leads for your business. Ask your customers if they will give you their positive feedback in the form of a testimonial on how they find your products and services. Find out what you can do to better serve their needs. If a trend starts to appear in their replies, act on it immediately.
Testimonials can go a long way in improving the general perception of your brand and business. Use this feedback on your website.
Give Awesome Customer Service
Smile at customers when you talk to them, even when you’re on the phone. Be polite and answer any questions they may have. Make sure a real person answers the phone whenever possible. If you have to send callers to voice mail, put something in your voice mail recording that lets them know how quickly you will be able to return their call, then do it within the stated time frame.
If you are a service provider, ensure that your customers’ projects are completed on time and within budget. Inform them of any changes, delays or other information they would need to know about. Don’t keep them waiting. Treat your customers and prospects the way you would like to be treated.
Your company website needs to be optimized to improve your visibility and user engagement.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) involves writing pages that use keywords, words people use in searches and securing links from other pages to show how important your page is compared to others. This improves the visibility of your webpage (and the business the webpage presents) on search engines for better positioning in search engine result pages (SERPs). This process leads to more organic traffic to the website.
You don’t have to be an SEO expert before your website sees this organic traffic, but a basic knowledge of SEO is a good thing.
Your website needs to be user friendly. The functionality, as well as the profitability of your website, requires:
• User engagement
• Ease of use
• Accessibility and effective navigation
• Loading speed
Blogging is one of the most effective marketing strategies for a small business. Apart from generating new sales leads, a blog can offer you the following benefits:
Blogging lets your business engage with current and potential customers in a personal voice, which can also help boost customer loyalty. You can talk about the benefits of your product or service in a way that traditional marketing and advertising don’t allow.
Wherever possible, write interesting and relevant content to put on your blog. If your blog carries great content and updated information, it can be extremely effective in bringing you much-needed website/blog traffic.
A blog is a low-cost but very effective and powerful marketing tool. All you need to be a successful blogger is planning, creativity, commitment and something worth saying.
Write Great Content
Put together a feature that shows you’re an expert in your field and submit it to websites/blogs, magazines or newspapers that accept expert submissions. Make sure your name, business name, phone number, website address and a mention of your product or service is included at the end of the feature. If the editor uses the article, your name and contact information should be printed for free as well.
Whenever you are publicized, ask for permission from the publisher to reprint the feature. If you can, obtain a PDF of the feature, print copies and mail them out with sales letters or anything else you use as a marketing tool for your product or service. The publicity adds credibility to your products or services’ claims.
As soon as your business is up-and-running, submit an online and offline press release. Send it out to PR sites such as prweb.com, prnewswire.com and onlineprnews.com. It should introduce your business, its products and services and how it can be of benefit to potential customers. Run your press release offline through news houses and local media.
Admit it; we all love something that’s free. Offering free samples or giveaways is a very effective method of turning prospects into clients. A contest that offers free stuff in return for a testimonial or product review is another effective method of encouraging customers to be active on your website or blog. Try giving something useful away with a purchase over a pre-determined dollar amount.
E-mail is an effective marketing tool that can be used to create more awareness for your small business. Design a signature that includes your business name and contact address (phone and physical address), links to your website, blog and social media platforms for all your e-mails and newsletters. An e-mail signature also gives you the potential to increase awareness for your business and brand.
You may be of the opinion that e-mail marketing has made direct mail a thing of the past, but you would be wrong. When you bring the mail in, take a look at how much of that mail is advertising. You may not respond to direct mail, but many customers do.
Experts in the field of direct mailing say that the key is purchasing qualified leads. What that means is if you sell products that are aimed at senior citizens, sending your mailer to school-agers isn’t the way to go for both your budget and return on investment (ROI).
Send your customers a card or a postcard to remind them of a scheduled appointment. Send sales letters to everyone you think might be able to use your products or services. Make sure you describe your business in terms of the benefits that will help them. Put a business card in every letter you send out. Follow up occasionally with a postcard mailing.
Now make a list of marketing ideas of your own. Feel free to include some of the ideas listed above. Include ideas you’ve used and ideas that you haven’t yet. Add marketing strategies you’ve seen other companies use to your list. When you have made your list, put the ideas into practice one by one. Try one new marketing idea a week. Keep using the ones that work and discard the ideas that don’t. Then get ready to watch your business grow.
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