Whether you have chosen to sell widgets online, traditional products and services, your expertise or advice, you have taken the leap into providing value.
There’s only one problem. You’ve put so much effort into creating your offering that you haven’t thought much about how to get the word out. Sound familiar?
There is only so much of your time and resources to put into setting up and running a business that it’s no wonder many don’t think too much about marketing. The practice is often misunderstood, and conjures up thoughts of expensive advertising and hiring creative agencies.
With 20+ years’ experience in marketing, market research and journalism behind me, I can assure you nothing could be further from the truth. All you really need is to focus on the right markets and picking one or two clever marketing tactics to set sail.
I have collated all the best marketing tips here that will give your business a jump start.
Tip #1 – Look at your Business From Your Customer’s Perspective
Many businesses start by developing what we want to offer to our customers and then try and find those willing to buy.
Effective marketing turns an “inside-out” approach to an “outside-in” process. Putting on your customer goggles and placing their interests at the heart of everything your business does will offer key insights you may not have considered before.
This comes down to speaking in your customers’ language as well – every email, brochure and offer you may MUST put the “what’s in it for me” from the customer’s perspective at the top of the priority list.
As a small business you have something powerful going for you – you are unique! Forget about the big bucks of brand marketing campaigns, start with your personal brand. Who are you? What do you stand for? How do you connect personally with your audience? Injecting a little of your personality will distinguish you from everyone else in your market, and offer a point of difference that customers can connect with.
Be proud of who you are and what you stand for, and should allow your customers to relate with. It will pay dividends.
Tip #3 – Test and Refine All Campaigns
You should have a fairly clear idea of who your customer is, and where they are. If you don’t, you might need to revisit your overall business plan and test some assumptions you have made by asking the question: “Am I talking to the right people in the right places?”
Most businesses focus their marketing time and resources where the most number of potential customers hang out. It stands to reason. But it also means having multiple campaigns to test and refine whether you are accessing the most number of people you can reach.
Options of marketing campaigns include: Direct mail (letters, postcards, brochure drops), direct email or online methods such as search engine marketing, banner advertising and email marketing.
What works today does not necessarily work tomorrow, so continually monitor what is working, and always ask your customers where they heard of your business.
Tip #4 – Think of your Customers as Prospects
If you have followed the rest of the tips, you will end up converting prospects into customers. Congratulations, your work here is done.
Resting on your laurels is ignoring the biggest source of business growth – thinking of your customers as prospects again will unearth the opportunity of upselling and cross-selling other products or services. If you don’t have other products or services, consider the following options:
- Can your customers buy more of the same product?
- Can you offer a new product or services?
- Can you offer a modified package, different size, version or complementary service?
- Can the customer increase their purchase frequency?
By diversifying products and services in different packages, you can increase your return on marketing investment to existing customers, who already know and trust you.
Tip #5 – Exploit your Online Options
While the Gen-X crowd (myself included) and beyond can still recall a time when half of the business prospects you met didn’t have email addresses, these days if you aren’t online now you simply do not exist.
The internet is not simply an increasingly important marketing and sales tool; it is fast becoming the MOST important one. Consumers are now dictating the terms of business, and they are overwhelmingly voting with their smartphones, online purchases and demand for convenience – anytime, anywhere information and purchasing.
What ‘s more, simply setting up a static website and listing your address, products and services is no longer enough. Even if you are a small business, you simply MUST get engaged online. Blogging, giving advice (yes for free), and amplifying what you have on social channels are essential tactics.
All of this requires “content” marketing – which is simply a fancy marketing term to describe information such as articles, videos, podcasts, blogs, infographics and other endless forms of repackaged ways of delivering your message to various channels and platforms where YOUR audience is engaging.
While content marketing can seem like a bottomless pit, there are some key approaches to getting the most bang for your buck:
- Stay true to your personal brand – your voice should come through every piece of information you add to your online and social channels
- It should be relevant to your audience, but not necessarily new every time… there are countless ways to rehash the same message and make it fresh – have you ever seen memes that find myriad ways of making the same joke new (and funny) again?
- Be a sharer of other peoples’ content – rather than detracting from your message, sharing other content will show you are “in the know” and can be a trusted source of information on your area of expertise
These are just a few key tips to get you started thinking about small business marketing tactics that actually work. In your search to grow a successful business you are likely to come across many more such articles on marketing strategies. My advice is to take what makes sense to you, test and adjust until you find what works for your business.