The success of your business is determined by attracting more customers, and having them come back. Small business is the backbone of economies — and you know you need to look after your back! Whether you own a bakery or a finance business, you need no-nonsense marketing strategies to secure a greater share of the market. Empower yourself to apply clever marketing plans and ideas without breaking the bank, or your back.
You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to be a good marketer. But neither is there a silver bullet or one-size-fits-all solution. Every small business is different — the marketing plan and tactics for a mortgage broker are entirely different from those of a computer reseller. However, the process of building a plan, sticking to it and applying the time and resources it needs is the common secret to success in marketing.Here are few tips to help you be brilliant at marketing:
Get the know-how. Knowing what not to do when it comes to marketing is as important as knowing what to do. Let’s face it, the murky world of marketing can be tricky to navigate. So get the full know-how before you go jumping into building that flash website.
Put your customers first. Understanding who your customers are, what makes them tick and what they really want and value, and of course staying in touch with them long after the sale, puts you ahead of the competition.
Know your target market. ‘Anyone who is breathing’ is not a target market! Targeting your marketing activities fairly and squarely at the people who need and want your service or product is the secret to creating quality enquiries and getting prospects to open their wallet.
Understand that marketing is not advertising. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that advertising and websites are the only two ways to attract more business. You can market your small business in literally hundreds of ways, so it pays to know what they are and then eliminate the ones that won’t work, or that you can’t afford, up-front.
Set sales goals and targets. Marketing really is a numbers game. Marketing efforts that won’t directly or indirectly bring in new business have absolutely no point. Know what your goals are in terms of revenue, expenses, profit, number of enquiries and, of course, number of new sales.
Get a handle on the four Ps of marketing. Getting your product, pricing, placement strategy (distribution) and promotional strategy humming along and working together is crucial to good marketing.
If you’re armed with the marketing essentials you can’t help but succeed in attracting new prospects and bringing in more business. Spend some time on getting your marketing toolkit in place and be prepared at all times.
Here are a few items to pack into your marketing toolkit:
A plan and a budget: Getting a plan that will support you for years to come is essential to keep you on track. It doesn’t need to be as thick as War and Peace, but it does need to be written down, clearly communicated to your team and acted on day by day — even when business is booming.
A great product or service: Advertising your business has no point if the customers don’t want, value or love what you have to offer. Make sure you do your research and listen to your customers before sending your product out to the market.
A professional brand: A brand is much more than a logo. It encompasses everything people see, hear, think and feel about your business. Invest up-front in developing a brand that stands out from the crowd. It’ll save you money and heartache in the long run.
Powerful marketing materials: Your business card, sales brochures, sales letters, website, signage, uniforms and car decal speak volumes about your business. Make sure they look professional and appealing at all times.
An elevator pitch: In the course of marketing your business you’ll get asked thousands of times ‘What do you do?’ Don’t make the mistake of boring the poor person who asked the question. Make sure you have a fun, interesting and memorable pitch ready at all times — and be able to deliver it in the time it takes to travel a few floors in an elevator.
A brilliant website: Your website must attract attention and give value to those who visit. Use it as a tool to retain and keep in touch with existing customers as well as for enticing new customers. The online world can be very scary to many small-business owners, but, if you don’t embrace it, you may find yourself out of business.
A simple database: The backbone of all good marketing is about building a solid database of past, present and future customers (prospects) so you can keep in touch and communicate regularly via e-newsletters, emails and phone.
You don’t need to spend buckets of money on marketing. Creativity and a bit of gumption to do something different from everyone else in the market can be the difference between business success and business failure.
Here are just a few of hundreds of ideas to market your business:
Attend networking events. It’s not what you know, but who you know. Get out there and network — meet and greet. You can never have too many friends in life, even if they don’t end up as customers.
Sponsor a local event or charity. It really does make you feel good to support your community, and everyone benefits — you, your staff, your customers, the people you sponsor and, of course, the community at large.
Manage your public relations. Getting your name up in lights on TV and radio, and in newspapers and magazines isn’t as hard as you think — if you’ve got a story worth telling!
Use social media. Using social-networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, producing your own videos for YouTube or writing your own blog are creative methods of letting people know about you and your business. Go on, have a bit of fun.
Host seminars and events. Hosting your own events and inviting along your best customers and some of their friends is a great way to get to know people, connect at a personal level and build deep relationships.
Become a public speaker. If speaking isn’t your number-one fear after death, hone your skills and become a great and entertaining speaker. It’s a fabulous way to demonstrate your expertise and generate new business enquiries from the audience.
Most small-business owners, especially those starting out, don’t have lots of money to spend on marketing. While the old adage — you need to spend money to make money — is true, you can still generate new business without having to dole out big bucks.
Try a few of these tactics for a start:
Focus on relationship-building marketing strategies such as networking, building alliances with other businesses, and calling old customers, friends and people you once worked with.
Find people who are prepared to help you with marketing on a commission basis or a uni student who’s studying marketing and might need some hands-on experience.
Develop a marketing mastermind group with other small-business owners for the purpose of sharing low-cost marketing ideas and referring each other business.
Sharpen your own online marketing skills and learn how to use Google AdWords and write blogs, and market yourself on the social media sites.
Promote your business on free online directories and publish your articles on other websites with links to your site.