You have taken that leap, made lots of important business decisions about the day-to-day running of your small business, and now need to think about marketing. So, where do you start? How do you do it as cost effectively as possible? These marketing tools and tips will hopefully help you to answer these questions.
Your brand image is one of the most important marketing tools for your business. It will communicate your message effectively, and (potential) clients will immediately see if their requirements match your business. It really can make you stand out from the competition, so think very carefully about the impression you want to make.
Think about your brand values. For example, is your brand honest, reliable, cheap or luxurious? Brand values will form the basis of your message and an emotional response from the buyer. They need to trust the product/service, know what it does for them and have a favourable reaction when they hear or see the brand.
Manage your brand assets carefully to ensure consistency across all media platforms. This will not only strengthen your visual identity, it will also improve your marketing efforts and professional image.
There is that magic word again; you must plan. The old adage, ‘fail to plan, plan to fail’, should become your mantra in business. Planning is one of the key tools for marketing your small business and you should not ignore it.
Who are your potential customers, and what helps them make a buying decision? Your market research is imperative at this stage. Plan your promotions based on any seasonality that your business has.
As we know, marketing can be expensive, so ensure you do not waste precious resources by marketing somewhere your potential customers are unlikely to look.
Email marketing has become one of the most cost effective marketing tools. If you offer a ‘sign up’ button on your website, those who want regular updates on your business can get them. Newsletters should be regular; it can become an effective means of communicating with your customers when there is something important to say. In your newsletters, tell your customers about new products or services that you are introducing, or special offers.
Although newsletters can be a really useful marketing tool, be mindful not to email too often with non-relevant content. This will only put them off and your customers are likely to unsubscribe.
You will have invested in your website, so make sure you utilise it. Have links to your social media, make sure it is easy to navigate and keep the content fresh and relevant.
Make sure your contact details are visible on every page. Also, have a contact form so people can put details of their enquiry on there, and importantly, be prompt in responding to these.
Social media is a very versatile tool. There is a large range of platforms now available, including: Facebook, Instagram; LinkedIn; Twitter; YouTube and so on. Pick the platform where you know your target market will be. While these methods may be free in terms of money, they can cost you a lot of time, so you need to make sure that is worthwhile.
Again, be consistent, but do not try to outright sell; the clue is in the word ‘social’ media. This is a great platform for them to get to understand your brand.
Use it not just to talk to your target market, but to also research them. Find out what they are saying. What do they want? What do they say about your competition?
As with all marketing, test and measure. Do not waste time on something that does not work for you.
Whilst social media is a great form of networking, we believe it should complement physical networking, not replace it. Yes, it will cost you money, but test and measure the return on investment so you can justify the cost.
Business may not happen overnight, you will need to be consistent and build up rapport with those you meet. Remember, these people then, figuratively, become your sales team. You never know who they know that will need your products or services.
Testimonials are an excellent tool for marketing. Make sure you promote these on your website, do not be shy! Take complements and use them (asking permission of course). People listen to other people, so using quotes from your customers can encourage others to buy from you.
If you want to be in an expensive publication, look to do this in partnership with other businesses that complement your business. For example, a wedding dress business could do a joint advertisement with businesses that sell wedding cakes, car hire, venues, printers, or catering businesses, etc. This way, you can share the cost of an advertisement.
Develop a good relationship with your local press, you never know where it may lead! However, make sure the press release you send is not blatant advertising. Make it appealing by thinking about the news aspect and the human interest side that will capture the imagination of people.
A useful tip for PR as a tool for marketing is to always try to send a good quality picture with your story, as this gets more attention. Remember, people like images; this will lead them into reading your story.
You can get further tips for writing your press release here.