These days, the most effective medium to maximise your marketing dollars is by using the web. Online based marketing campaigns can be cheap – if not free – and have the potential to be far more effective than any traditional marketing. Here is a few tips to assist you in marketing your business, whilst still minimising the damage to your bank balance.
1. You’re not a big company, you need sales now.
Large, established companies have the luxury to embark on broad, costly marketing campaigns. Small businesses don’t, its that simple. Small businesses need to be sales driven and constantly drive traffic and cash flow, things a small business will struggle and fail without. Seth Godin is always talking about how the fear of failed marketing being a huge barrier to a businesses success as startups cripple themselves with stalled marketing trying to get it ‘perfect’- and he is right. Remember, a failed campaign is forgotten, but a campaign that resonates with your customers will be remembered. Get your message out there, be clever and pro-active about your marketing technique, but do it NOW.
2. Social media is your friend.
Social media has become the new best friend of the lean marketer. With the rise of social media in society, platforms such as Facebook and Twitter now offer countless opportunity to access new customers.
Disclaimer: to succeed with social media, serious effort is required.
Social media accounts require a substantial investment of time and creativity for success, especially around developing a connection with your audience. Drive exposure and draw your customers in using a non-intrusive manner, but remember a badly managed presence can often do more harm than good, reflecting poorly on both product and company. Finally, remember that not all your potential customers will use social media – so ensure your spread your marketing spend wider into additional areas.
3. Provide incentives for return business.
A key to business success is feet through the door, so providing your customers a reason to return is imperative. For example, take your last trip to the movies. You bought a ticket and received a discount for popcorn and coke available on your next visit. One simple move has doubled that cinemas chance at gaining your return business. Whether using loyalty cards, discounts or other incentives, developing a means to encourage customers to return will not only increase sales, but will encourage customers to develop a stronger connection with your business.
Warning: be careful not to devalue your product resulting in customers becoming accustomed to the lower prices. Discounts and vouchers are effective, but don’t let your customers come to expect a lower price.
4. Use new media.
In our digital age, the cornerstone of most marketing campaigns has now become an effective website. When developing this foundation, keep in mind that there is value in carefully written web content, but high quality video can often be a far more engaging medium. Online audiences are becoming more and more accustomed to dynamic content and from a business perspective, without the costs associated with TV advertising, online video its not only cheap but extremely effective. The key? Video as a medium is only as good as its message. Videos should be informative, but much like social media, it HAS to be creative and entertaining enough to engage and hold its audience with something memorable.
5. Let Google help you.
Finally, possibly one of the most powerful utilities available to small businesses is Google. They offer a suite of free tools to enable businesses to connect with their audience.
First step: place your business on Google Maps. Google Places enables companies to add themselves, resulting in a public listing that will aid your customers in finding you. Your second step is watching your audience. A free service, Google Analytics provides information on how people reach your website, how they use it and how they become customers. This information is a business gold mine when creating your marketing strategy. Step Three? Understand how you are regarded, and respond appropriately. Google Alerts allows you to monitor the web for any reference made about your company (or your competitors). With dozens of other tools, its a wise investment looking at Googles range and discover what you can use to help your business.
The internet is an important channel to reach your customers, no matter which competitive marketplace your operate in. Remember, a small business can be much faster at adapting to market conditions – so make agility and speed your advantage over your competitors.