So, you followed your dreams and opened up your own business—or are responsible for continuing the success of one. That can be intimidating, especially for a small business with limited marketing resources. But like it or not, marketing is fundamental to both short-term and long-term success. The good news is, there are several inexpensive and effective ways to reach your prospects and retain your customers.
1. Clarify Your Brand Message
Your brand is your promise. That promise needs to be articulated clearly and fulfilled consistently. Many small businesses focus on themselves, their operations or their expertise in their messaging, when what potential customers are interested in is what you can do for them.
Define who your potential customers are and create “personas” for each target customer. With these personas, anticipate their goals and position your product or service to help them achieve those goals. When defining your brand, develop a brand story in as few words as possible—create a positioning statement, elevator speech or tagline that can be used across all marketing communications, informal conversations and phone calls.
2. Create a Google My Business Account
Listings are free and are a must for any small business. Google prides itself on being the searcher’s friend, and their algorithms are constantly being updated to provide the most relevant local results to any Google search. Creating a Google My Business account will ensure your business shows up on Google Maps as well.
3. Use Social Media Wisely
That means thinking through the strengths of each platform and determining how your product or service aligns with each platform. Choose one or two platforms and build a calendar of possible content you can share that would be considered useful or valuable (or worth sharing) to your prospects. Be consistent with your postings. Always monitor your channels for comments, and respond in a timely manner. This shows you care and are interested in what your prospects think.
Also, consider running ads on Facebook or Instagram, as they can be very targeted and, therefore, inexpensive. This allows you to reach out to prospective customers instead of waiting for them to find your website or social channel.
4. Build an Email List
If you promise and deliver specials, promotions, insider information, tips and tricks or other content deemed as helpful to your customers, they will be more likely to subscribe. Email campaigns can help drive repeat business and customer loyalty if used expeditiously. For businesses with fewer than 2000 subscribers, MailChimp offers its services for free. Emma is another relatively inexpensive service that also offers e-newsletter templates.
5. Consider Search Engine Marketing
Paid Search on Google Adwords or Bing reaches prospects when they are actively searching for a product or service like yours, and therefore may be very close to purchasing. It could be just a matter of where or which brand they purchase. You bid on terms and phrases that describe your offering. The trick is to make sure the terms you elect to bid on are found in your website content; otherwise you will pay too much for the term and you will lose a potential customer when they don’t find content that is relevant to their search. Because you only pay when a prospect clicks on your ad, this can be a very inexpensive way to reach out to prospects as well. Just make sure you have activated tagging and goal setting through Google Analytics, so you can see where your traffic is coming from and if they convert.
These tactics are just the beginning, but they provide a solid foundation for marketing your small business. If you would like some help, J.O. has assisted numerous small businesses establish themselves in the minds of their prospects and navigate their way through marketing opportunities, whether it be through branding, digital and social marketing or public relations.
No matter what, always remember that the experience your customer has with your product or service is the most important factor in determining whether you retain your customers and whether they will influence others through their brand advocacy. So, do everything you can to make every customer experience outstanding.
J.O., a 21-year-old woman-owned agency, can be reached at 817-335-0100.