Marketing is the most common problem that people running or starting small businesses usually ask about since their marketing strategies are not giving them the results they want. Typically, they say something like, “I’ve placed some ads but they just don’t seem to be doing anything.” In other words, what they are doing is not bringing them the customers, clients or sales they desire.
Marketing is more than advertising
Those two terms are not synonymous and ‘placing a few ads’ is never going to draw the kind of business a small business needs to be successful. Marketing is a process, not an event. It involves planning marketing goals and implementing marketing strategies to achieve them.
Now that doesn’t mean marketing must be a complicated process. But it does mean you should know what you want to achieve and get out there and work at it.
Here are six basic marketing strategies you can use to increase your customers and sales:
Target your audience.
Many small businesses don’t run adequately targeted campaigns, despite the fact that targeting is one of online advertising’s primary advantages.
Indeed, you should be able to create an accurate target customer profile based on the data you’ve collected. With this information in hand, and what you know about your current clientele, you can begin to target similar demographics and psycho graphics with your campaigns to attract more customers.
Whether you’re advertising online or off, make sure your copy and imagery reflects the kind of customers you want to work with. This is key to targeting well.
Help yourself by helping others.
All your marketing should be of some use to your audience. There are many ways that you can make your marketing efforts a welcome intrusion rather than an annoyance to your audience. Try these:
Provide useful information. Information marketing has proven to be highly effective in increasing sales. By educating your audience on problems that they care about, you are also not only growing your customer base but also positioning yourself as the solution.
Aid. Answer questions posted on forums and websites and direct your audience to your website for more information. There are online directories that list a whole variety of forums.
Entertain your audience. Make them laugh or cry. Think of the funny and touching ads that you see and how quickly they are shared.
Socialize on social media.
You can’t ignore social media. That’s where all the so-called magic is happening. Some businesses have been built solely on the backs of social media. It can be intimidating at first. Sure. But as you build momentum, you’ll find posting on social media to get easier and easier over time.
Of course, you could also hire a social media manager if you have money to burn. But if you don’t, just be yourself. Be authentic. Post your thoughts. Post your products. Post anything that you find relevant and useful that would help your audience either learn more about you and your business, or about the industry that you’re in.
Use direct messages on platforms like Instagram and even snap chat or Twitter to reach out to other successful businesses or even to communicate with potential customers who might be looking for your products and services. This is very powerful marketing.
Can your customers immediately identify your ads based on your copy, color choice, imagery, logo or typeface? If that question seems absurd, just look at what the major brands and companies are doing. Oftentimes, you can recognize their ads just from the colors they’re using.
Over time, your customers will come to identify with and respond to your ad layouts. The temptation may be to change your branding every time you create a new ad, but that could be confusing and ineffective over the long haul. Your goal should be to show up in expected places, with familiar-looking ads that consistently resonate with your target customers.
Promote free consultation
When it comes to professional services, people want access to expertise. If you have done a good job of positioning yourself as an expert or authority in your niche, promoting a free consultation is a great way to generate new leads. If you have a good interpersonal sales process in place, it also sets you up to close a large percentage of leads.
A lot of service providers worry about disclosing too much info in a free consultation. They feel like potential clients will just take the info and run. In reality, the exact opposite is true. While freeloader types might grab and go, they were never going to buy anyway. The type of people interested in paying for quality will be impressed by the value you provide in the consultation. After all, if you can provide so much value in 30 minutes to an hour, they will believe that your claims are true and that hiring you is the right decision.
This can be used both online and offline. It can be advertised via pamphlets, newspapers, signs, or even word-of-mouth. And it can be prominently displayed on your website and social media channels. This strategy won’t be ideal for every business, but if you offer an expert service or a high-priced service, it is very much worth considering.
Offer Staff Incentives
Referrals are one of the best ways to find new customers, and who better suited to obtain referrals than your current staff? Your employees know your product or service. They know your customer base. Some of them will take initiative without financial motivation, but most won’t, and those you bring in new business should be encouraged to repeat the process with financial or otherwise meaningful reward. Offer incentives to your staff members who refer new clients.
Like any type of compensation, incentives are about matching your business’ goals to the goals of your employees. If you can find out what they want most, you can motivate them to help grow your business.
Hold training sessions and teach your staff how to effectively promote your business, but remember that this form of marketing will only work if they genuinely feel good about your business and are properly motivated to pitch it to friends, family, and acquaintances.
It’s critical for a business to determine what works to reach their audience and convert leads into paying customers.. Not all marketing strategies will work for all businesses. A comprehensive, successful marketing plan will help implement these examples of marketing strategies for your business.