Small business marketing is almost always constrained by resource availability. While everyone agrees that marketing is a vital business strategy, how do you know the best ways to market, not just in terms of money, but in terms of message, strategy and practice? How can you ensure you get the most bang for your buck, especially when your bucks are so precious? Here is a look at a handful of best practices when it comes to effectively marketing your small business.
Swag That Will Get Used
Everybody loves a good promotional product, and everybody mocks a bad one. If you want to put your brand and logo on something, make sure it will be received with gratitude. From promotional bic pens to specially branded sunscreen and water bottles, good swag is easy to come by and unload on your customers and partners — especially if it’s something they already need and use. Be sure to avoid mouse pads, cheesy T-shirts and anything that might make your business look desperate or chintzy.
So much goes into keeping a small business on course on a daily basis that it’s easy to become lax in the marketing department. No matter what else is on your plate, market your business every single day. From a quick social media update to an ongoing major ad campaign, hold your own feet to the marketing fire, and business will come to you.
Use a Diversified Approach
While it may be tempting to put all your eggs in one basket in order to streamline the work and effort of effective marketing, doing so will hinder your efforts. No single medium, whether billboards, Facebook ads, direct mail or television, can reach everybody who needs to know about your product or service. Keep a solid mixture of public relations, social media and financed advertising always running. You’re more likely to reach your targeted demographics, and the variety of means will give them multiple chances to respond. Qualified advertising agencies can help you and your business diversify your approach.
Have a Social Conscience
Cause-related marketing might make an acid-tongued cynic dislike your brand, but to the vast majority of your customers and potential customers, any kind of involvement with charity will be viewed positively and will help promote your company. Cause-related marketing has been shown to increase sales by double digits, and the intangible benefits shouldn’t be underestimated either. Anytime you invest in a cause or outreach that is committed to the work of making your community a safer, more enriching or more just place to live and work, you are helping to create a more sustainable environment in which your own work can thrive.
Tell the Truth
Regardless of what you’re trying to sell or to whom you’re trying to sell it, always tell the truth. While it may be tempting at times to stretch the facts in order to have a more successful marketing campaign, you’re only creating negative PR and unpleasant customer service work down the road. Good marketing, while it may focus on some aspects of a product or service and ignore others, never lies or misleads. Practice always telling the truth about what you have to offer, and you’ll find your employees and customers are more likely to trust you. You’ll also have an easier and clearer avenue to continually improving what your business does, since a great product is an easier one to tell the truth about.
A Great Website
Most potential customers are going to encounter your business from a search engine that leads them to your website, which means your website is the most important piece of marketing that you have, and it is oftentimes the one chance you get to make a good first impression on a potential customer. If your website isn’t crystal clear, easy to use, full of good, grammatically sound and proofread content, not to mention up-to-date and something you are proud of, it’s time for an overhaul. Even if you don’t sell a product or service online, to potential customers, your website reflects who you are. If you don’t have a department or employee in-house that can design and build a killer website for you, hire someone who can.
Marketing keeps your business’s name on the lips of current customers, and it works to get your name to the ears of those who don’t utilize your offerings yet. From always telling the truth to doing at least a little marketing work every day, these marketing best practices will go a long way in ensuring you’re successful in getting business — and keeping it.