|A reply to a recent post online stated a major business problem that we sometimes overlook: “All of these detailed plans are very good, but how do I start out? What is my first step in marketing a small business?”
While we specialize in opening the online world to small businesses, how to actually start one week before opening your doors is an overlooked Marketing exercise that we sometimes overlook.
Firstly, do you know your audience? I am amazed by the amount of store-front businesses opening in my small town every time that I walk along its streets. How come I didn’t know about this opening, or this store? Your opening is a massive event, because you are introducing shoppers to a whole new experience, a completely different array of stuff that they may need. A sign in the front window saying: “We are new!” isn’t enough. How do people find out that you are about to open? The answer here is a choice: You will spend money on marketing, or you will spend a lot of time outside of your businesses’ opening making sure that your future audience knows that you are opening. Don’t rely on them to find you as part of a regular shopping trip…make sure they are there to see you, to spend time, to make a decision to buy. You have to get to them to let them know that you are holding an event for them.
Do you know who your audience is? Is it primarily female, or Boomers? Is it for people of a certain salary group, or for people that belong to a community other than your geographical one? Do you have a business plan in mind that states what lines you have now, how you are going to expand, and what you are going to use to continually create interest in your business within your chosen communities? Are you seasonal, and know how you are going to entice people into your business in 3 months, 6 months, a year? OK, now put those facts together in a list: I am selling this to these people. Now go and find them. Are they online or off? Are they local, or will they have to travel somehow to get to you. Where can you find them? Of course, a website is the perfect way to share what you are trying to say, to tell the story, show prospects where you are, who you are and how to get to you. You can think of possible objections to them visiting you, and deal with those ahead of time. But this is only good if your Ideal Customer is actually online to see them. How about these ideas, while you are adding to, or designing, your website:
Flyers are a good way to get business for a local service and we have all seen others who have had success with this. Leaving them up with your phone number on the bottom and then cut into slices so people can grab one and then placing them around at local coffee shops etc.
Physical networking definitely helps you to get seen by local government, merchant associations, and regular everyday customers. Local print advertising could be expensive, but if your local paper has a reader profile that matches your ideal customer, you can get a deal to advertise over a 6 or 8 month period that satisfies your ongoing advertising needs, and the costs would be more gentle. Of course having your web details on your advertising, allows prospects to see you ‘at a glance’, then investigate you more at their own pace.
Once you have a plan, a customer profile, and an ongoing investment (in money or time.) outline, you will be better placed to succeed than others, whose ego is the only thing they rely on for success.
|Hopefully, if your ongoing marketing is having an positive effect on your customers and prospects, you are collecting a lot of data. There comes a time when you should take a closer look at the data you have, and are still collecting. While you have put a lot of time into defining your message for each channel, and ensuring that each of these channels are getting enough attention, there comes a time when you have to find out what this collection of information actually means to your business. How has your businesses’ database evolved, and how can you ensure that the signals you are getting from it are correct, and can further your sales?
Data may be the four-letter word that does irreparable harm to your marketing if it isn’t looked after, so ensure that you make the most of it, before your competitors do. Think about this: Up to 25% of customer data becomes inaccurate within one year. If you are making marketing and sales decisions on this, you stand a 1 in 4 chance of going down the wrong path, and wasting time by treading water in your marketplace. Here are four easy steps to ensure that you maximize your data, and they are easy to put into your monthly working practices.
1. Maintain Field Completeness.
Either you, or your sales and marketing department need to identify who is doing what in your customer and prospect database. What fields are important to you: Name, address, or business, past purchases, size, or frequency? Of course, you can define all kinds of knowledge, but if your fields are being ignored by others in the company, then everyone may be looking at the same data, but receiving different signals. Ensure that everyone gets the same results by agreeing (or clarifying) the headers that enable you to keep your records straight.
2. Take Action on Bouncebacks.
Don’t just delete those e-mail bouncebacks – use them. The average time of workers at companies is between two to five years. Even if someone stays at a company longer than this, their job title may change. Think of the amount of mergers and acquisitions that take place everyday, if you are working in a B2B market. These three factors may well be responsible for the returned mail you are getting.
Not only frustrating, this can lose you leads if you simply ignore them. If someone has left a position, find out who took their place, and track down where your contact went to. This doubles the amount of leads that you have! You know that a particular business was interested, along with a person: perhaps that contact’s new business would also be looking at your service? Does the new guy in the chair know of their bosses’ interest in your service? You need to at least save these returned e-mails as a possible new source for sales and marketing to.
3. Make Sense of Unsubscribes.
While giving a prospect the opportunity to unsubscribe from your marketing gives them a certain amount of power, shouldn’t you get something from this, too? Come up with a system that addresses this, by finding out why. See how these lists grow, try to drill down to get more information, and alter your marketing system, before getting in touch with them again from a different perspective a few months later. Lists like this can feed the life-blood of a business, by teaching you what isn’t working from your prospect point of view.
4. Track Increased Engagement
It’s not all bad news: There is a reason why you are receiving positive feedback. Once again, you can find buried treasure to find out which channels are working and why. Are there certain messages working better than others? Find out why, and mould this message into a shape that will receive a more positive reaction from more prospect sources. You can even change the least popular of your positive marketing to try to bump up those figures.
There is something called Paralysis by Analysis that infects many companies: When you spend way too long studying results of marketing, and this impacts the speed at which your business reacts to changes in your marketplaces. Get accustomed to overhauling your data on an ongoing basis, and this will make your Analysis faster and more successful. These simple four steps will be a good starting point.
|It is the time of year, when everyone appears to run their ‘best of’ or highlights of the year just gone. Of course, this allows you to see how things changed over the last 12 months, but how about using the movements we have seen in a particular area (Social Media branding in this case.), and use them to predict what will probably happen in the upcoming 12 months?
Of course, we leave ourselves open to ridicule a year from now when these things don’t appear, but we are sure that, based on recent movements in the small business branding area, you will see at least some of the following changes online. You can do no harm by preparing yourself for what may happen – if you are wrong, you will only overshoot what is happening. In each case, it means a ‘win, win’ situation for your small business.
Content Marketing grows in importance. Salaries, expenses, and profit continue to be aimed at – and derived from – quality, original content to ensure that businesses are heard above the ‘cybernoise’ of the internet. Ensure that your content continues to show you in the best light.
Parsing Data. The more marketing there is online, the more data Search Engines can collect and show you about exactly what kind of engagements your business is getting. Data levels of engagement can be further mined to show exactly what prospects are finding interesting about you, and driving down the cost of customer acquisition. Pay what you need to get hold of more and more data.
More of the same? The amount of low quality, low interest, cookie-cutter information will continue to grow, and the Search Engines will continue to grow their filtering algorithms to ensure that only the best-of-the-best get higher rankings. Stay on that High Road, and create content, don’t be lazy.
Guest posting drops. As soon as Google stated that Guest Blogging is a great way to get links, the market exploded. The obvious reaction to this is the number of sites that will no longer accept them. Wean yourself from Guest posting.
More High-end Videos. Video exploded a couple of years ago. The amount of upgrades now being adopted by marketers to their video presentations, such as graphics, High Definition, animation, etc. mean that the more creative marketers will do whatever they can to imaginatively use video: Be one of these, and graphically show hoe you can help your clientele.
An Acquisition market. Over the last few years, start-ups in the online world have not only continued to be bought by big players, the rate of acquisition continues to grow. Nowadays, it is the way that the marketplace is diversifying. We believe that more acquisitions will take place in 2015, and so if you see a start up with a clever marketing idea, add it to your branding avenues. The chance that it will be swallowed by a big name is very high and, as an early adopter, your rep. will grow after acquisition.
There may be more headlines to share as we move further into the New Year, but we think that these are the base line in continuing internet branding. Be on the front line of marketing, and ensure that you are compliant with these predictions. It will lead to a happy and profitable New Year.