You’ve taken that leap, made lots of important business decisions about the day-to day running of your business, and now need to think about marketing. So, where to start and how to do it as cost effectively as possible? These tools for marketing will hopefully make it a bit easier for you.
Your brand image is one of the most important tools for marketing your small business. It will communicate your message effectively, clients and potential clients will immediately associate their requirements with your business. It really can make you stand out from the competition, so think very carefully about the impression you want to make.
Honest, reliable, cheap, luxurious, brand values will form the basis of your message and an emotional response from the buyer. They need to trust the product/service, know what it does for them and have a favourable reaction when they hear or see the brand.
Manage your brand and ensure consistency across all media platforms to strengthen your brand.
There is that magic word again, you must plan, the old adage "Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail" should become your mantra in business. Planning is one of the big tools for marketing and you shouldn’t ignore it.
Who are your potential customers, and what helps them make the buying decision, your market research is imperative at this stage. Plan your promotions based on any seasonality that your business has.
As we know, marketing can be expensive so ensure you do not waste precious resources by marketing somewhere your potential customers are unlikely to look.
Email marketing has become one of the most cost effective tools for marketing for small businesses. Offer a sign-up button on your web-site, you then know they really do want to the information you are sending out. Newsletters should be regular, it can become a regular means of communicating with your customers when there is something important to say, tell them about new products or services you are introducing or special offers.
This can be a really useful marketing tool, however, if you email too often with non-relevant content and your customers will unsubscribe.
You will have invested in your website so make sure you utilise it. Have links to your social media. Make sure it is easy to navigate and keep the content fresh and relevant. Make sure you contact details are visible, even on every page. Have a contact form so people can put details of their enquiry on there, importantly be prompt in responding to any enquiries.
Social media is a very versatile tool for marketing your business. Look at all the platforms now available: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pintrest, Instagram, YouTube, the list goes on. Pick the platform where you know your target market will be. Whilst these methods may be free in terms of paying for them, they can cost you a lot of time and as we know, time is money.
Again, be consistent, but do not try to outright sell, the clue is in the word "social" media. People buy from people and this is a great platform for them to get to understand your brand.
Use it not just to talk to your target market but to research them, find out what they are saying, what do they want and importantly what they say about your competition.
As with all marketing - test and measure - do not waste time on something that does not work for you.
Whilst social media is a great form of networking, we believe this should complement physical networking, not replace it. Yes, it will cost you money but test and measure the return on investment so you can justify the cost. Business may not happen overnight, you will need to be consistent and build up rapport with those you meet. Remember, these people then become your sales team, you never know who they know that will need your products or services and because they know you they will become happy to recommend you.
Testimonials are excellent tools for marketing. Make sure you promote these on your website, do not be shy! Take complements and use them (asking permission of course). People listen to other people, so using quotes from your customers can encourage others to buy from you.
If you want to be in an expensive publication look to do this in partnership with other businesses that complement your business. For example, wedding dresses, wedding cakes, car hire, venue, printers, catering business could combine to take out an advert on a full page sharing the cost.
Develop a good relationship with your local press, you never know where it may lead! However, make sure the press release you send is not blatant advertising. Make it appealing: think about the news aspect, the human interest side that will capture people’s imagination. A new website is an advert, however, if you have run a marathon for a good cause, that's PR.
A useful tip for PR as a tool for marketing is to always try to send a good quality picture with your story, this gets more attention, remember, people like images, this will lead them into reading your story.