Category Archives: Marketing

Keeping It Continual

Marketing your business requires continual attention and effort.  Add to that the fact that the marketing world is continually changing and evolving and you can quickly become overwhelmed with the choices, the methods and sometimes the cost.   Arguments can be put forth that slow and steady wins the race, be first out of the gate with the new, stay with the tried and true – we’ve heard so many ideas we’ve lost track.

There are a few points that are important in marketing no matter what tactic you use.

  1. Your unique selling point

As a business owner, you should be well aware of what your USP is.  Every business needs at least one in order to stand out in the crowd.  Not sure what it is for your business?  Ask you customers why they frequent your business, what do like best about your business.  They will be more than happy to tell you and you might be surprised at some of their answers.

Once you have your USP be sure to use in whenever you advertise and be sure to mention it as often as you can.  Above all else, make sure that you continue it.

  1. Stay connected and consistent

In this day and age you must stay connected to your customers.  The old saying “out of sight, out of mind” certainly applies.  On a daily basis we see advertisements everywhere, many of which are from our competitors so if you are off the grid so to speak, you lose.  This doesn’t mean you have to place ads daily – there are many ways to make contact points and stay in your customers view.  A comment on facebook, a tweet, attending a networking event, engage with your customers and your community and you will reap rewards.

  1. Keep it fresh

It is important to keep your marketing fresh.  Using the same advertisement year after year can be interpreted as being a business that is behind the times, old fashioned, too busy, not responsive.  Show people that you have a business that lives and is in touch with the world.  Update your website, post regularly on your facebook page, ensure you keep your branding but freshen your ads on a regular basis.  A business that shows life will thrive.

  1. Stay truthful

Todays customers are pretty savvy.  They know what they want and have typically done their research.  Be sure that you have accurate information on your products and that it is reflected on your website and by your in store staff.

Don’t promise delivery in a specific time that you know you cannot meet.  Be truthful and potentially deliver a day early.  That kind of customer service will go a long way to creating a happy customer.

If you mess up, admit it and fix it.  Don’t try to place blame on a supplier or someone else.  Own up to the error and do your best to correct it in a reasonable amount of time.  Your business will gain respect for being honest and caring enough to make it right.

Marketing takes on many forms and is in a constant state of change.  It can be a jungle if you are not informed and if you are without a plan.  In the long run, taking a bit of time on a consistent basis to plan out your strategy will save you time, money and stress!

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Where Do I Find Clients?

This topic can be the most stressful part of opening and operating a small business.  Particularly for a service oriented business.

You simply cannot sit and wait for customers to find you.  Be pro-active and go out and get them !

Business Organizations

Consider joining and participating in a business or social organization in your community.   But simply joining is not enough, you have to be active and make connections with other members.  It is these personal connections and relationships that will pay off with new customers and referrals.  At the same time, you will be giving back to your community!

Friends and Family

Enough cannot be said about the importance of the support new businesses reap from friends and family.  Yes, they are often the first paying customers and clients a business will see.  But it is the support they provide in spreading the word and helping to create a personality for your business.  Be sure to help them in helping you.  Give them a few business cards that they can hand out, tell them how much you appreciate their help, host a special “Friends & Family Only” celebration opening.  They will always be your strongest supporters.

On Line Advertising

New businesses do not always have significant dollars to advertise, but there are many ways to get the word out for a reasonable cost.  Not advertising is not an option.

In this day and age being on-line is a no brainer.  Applications such as facebook, instagram and even a basic website can be done with little to no cash outlay.  They will however, cost you in time.  But it will be time well spent.  Choose the platforms that your target customers are using.  Choose a couple of platforms and do them well and consistently.  If you choose too many, you will have to limit your time to such a degree that none will be well done and ultimately your business personality and brand will not be promoted well.

Almost every business needs a website.  Many people use their smart phones and tablets to look up contact information, addresses and even shop before physically going to purchase the product, so be sure that you choose one that will also be mobile friendly.

Traditional Advertising

Don’t forget that even though you are using online methods to advertise you still require traditional advertising as well.  Depending on your target market, newspaper or radio may still be very beneficial for your business.  Having a well rounded advertising and marketing plan is imperative to being successful.

Advertising must be a continual activity for any business owner.  Once you stop advertising, you will start losing ground to your competitors and lost ground is difficult to regain.  Sit down, set up a plan, and then follow it – you’ll be glad you did!

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Loyalty Marketing

We hear the term often, but what is Loyalty Marketing?  This is when a business focuses their marketing to existing customers by offering perks and/or incentives.  It is often less expensive and easier to increase the purchasing of an already happy customer than to attract a brand new customer.

VIP Members

This type of offer is not new, but it still works.  Offer a VIP Membership – it does not need to cost the customer anything to join except maybe providing an email address.  Then once a month through an email offer members a new product preview 2 days earlier than non members, or sale prices a day earlier.  Set up a special VIP Member evening outside of normal store hours to view your new fall or spring product line and provide coffee and tea.  Offer VIP members free Christmas wrapping of gifts or free samples.  It does not have to be costly.

Special Offers

Everyone likes to feel they have gotten something for free.  So set your sales to feed into this emotion.  Buy one get one half off, or purchase a specific product and receive a free gift.  This will often attract previous customers that you may not have seen for awhile.

Birthday/Anniversary Perks

Through your customer database you can improve customer loyalty.  Consider sending out a Happy Birthday card or email.  Do you have small items that you could access in order to send a gift out on a client birthday or wedding anniversary?  Consider sending a card out with an offer of a 5% discount on purchases during the month of their birthday.

Partnering

Is there a business down the street that you can partner with to offer discounts to employees of both businesses?  Is it possible to co-ordinate your sales events?  Sharing the cost of marketing will likely reduce your costs and entice new customers into your establishment.  It will also get employees at both businesses referring to each other.

Gaming

Many large corporations have seen success in creating games to bring in customers.  Try a store scavenger day, a scratch for discount weekend or pick a card for a free gift day.  People love the fun of games, and it is easy to create excitement by promoting it in-store for a few weeks prior to the event.

Try something silly like offering a discount for anyone in a Hallowe’en costume during that week leading up to October 31st and post photos on your business Facebook page.

You can reap benefits by using a little creativity and energy to bring customers back into your business to make repeat purchases.  And, it can even add a little fun to the day !

 

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Word Of Mouth Marketing

New business owners will often tell us that “word of mouth” is going to be a big part (sometimes the main focus) of their marketing .  We all know how powerful a happy customer can be and the impact it can have on a business.  But … the majority of people are not necessarily vocal about their satisfaction with a business or service until asked.  Conversely, we are more apt to be vocal when we are dissatisfied.  So if you are sitting back and waiting for great word of mouth to happen, you might be disappointed.

Any kind of marketing, including “word of mouth” takes effort.  And yes, there are things you can do to help it happen!

#1 Use Your Business Cards Wisely

A very wise and savvy mentor that I know always tells her mentees to give customers 3 of their business cards and to tell them “one to keep and 2 to give away”.  Make it easy for your customers and clients to make referrals to you.  If they have a couple of business cards they will give them away to people and they will be happy to help out their friends and colleagues.

Remember, a whole stack of business cards will do you no good sitting in your desk drawer, and they are very affordable.

#2 Support Your Own Clients

Do you have a client or customer who also owns a small business?  Do you have other clients who could benefit from their product or service?  Make that referral, promote their service.  It will come back to you as they will refer people to your business.  Mutual referrals will grow and benefit you both!
#3 Ask

Sometimes, all it takes is a request.  Ask some of your clients and customers if they would consider providing you with a testimonial that you can use on your website or in-store.  Choose wisely – ask individuals who are established in the community and are well-known so that it carries some weight.

#4 Give Them Something To Talk About

It takes an exceptionally happy customer to initiate positive word of mouth for your business.  You have to consistently provide excellent customer service, get to know them and make them feel appreciated, ask for and accept their feedback on products, etc. and then do something with that feedback.  When they feel special and appreciated they will talk about your business in a positive light.

When you put some thought into it, most business owners are able to come up with ideas that will appeal to the emotions of their customers.  Make them feel important, special, appreciated, safe, understood and provide them with positive experiences on a consistent basis.  Being proactive will result in positive word of mouth – don’t sit back and wait for it, make it happen!

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How to Create a Social Media Plan – Part 1

You many have social media accounts for your business, but are you using them to their full potential? Social media for business is meant to connect with your customers and increase your sales. To get the most out of it, you have to have a plan.

Ask yourself the following questions to create a social media plan that will benefit your business best.

  1. What social media is the best fit for your business?

You don’t have to have a presence on every form of social media; you have to have a presence on the ones your target market is using. A great way to find out is to just ask. If you get a lot of traffic on your website, create an online survey or ask them as they leave your store to get the most accurate respone. Entice customers with prizes or other tangible benefit to fill out the survey. Once you know which ones are used more frequently, create accounts if you haven’t already and familiarise yourself.

  1. What are you social media goals?

Now that you’ve determined which social media is the best fit for your business and you’ve created accounts, you need to decide what your purpose is for being there. Do you want to use social media to; increase your referrals or leads, build on your word-of-mouth, increase sales, become known as an expert, provide customer service? Once you decide, set one or two specific goals that can be measured and prioritize them.

  1. How will you measure the success of your social media plan?

This is a step that is often left out. What good is all your effort if you don’t track and measure the success of your social media? Success is measured by the cost and return on investment (ROI), the same as any other marketing efforts. To make measuring return on investment easier, use your social media account to drive your target market to your website then analyse your website statistics. Google Analytics is a great tool that makes it easy to see how your site engagement goals are being met.

To be continued…

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4 Ways to Promote your Website for Free

Nothing is ever truly free. If you aren’t spending money promoting your website, you’re spending time. So if you’re willing to give up some time, these free website promotion techniques will reward you with increased traffic to your site and profit for your business.

Work on your website SEO.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the best for promoting your website. It’s easy to learn and apply to your website. Working on your SEO will improve your page ranking and drive more traffic to your website.

Get reciprocal linking.

Having other people link their website to yours is a great way to get free website promotion. Keep in mind that the quality of the links matter. Focus on finding quality, relevant websites to link to yours and vice versa.

Drive traffic using social media.

Social media is another great place to promote your website/ business for free. Keep in mind you shouldn’t just use social media to promote, but also share valuable information with your followers that keeps them coming back for more.

Create and present quality content.

These promotion techniques won’t find you success unless you have quality content on your website. Don’t drive your target market to a poor website, create content that your audience wants to read and learn more about.

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Content Marketing for your Small Business

Social media is valuable to business owners; it’s a way to generate trust and openness with customers. Aside from your time, social media marketing requires little investment and opens up the lines of communication with your target audience.

Creating good, valuable content is often forgotten when it comes to social media marketing. Here are five types of content you can easily create and share to get your business in front of the right people.

Blogs – Having a small business blog will become integral to your content marketing strategy. There are many types of blog posts you can write; from editorial to tutorial, to compilation blogs. Also including guest posts here and there can incorporate external voices that could draw in new audiences.

Videos – Like blogs, there are many different formats for videos. You can share quick tips, conduct interviews, or let your customers know what’s new with your business. Get creative and share valuable information with your followers.

Podcasts – Podcasts are a great way to connect with your audience in a one-on-one way. This is a form of content that can be shared and consumed easily on a smartphone or audio playing device anywhere, anytime. Convert your quick tips, tutorials, and interviews to audio.

Infographics – Infographics are great for business because they take data and break it down into an easy-to-digest visual tool. Infographics are also one of the most-shared types of content, so they are worth the time it takes to create them.

Images – You can create visual content without infographics by using images that can be quickly shared on sites like Instagram and Pinterest. Include a statistic with an eye-catching photo, an inspiring quote, or even a promotional message that leads followers to your website.

In the words of Jay Baer of Convince and Convert, “Content is fire. Social media is gasoline. Use social to drive awareness of your content more so than awareness of your company.”

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