Do you consider yourself to be an effective small business marketer? The truth is, while there are many great marketers out there, there is always something left to learn.
We all have our tried and trusted favorite strategies. Every now and then it’s worth looking around to see what’s working for others that might also work for you. In this article, we present a few small business marketing ideas and tips that you may not have come across.
Whether you are working in a start-up or a long-established business, it may be well worth your time and effort to bring a fresh perspective to your marketing strategy.
The results may surprise you!
1. Master mobile
I bet we’re starting to sound like a broken record, but if you were to pick any new wave of marketing you should be riding right now, it absolutely has to be mobile.
Countless commentators across the web have highlighted the rise and rise of mobile. Mobile is one of the key technology trends of the modern era, and it is a trend that is leaving no marketing stone unturned.
There’s lots of great advice to be found if you are just getting your mobile strategy off the ground.
2. Get behind a worthy cause
For every business out there worth its salt, there are a range of worthy causes screaming out for products, services, practical support or publicity.
Most big corporations now have corporate social responsibility policies (or something of that ilk) which see them visibly engaging with the community in a positive way.
Examples include Xerox’s Community Involvement Program, the LinkedIn for Good Program, and Cisco.
There are obvious benefits of corporate social responsibility to the beneficiary of the program, but it is worth noting that the positives frequently run in both directions.
Supporting a cause is not just a one-way street: there are many advantages that can accrue to your company too in initiating a CSR program.
As one example, allowing staff leave to volunteer with the charity for a day or two a year is a great way to build employee loyalty while at the same time building community goodwill.
And to that warm glow in the cockles of your hearts, you can add a more sympathetic public face for your business, which can never be a bad thing.
3. Ask your customers for testimonials
Did you know that 73% of customers say positive customer reviews make them trust a business more? Or how about this: 63% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a site which has user reviews.
The truth is, the power of a good testimonial or review is phenomenal.
Generated only once, it can work for you 24/7 by bolstering your company’s reputation, credibility, and trustworthiness to prospective customers.
But how to go about getting a baseline set of testimonials in the first place? There are a number of strategies which might work for you, it’s a case of trying one or two and seeing what sticks.
For example, you might try building in reviews and testimonials into your service model, so that there are automatic prompts at likely points (i.e. at the point of sale).
Alternatively, sometimes you might even be in a lucky position to be given some spontaneous positive feedback from a customer.
If so, get on to this quickly and ask if they’d be happy to put it in writing. As the old saying goes, if you don’t ask, you don’t get!
4. Network, network, network
This might seem like an old school tip, but the truth is that the value of networking for those in small business remains as relevant now as it was back in the day.
The difference is that nowadays there are so many more channels and options available for making and maintaining connections.
Social networking, in particular, provides many opportunities. One can connect with those inside and outside your industry who are closely aligned with your professional interests.
This means that you can be much more strategic and efficient about who you are connecting with and why, in a way that was not ever possible before.
Want to get started, and you’re not sure how? Check out this article from The Huffington Post: Tips to Network Like a Pro and Grow Your Small Business, which has a host of good ideas.
Then dust off those business cards and get cracking!
5. Ramp up your content marketing
You may be familiar with the hype about content marketing, it is the idea that you need to draw potential customers in through strategically developed content. It’s more than putting your business name in the phone book and hoping for the best.
But for those who are not traditionally in the copywriting or marketing industries, this can seem like a big ask.
A lot of small business owners are still only using their available web space as a type of placeholder.
Hoping they can outsource “all that web stuff” to their internet service provider, or to “Cousin Larry” who knows a thing or two about the web, they end up with sub-standard products that don’t adequately reflect the first thing about their business.
How did they get there? One word: Fear. Fear that their customers won’t want them “blathering on about nothing”. Fear that their grammar or expression isn’t up to scratch. Fear that no-one will read what they have to say.
Well, time for a reality check. If your customers already know, like and trust you enough to do business with you, chances are that they value your opinion and would like to hear your thoughts.
So, what are you waiting for? Start a blog. Get proactive with social media. Answer a frequently asked question. Tell the story of your business. Run a competition. Just whatever it is….add value. And make sure you start it today.
6. Don’t forget about email
Just about every small business collects customer emails now as a matter of course.
Ten seconds while you have the customer at a transaction or over the phone, whack them in the CRM (or wherever you like to put them) and it’s done.
But in the ocean of administrative data we collect from customers it is easy to miss what opportunities email offers us to connect with clients in a meaningful way.
Having said that, driving your customers crazy by spamming them is definitely not the way to go either.
What you are looking for is a happy middle ground where you are helpful without being intrusive. Also, it’s good to know where you add more value than they’d naturally expect.
That is the secret to keeping them subscribed. Consistently solve their problems for them (sometimes before they even know they have them), and you will be haunting their inbox for years to come.
What should you email them? That depends on your industry, your relationship with the recipient, and how this all aligns with your marketing playbook.
Some simple suggestions are: a regular newsletter or digest, industry news, company and staff profiles, sales offers, vouchers, case studies, etc.
The most important thing is that it is relevant and meaningful to your recipients. Otherwise, they will vote with their feet, and that is to be avoided at all costs!