Many small businesses rely on word of mouth and referrals to gain new customers. However, at a certain point, developing a marketing strategy is essential to continue growing your business. Effective marketing enables you to proactively identify potential customers, educate them on the value of your services, and win new business.
Your marketing strategy doesn’t need to be complex, time consuming or expensive. Carving out a little time each day for marketing activities can pay dividends. Below are five marketing strategies that successful SMBs use to generate new business.
Obviously, social media has become a large part of many people’s personal and professional lives. But too many SMBs don’t use to their advantage. Create social accounts for your business, make regular updates and build a network. It’s important to engage with your social media network daily or as often as you can. In other words, don’t use social media for promotion alone. You should like, comment on, and share interesting posts from your contacts, as well.
Focus on the social media platforms that your prospective customers use. Facebook and Twitter are a good start, because they are so popular. Depending on the types of customers you want to reach, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest might be worth investigating, as well.
Tell your story
Create a blog and share engaging content. Write short blogs about the products or services you provide, industry news, and/or broader topics that reflect your business’ mission. Blogging is an opportunity to show potential customers who you are as a business rather than just what you do or sell. For example, an outdoor equipment store might blog about environmental issues and local conservation efforts rather than just promoting a sale on tents and kayak paddles.
There are many tools available to create and manage a blog. Choose one that easily integrates with your web site and offers an easy to use interface. Wordpress is a popular option.
Your website is how you present your business to potential customers. Be certain that it’s straightforward, easy to navigate, and informative. Design is important as well. Make sure that your web design is clean and professional. If you do not have in-house web design skills, consider hiring an outside firm to build and update your site. Also, an informative, well-designed web site is pointless if no one can find it. Search engine optimization (SEO) and targeted search engine marketing (SEM) is highly recommended.
You also need a way to track visitors to your web site and blog, so you can continue to engage with them over time. One option is to deploy marketing software that integrates with your web site to capture contact information, track engagement, and provide analytics about current and prospective customers. Hubspot is a popular example of this type of software.
Email is one of the easiest ways to engage with current and prospective customers. Regular email communication is a good way to keep current customers informed about trends and issues in the market that you serve.
Many businesses use a newsletter format to direct contacts to thought-provoking articles on your blog or other trustworthy sources. Marketing software, like the tools noted above, can be used to create, automate, and track email campaigns.
Many SMBs don’t have the resources available to dedicate a lot of time to marketing. If you are in this boat, choose your battles wisely. Examine this list and choose the marketing opportunities that you have the time for today. Small business marketing is an opportunity to establish your business expertise, develop a reputation as a trusted source for information, and build your brand. It’s also a place where your loyal, dedicated customers can share their positive experiences. It’s just like word of mouth advertising, when you think about it. But with a far bigger reach.
Don’t wait for business to come to you. Be proactive, get your message out there, and give potential customers a clear path to doing business with you.