One of the most common questions I get asked is what marketing activities pack the most punch when there are so many to choose from? If you’ve been asking yourself that same question, then you’re in luck. I’ve pulled my most popular tips for small business owners right here:
1. Get on Your Soapbox: A solid brand position is rooted in a passionate commitment to the customer. What do you believe about your industry, product or service? What possibilities are you creating for your customer? What’s your customer’s burning issue and in what ways does your company solve it. Get on your soapbox, speak and write passionately about it and your ideal customer will be drawn to the message.
2. Update Your Site and Start a blog: If it’s been more than three years since you’ve updated your site – it’s time to take a fresh look. Have you started a blog? These days, web sites and blogs are almost interchangeable. They can be hosted for free and often come with free high-end design templates that only require you to write content. Look at your web site and blog as free or low-cost advertising to your prospects and customers. Use the blog to tell them about the latest new products or services. Have you solved a customer or technical problem – share your experience on the blog? Customers will love the extra information. Prospects will have reasons to choose you.
3. Create a social media policy: Social media is not a fad any more. It’s time to stop experimenting and start managing your social media strategy. Create a policy around social media, even if you’re only a one-person operation. Your social media policy should include your objectives for each site and any rules you have around posts, articles, pictures, etc. Creating this policy will eliminate employee confusion, problems and PR and potential digital reputation management nightmares.
4. Build and Combine Lists: You probably have some kind of customer list (or three) lying around. This is the year to combine these names into a single customer list. Start with a basic spreadsheet and then start grouping your customers into segments or categories. Now do the same with your prospects. Having one, updated master list will make communicating with customers fast and easy.
5. Market Directly: Why spend thousands of dollars on advertising that you can’t control? If you know where you customers live, you can reach out to them personally and directly. You’ll find your marketing spending power double or triple by simply diverting your advertising dollars to direct marketing.
6. Do Videos: If you have a product or service that shines in demo mode, then videos are an ideal and cost-effective marketing tool for you. Open a corporate YouTube account and upload demos and live presentations for your prospects to find and customers to access.
7. Productize Your Services: It’s much easier to understand and purchase something that looks like a product. Notice that even software downloads or e-books actually look like a tangible product so that people can have a sense of what they are purchasing. Turn your service into a product by giving it a name, describing your process as a specification and then charging a flat rate instead of by the hour. You’ll find that it’s easier to sell, easier to buy and more profitable for your business.
8. Mobile Marketing: Globally twice as many people use text messaging than e-mail. Chances are your customers interact more with their PDA than they do with their computer. Mobile Marketing Programs allow your customer to opt-in and request certain kinds of messages and updates from you. If you’re a restaurant, use mobile marketing to update customers on specials. Mobile marketing is currently a wide open space. Use it to market to hard-to-reach customers.
9. Referral system: Stop treating referrals like a happy accident. Run a referral program that includes regular meetings with people who agree to enthusiastically refer you. Start by creating a referral guideline that outlines what sets your business apart, profiles your ideal customer and describes what they might say that should trigger a referral to you. Put your focus on attracting “Centers of Influence” and “trusted advisors” who will refer you to their clients and customers. It’s like having a free salesforce!
10. Focus on Ideal Customers: Decide to only work with profitable customers. Identify customers who are happy with what you offer and refer you. Profile them in detail; what’s important to them, what are their 7 biggest frustrations? Outline in what ways your company gives them what’s important and eases their frustrations. Now go get more customers just like that.
Have you tried any of these tips already? What have been your results. Do you have some must-do marketing tips for 2010? Share them here!
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About the Author: Ivana Taylor is CEO of Third Force, a strategic firm that helps small businesses get and keep their ideal customer. She’s the co-author of the book “Excel for Marketing Managers” and proprietor of DIYMarketers, a site for in-house marketers. Her blog is Strategy Stew.