Most small businesses get caught in an endless loop. They only do marketing when sales are down. However, as soon as their revenue starts to climb from their efforts, they cease doing marketing which then causes a dip in sales. This keeps their business flat and prevents them from moving forward. In order to grow a successful company, small-business owners need to know how to develop a systematic integrated marketing plan on a limited budget.
A recent Pitney Bowes Small Business Marketing Survey, revealed how companies market their business. E-mail is the primary communication channel for the majority of respondents (46 percent), who cited its ease of use and low cost. The telephone is the second-most-popular primary communication method, followed by direct mail. Surprisingly, the survey reports that only 17 percent of small businesses are currently using social media as a significant part of their marketing efforts. Larger businesses rely more heavily on direct mail. QR codes are only being used by a few companies.
Pitney Bowes reports that most businesses concentrate their marketing efforts on the one method they are most comfortable and have used in the past. Unfortunately, this singular focus keeps small businesses stuck.
Companies have an opportunity to increase their revenue by taking advantage of a multi-channel and integrated marketing approach. Here's where to start:
1. Use social media with e-mail: Combining these two marketing tools will yield a higher open rate for e-mail. For example, Vertical Response reported that companies that use social media to promote an email campaign will increase open rates by 28 percent.
2. Use social media with direct mail: Pitney Bowes suggests integrating QR codes into direct mail pieces. Once scanned, these web links can include special offers that drive people online to Facebook, Twitter or a company landing page.
3. Measure e-mail marketing. According to the survey, over 73 percent of respondents do not measure the results of their marketing campaigns from e-mail. In fact, over 50 percent of their e-mail lists have fewer than 100 names. When using e-mail, measure how many actually get opened and who clicks through to the relevant message. Get quantitative feedback by comparing which marketing messages get better results.
4. Measure direct mail campaigns. After a mailing, 67 percent of respondents do not measure its effectiveness. As stated, QR codes can be integrated into these efforts to see how many prospects scanned the code in response to the direct mail piece.
5. Use regular transactional mail (or e-mail) as part of a marketing campaign. Many companies mail (or e-mail) invoices, shipping, or service notices, but don’t use that communication as an opportunity to market to the customer. These pieces have a very high open rate and they can be used to cross-sell or up-sell the customer. Mailing stuffers, QR codes and other special offers can be very effective.
6. Every marketing campaign needs to be testable and trackable for results. Always ask, “What actions will we take after knowing the results?” Also, a marketing campaign is not worthwhile if it is not repeatable and scalable.