Marketing your business – a must, but something that can be very costly. Marketing is very closely tied to sales. Remember: To grow your sales, you will have to keep your audience (no matter who they are) interested enough to keep coming back. Good marketing keeps them interested. The key to creating the snowball effect, whereby one happy client tells another – and the synergy of it all – is in the marketing. You need a marketing plan no matter how big or small you are, and no matter if you’re selling toilet paper or organic food. Grab a pen...
Let’s Get the Obvious One Out of the Way. SOCIAL MEDIA – Hop On Board ASAP!
This is key. If you’ve been too afraid to dabble, now is the time. Facebook fan page, Twitter account, YouTube account, Instagram account, Pinterest account, LinkedIn account, ALL MUST-HAVES! Are you dizzy yet? Create them, and have them link to one another. Link them to your website. Social media is crucial to complementing your cold-calling, referrals, networking and direct sales techniques. Also, SUBMIT YOUR URL EVERYWHERE. You want Google to crawl through your site and index you. You want people to find you!
I am AMAZED every day at the power of social media. I am living it, and I cannot believe the impact it has had on the success of my business. If you don’t understand its power, let me give one example. After I publish a blog post, it automatically gets uploaded to Twitter. Now, if someone stumbles upon my article, and they like it, and they Retweet it (i.e., they share it with their followers), I have just touched a brand-new audience that I couldn’t have reached on my own (possibly 100,000 new people), and it snowballs from there. Do you see the effect? Hop on board the social media bus.
And once we’re talking social media, may I also suggest GUEST BLOGGING on other websites who target your potential audience. This ups your visibility.
Have you ever offered to help a friend, and she helped you in return? Well, it works the same way in business. A very effective way to get your business some attention is to choose an industry or a specific company that COMPLEMENTS your product or service, and advertise for each other. The key word is complements, not competes.
I’ll give you an example to show you the power of cross promotion. When I ran my business, I had a friend who owned a graphic design company. We were both targeting the same clients – he for website design, and me for promotional items. So what did we do? We put reciprocal links on each other’s websites, we had each other’s business cards visible in our offices, we shared referrals, and we sent clients to each other. Do you get it? It made me look almost like a one-stop shop, it brought him new opportunities, and vice versa. Cross promoting is an easy and effective way to tap into new markets.
So find a few companies or industries that complement yours, and see if you can work a business partnership together. I cannot stress the benefit of this setup enough.
PR and Media Coverage
I covered this in a previous YouInc article, but I need to stress it again. There is no better or more organic way to boost sales than to appear on TV, radio, magazine, newsprint or online talking about your product or service. We know that media attention feeds your business, so I will remind you two tricks to getting booked.
1. Storytelling. The media loves stories. Give the press a reason to talk about you. What’s your hook? What’s your UNIQUE STORY? Tell it in a story, and once you’re telling that story, find an organic way to incorporate your business into the mix.
2.Provide tips and value. For example: 5 Ways To Beat The Winter Blues, 5 Healthy Meal Choices for Kids, 5 Money Saving Strategies, 5 Spring Fashion Trends. Whatever your field, provide tips and solutions to increase your chances of getting booked and showcasing your company.
Spending thousands of dollars on radio ad campaigns or newspaper and magazine ads to reach the masses is terribly expensive. Instead, opt for some direct marketing.
What is a direct marketing campaign? Marketing directly to your target audience. If your business isn’t hyper niched, you should choose a potential target market or industry that you think will be a heavy user of your product or service. When I ran my previous company, it was the financial and healthcare sector that was my big audience. Who is it for you? When you identify this market, direct mailing will let you test this marketplace to confirm if they are actually the goldmine you think they are. You can even send targeted mailers to companies by postal code or by industry. Lists can be found online if you look hard, or for purchase.
People love free stuff! You’ve certainly read ads that looked something like this: “The first 100 customers who visit our store, get a free x.” And that free thing could be ANYTHING. But the point is, people come running for free stuff. I’m guilty of it – we’re mostly all guilty of it.
I am going to suggest this (not because it was my first business, but because it’s also smart publicity): These freebies can also be promotional products. Or they can be YOUR free product or service. This encourages people to try you. And once you’ve got ‘em, you’ve hopefully got ‘em for a while.
Referral and Loyalty Programs – A Must!I have a CIBC Visa Aerogold for one reason. I earn one point for every dollar I spend on this Visa. Simple. That’s where it starts, and that’s where it ends. When you’re running a business, you’ve got to give people a reason to come back to you. There are just too many smart and savvy businesspeople out there today doing lots of things to keep clients. You should consider creating customer loyalty programs right from the start. You can be a masseuse, a distributor, a coach, a manufacturer, a cleaning service, it doesn’t matter. You can create a custom-designed program for any business. And you must.
For all the nay-sayers, I think it’s a nice way to reward your clients for their loyalty.
Additionally, for each client that refers another client, why not give them 10% off their next order? People love rebates and savings, no matter what you’re selling! You need to give people a reason to come to you.
There are umpteen ways to market your business and get your name and brand out there without losing your shirt, and I’d love to hear what you’re doing to market your business!