When people hear the word "marketing," they tend to think of ads: commercials, direct mail pieces, online ads, and Facebook ads. While advertising is certainly part of marketing, it's only one component of a successful marketing strategy. Traditional advertising revolves around sales-driven messaging, where you're trying to "push" someone to buy. Before you get to the point of making a sale, however, there are usually many other steps that have to occur. That's why it's important to use a mix of marketing activities and appeal to people at different stages of their customer journey.
Go Beyond Advertising
Marketing goes beyond just advertising your latest products or services. There are numerous ways you can engage with people, build your brand equity, and foster relationships with current and potential customers. Here are 5 ways you can promote your small business:
Customer Loyalty Programs
Customer Loyalty Programs
Did you know that the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%, while the probability of selling to a new customer is only 5-20%? Loyalty programs are a great way to encourage new customers to become repeat customers. It's often much easier to retain an existing customer than to attract an entirely new one, so it pays to focus on building relationships and loyalty. A few examples are:
Offering a free service after someone has booked two or three prior services
Offering a referral bonus (such as a free service) to existing customers if they refer a new customer
Giving Loyalty Program members exclusive perks and access to VIP events or previews
A whopping 87% of consumers read reviews for local businesses. Online reviews are modern day "word of mouth" marketing, so use them to your full advantage by implementing a strategy to increase your online reviews. Reviews on Google are especially important because they will help your business gain authority on Google Maps and Search. Determine what other platforms make sense for your business (Yelp.com, Facebook reviews, industry-specific review sites, or others) and start building your digital footprint through positive reviews.
Today, 72% of the American public uses some type of social media. Determine what social media platforms your target audiences uses, and ensure your business has a presence there. Quality is more important than quantity, but aim to establish a regular cadence of posting on your chosen platforms. Social Media Management tools are a great option because they allow you to schedule posts in advance, view analytics, and make it easy to manage your content across multiple platforms.
64% of small businesses use email marketing to reach customers. When people sign up for your e-mails, they're inviting you to communicate with them... which makes them an extremely valuable audience! Some e-mail best practices include optimizing your e-mail designs for mobile, incorporating audience segmentation, and using A/B testing for content and subject lines. And while you'd never want a massive exodus of subscribers, it's okay if people do click that "unsubscribe" link--the last thing you want is a list filled with inactive or disengaged subscribers who won't convert anyway.
While social media is a great way to reach people, having a professional website for your business is important for establishing credibility. It also provides you with the flexibility to tell your brand story in a completely customized way. Investing in a solid SEO strategy will give your website the best chance of ranking highly on organic search results, which is one of the best ways to attract new customers searching for the products or services you offer.
Test, Learn, and Adjust
By implementing these tactics into your marketing strategy, you'll be well on your way to developing a comprehensive marketing plan for your small business. One of the great things about digital marketing is that it's easy to test-and-learn. You can track your efforts, gauge what's working and what isn't, and adjust your strategy accordingly. It really is a case of "practice makes perfect!"