Effective Marketing Strategy for Small Business
Communicating with your customers is vital, but how do you know what you are doing is effective? Whilst it is important that your Marketing Strategy aligns with your overarching business objectives, there are several strategies that can be claimed to be the most effective for small business – generally speaking!
According to a report from InfusionSoft, word-of-mouth remains the most effective marketing strategy. In our era of technology and social media, the customer has more opportunities than ever before to “vocalise” either a positive or negative experience with your business. The more compelling the positive experience, or the more horrible the experience (Heaven forbid) , the more likely your customer is to tweet, blog or post about it. Your business should always strive for excellence in both product and service, end to end, to create and maintain a happy customer and experience.
I would like to hazard a guess that the InfusionSoft research, like many other statistics put forward by digital software suppliers, is skewed towards reinforcing the impact of digital communications. Common themes covering website traffic, writing effective blogs, using Google Ad Words or other digital advertising strategies are very apparent across many sites.
Small businesses quite often have lean budgets, giving all the more reason to leverage cost effective yet productive strategies. So, here is a “short and sweet” list of the strategies that I feel are often successful for small businesses.
Leverage Existing Relationships
Relationships are one of the key drivers and supporters of small businesses, and as such it makes sense to make your customers feel special! There are a variety of methods you can use to do this; regular communications, VIP nights, exclusive offers, or quite simply delivering excellent customer service. No matter whether you are a web-based or retail shop front business, there are a multitude of ways you can make your customers feel special.
Focus on the Profit Boosting Customers
It is critical to remember that not all sales are worthwhile. Just stop and think about your customer base, and I’m sure that you could name at least one (if not a multitude) who either
- take up a lot more of your time for the same sales outcome as another customer; or
- ask for heavier discounts or free delivery each and every order
The above are just a couple of examples of what often occurs in small business. Quite often small businesses report that 70% of customers are “break even” and 10% of customers are actually costing your business money.
So how does this affect your Marketing? Simple – stop marketing to these customers. Don’t upset them, but simply don’t make them feel extra special, because your business is actually better off hunting for more customers who boost profits as opposed to those costing you money. Assess your customers for their profitability and direct your marketing to customers who really count.
Email and Snail Mail
According to the Infusionsoft report, the leading effective strategies were Email Marketing, Networking, Social Media, Search Engine Marketing and Content Marketing. Email marketing is incredibly cost effective and can be as general as a “one size fits all” e-newsletter, through to personalised messaging and targeted offers. However, many inboxes are now “bulging” with emails from all and sundry and the need for compelling messages and cut through is becoming increasingly difficult. However, old-fashioned letters or “snail mail” can still deliver serious bang for buck. There are also loads more options for grabbing attention from your customer than simply in a subject line. Whilst surface mail is not as cost friendly as email, the return on investment can often be considerably higher. Costs can also be minimised by using existing systems already on your PC like Microsoft Word and Excel.
Trade Shows, Networking Events and Conferences
No matter your industry or specialty, you are likely to have a relevant trade show, conference or event in your area. An attention grabbing, profile-boosting exhibit at an event can often be a great source of new prospects. Signage is becoming increasingly more cost effective, and hand-outs can be anything from unique business cards (a notepad for example) to brochures or samples. It is critical that you capture contact information of prospects at trade shows, so ensure you have a facility to do this quickly and easily. Business card prize draws are often a good way just to get people on your database, but can also often be people who are prize-hungry and not really interested in what you have on offer. Guest speaking at events is also a great way to boost your profile.
Supporting your local sporting club through to hosting an event allows your business to have visibility in front of lots of people in minimum time. Find a charity or community group that you care about and leverage it to your own advantage.
Create a Destination
It started with Bunnings – with kids craft classes and playgrounds making them a great “family destination” on the weekend. Ikea offer child care and a cafe making it easier for customers to shop and have a break from the kids. Why not steal this idea – if it works for them, why not for you?
Create Relationships with Local Media
Editorial features are renowned for being more credible than paid advertising. No matter how strong your relationship with local media, it is important that you have a fresh and timely story. It’s usually worthwhile to hire an experienced publicist to position your story, develop and send press releases targeted to appropriate media.
Content Marketing & Online Expertise
In-bound and content marketing are Marketing buzz words. They can be an incredibly powerful tool to generate organic traffic to your site, as can being an “online expert”. Monitoring and joining product or service relevant forums and offering expert advice can often lead customers straight back to you.
If you after advice on how to get your marketing started, reinvigorated or just need some advice, feel free to contact us, ProMark Business Developments are more than happy to help.