fm USA Today.com 18 Sept 15 enhanced by Peter/CXO Wiz4biz
As a small business owner you have a lot on your plate — creating your product or delivering your service, managing your money, motivating your employees, ensuring operations run smoothly. How do you find time to actually attract customers? For an overwhelmed small business owner, how do you manage to take care of one of your most critical business tasks: Marketing?
It’s #1 each year. I talk to thousands of entrepreneurs around the country. The one question I get the most: “How do I attract more customers?” Marketing is always top of mind, but often the lowest task on their To-Do list. The truth is you will have to invest a significant amount of time into marketing. But think of it as just that — an investment. But how can you increase the return-on-investment [ROI]? How can you get the most marketing “Bang for the Buck”, with the least amount of time? There’s no magic bullet, of course, but if you’re thoughtful, these seven (7) marketing tactics can save you time and bring in new customers.
1. Put your Marketing on Auto-pilot. Email is still an extremely effective method of keeping your name in front of prospects & customers. Whether it’s a Newsletter, announcement of special Discounts, Free content, regular communication into their In-box works. Fortunately, you can set up and schedule a whole series of such communications using services like Constant Contact, Vertical Response & Mail Chimp or others. You can easily set up a series to automatically go to every new prospect or customer who registers, to receive communication from you. To entice prospects to provide you with their Names & Email, offer them something of “value” in exchange. Once you have their addresses, auto-responders trigger, so your series begins to go to their In-boxes. But don’t do it too often or you will appear to more of a Spammer, than someone with useful information.
2. Schedule some time for Social Media. Your customers expect to see you on Social Media, but that doesn’t mean you should be spending a lot of time there. Spend a 1/2 hour every weeks to plan what you will post for the next week. Choose illustrative Pix & write short, concise posts. Use a tool like Hoot Suite of Tweet Deck, to schedule your posts in advance. During the week, check in occasionally and respond to comments.
3. Focus your Social Media efforts. Do you really need to be on absolutely every social media site? No. Stick to the Social Media sites that work best for you (ie, top sites w/ # of visitors.
1. Facebook 900 M
2. Twitter 310 M
3. Linked In 255 M
4. Pinterest 250 M
If you have highly visual content — Facebook & Instagram might work best for you. A company that sells creative items? Then Pinterest might be the right choice. Are you running a B2B company? LinkedIn might be your best bet.
4. Network. Join a local business or civic organization and go regularly. Nothing beats the effectiveness of “face-to-face” marketing. Yes, this takes time away from the office or shop, but it’s a great way to get new friends, advisors, customers & generate referrals. If you schedule this, it becomes a regular part of your month – that you look forward to – a reward for your hard work.
5. Look for a Strategic Partnership. You don’t have to do everything alone. A strategic partnership is a relationship with another company for promotion, distribution, product development, or add-on sales. A strong strategic partner that’s already serving your target market can give you a real edge, in reaching that market.
6. Easy to find Online? This is a no-brainer. Make sure prospects can easily find you online, when they’re looking for a business like yours. Use a Search Engine Opitmizer expert, to get a high position on Google & other Search Engines. Make sure you have your Contact info + the benefits/ solutions you offer on Google (66%), Yahoo, Ask, & AOL.
7. Get Marketing Help (if you need to). If you don’t have time to put some of these marketing strategies into place or to maintain them, hire someone who can. [If $$ is tight, offer a little equity] Whatever you do, make sure you make marketing a priority. The time you spend now, will reap rewards in the future.
8. Just Do-It !!! Sometime hardest part in doing Marketing is just getting started. Do some planning and have a knowledge-able person review it – to verify the approach. It’s best to start small and see what works, before throwing more $$ in. But once you start to accelerate, maybe you could get some funding to get to the next level.
Comments: Do you have any other ideas of how to do Marketing?