Readers of my blogs will know how important I believe it is to have a marketing plan that is consistent, well-oiled and value for money in order to get small business growth. Those that are in small business will often balk at the cost or rely on word of mouth only because they either can't afford to spend the money or they just don't know where to start or even know what works and what doesn't. Yet, as small business advisors we will often say that you can't afford "NOT" to market or your lack of revenue will not be able to generate enough cash flow and profits to cover the minimum fixed costs to enable your business to not only survive but thrive.
In marketing there is no magic bullet. Some of it is test and measure and it's important to keep doing what is working. Here are 5 things though that I believe you need to be doing as a minimum to get your revenue rocking.
Figure 1: Using social media to promote your business can be a winner if it is done cleverly and uses images as part of content.
1. Social Media
Whether you are a fan or not, social media is now one of the most effective ways to market most products and services. It's true that some mediums are better than others but as a guide use:
- Instagram if you have products or services that are very visual and can be photographed (e.g. restaurant, artists etc);
- Facebook if you are part of a local community or have a specific demographic - it can be used to be very specific (age, location, gender etc.) which can make it's paid advertising very effective;
- Twitter if you have short sharp messages and updates people wish to be made aware of. It could be a share price for a stock or if you were a school even an ongoing update and result of a game of sport that people want to know how their kid's team is going, for example;
- LinkedIn if you want to be seen as a leader in your field. This will usually cover the bigger end of town but can also be used by those who want to be seen as experts in their industry with some very interesting content.
A CRM is a customer relationship management tool that allows you to build a picture of your current customers and future customers. Having one of these in place allows you to market to them to let them know what is going on in your world and how you might be able to help them.
An important feature of a CRM is its ability to slice and dice so that when you send out content you can make sure it's only going to the right people ('persona'). For example, marketing a beer product will most likely be best to be sent to those that are male and over a certain age.
3. Newsletters & Blogs
When was the last time you sent out a newsletter or blog? More importantly how was the content? Would it be useful to its readers?
Figure 2: You don't have a website, newsletter or blog?
4. Professional Website
In a digital age it surprises me that some people still don't have a website or if they do they haven't updated its content or look and feel for years. Whether your business is small business accountants like mine or a restaurant, engineering firm or a building and construction company, invest some time in getting your website right so you can look the part and survive the 'digital interview' which will include ratings by past and present clients that others are looking for before dealing with you.
Always get feedback from your customers and always ask for testimonials for those that are happy to do so. These can then be communicated on your website and give others confidence before they make a decision to do business with you.
Figure 3: Do some of these marketing basics and you will be on your way!
Marketing is very important but it does not always have to cost a lot of money. Most of the above will cost very little although you will need to spend time to make them effective. Where possible get some expert help with some of these areas at the beginning and then you should find that you can handle most of it yourself and once you get some real results you can look at spending some more through the reinvestment of those extra sales.
Marketing can be hard work but if done consistently and in a targeted manner the results can be very rewarding.