When you’re just starting out with your own business, it’s hard not to feel like the smallest fish in a very big pond. But the trick to growing is all about using your wits. With the right marketing strategies, you’ll quickly outgrow the pond that looks so large now.
What marketing strategies for small business work best? Considering that you won’t have the advertising budget or manpower of a big company, you’ll need to approach your marketing with different tactics. And you’ll also need to keep in mind that it’s a collective effort. Using one or two of these strategies won’t lead to success, but by employing most or all of them, you’ll improve your chances drastically. And these top 10 aren’t the be all or end all of small business marketing. There are endless tips and tricks out there that mom and pop shops or tiny start-ups have used to outgrow their garages or corner stores and truly take off.
1. Customer service. This is essentially the golden rule of business. If you want to get ahead and stay ahead, have customer service covered. This means two things. First, treat the customer singularly – give him or her an experience he or she will remember positively and want to come back for. Second, always have a plan in place in case there is customer dissatisfaction. This is bound to happen at some point, whether you’re a corner coffee shop or a business-to-business tech firm. Planning ahead can help you handle the situation with grace. A customer complaint may, believe it or not, turn out to your advantage if the customer walks away happy.
2. Offer products you’re proud of. This goes without saying, but it’s also one of the marketing musts that many companies neglect. Not only should your product be good, you should show to your customers that you know it’s good. Be proud, be exciting – these are infectious emotions.
3. Word of mouth. This follows from good customer service as well as good products or services. Especially if you’re enthusiastic about your venture, people will talk. But you’ll also have to do some legwork of your own. You can help word of mouth get a head start through small viral marketing campaigns, both online and off.
4. Print promotional material. Stickers, flyers, personalized T-shirts – whatever there’s room for in the budget, have it made up. These will help spread the word around your community, but they also come in handy for other marketing strategies, like mailers.
5. Twitter. The other half of your viral marketing campaign should be conducted on social media. Twitter is an excellent place to start. Get people talking about your product and services, communicate back and forth with other folks in your trade and tweet the latest updates from your offices or shop. Use Instagram to take photos, let out your witty social side and remember to have fun.
6. Facebook. Unlike Twitter, Facebook is a more grounded social media opportunity. It doesn’t work so much as part of a viral campaign as it does a fan page and portal to your official website. Use Facebook to update customers and fans on sales, specials and other fun stuff they can “like.”
7. Website, blog and SEO. Your web presence is essential to your marketing, and a big portion of that is your search engine optimization, or SEO. Reading up on this can help you design a website and put together a blog that Google can find quickly. For instance, if someone searches “coffee” in your neighborhood, SEO can help you be at the top of the list.
8. Trade shows. Trade shows are great for all companies, small and large, but for business-to-business startups, they’re a necessity. Make sure you have promotional pens and business cards on hand because you’ll want to be making connections and handing out cards like crazy.
9. Promotional sale items. Speaking of custom coffee mugs, magnets or other fun items. Or you can consider giving them away…, once you’ve made a name for yourself and have some dedicated clients and customers, why not help them show their love of your brand with cool . Sell T-shirts,
10. Sponsor a local event. Town fair, neighborhood festival, charity fundraiser, local 5K walk – whatever you choose to sponsor, make sure you take advantage of the opportunity with the right promotional giveaways. With giant crowds flowing through the event, this could be your big break. Good luck!
Have your own small business marketing tips? Share them with us!