In celebration of Small Business Week, we wanted to share some of the most valuable tips for gaining new clients and marketing a small business. From expensive networking conferences to Facebook advertisements to media coverage, deciding which efforts are most effective can be overwhelming.
When it comes to marketing your business, you have to stop and ask yourself: what is the end goal? Is it attracting new customers? Boosting sales? Raising awareness? Once you have the end in sight, you can begin the process of creating your marketing plan with these 5 steps.
1. Know Your Audience
Many small business owners who are new to the world of marketing are so focused on growing their following and increasing sales that they often forgot about the very first step – understanding their target demographic. Before you can even attempt to reach them, you need to know who they are, what they’re interested in, which sites they visit and when.
How do you go about finding this information you may ask? Well, thanks to the powers of analytics, most of this data is readily available. Google Analytics offers a majority of this information by linking to your website. For social media sites, you can pay for a sponsored post that will appear in your target audience’s newsfeed, at exactly the right time and location for people that have already indicated interest in your services/ products. Contrary to popular belief, many of these advertisements are fairly affordable.
2. Lock Down The Elevator Pitch
We should all understand the importance of an elevator pitch by now. But for those of you handing out lengthy pamphlets on your corporate social responsibility efforts, making 30-minute videos, and sending out e-mails that look more like chapters in a book – please stop. The audience of today doesn’t have the time or attention span to read your material, when there’s a flashy Google glass display around the corner. It’s all about simplicity, fascination and presentation. The model we have found most effective for gaining attention right off the bat is using a one-sentence elevator pitch like this.
“We help [insert target demographic] with [insert their #1 problem] by doing [insert your service/ product/ company mission].
By focusing on the problem and highlighting the benefits you bring to the table, your audience instantly sees the value in buying your product/ service.
3. Find Your Social Self
There are more than 500 million tweets per day and over 900 million pages that Facebook users interact with. So, how do you stand out from the crowd? Well, aside from investing in a social media advertising campaign, you can gain followers by publishing the right kind of content. According to a survey from QuickSprout, below are keywords that you should use in your posts according each social media site:
Twitter: Free, Social Media, Post, New Blog Post, Twitter, Help, 10, Check Out, Media, Please, Follow, Social, How To, Great
Facebook: Deals, Where, When, Take, Post, Comment, Tell Us, Discount, Submit, Would, Inspires, Should, Amuses, Winner, Events
LinkedIn: Created, Increased, Reduced, Improved, Developed, Researched, Accomplished, Won, On Time, and Under Budget
In addition to keywords, there are a few social media protocols to keep in mind for connecting and growing your list of followers.
- Focus on posting high-definition images to share, as photo posts get 39% more interaction
- Keep your posts short because a post under 250 characters gets 60% more likes, comments and shares
- Include a seasonal discount, as 94% of users say that they want deals and promos from brands on Twitter
- Ask your audience questions to build a conversation and engagement
- Tweets with a hashtag receive 2x more engagement than those without one
- Engagement for consumers is higher on the weekends, and engagement for B2B is higher during the weekdays
4. Establish Event Marketing
We have seen a variety of marketing tactics take place at conferences. Everything from booth babes to brightly colored clothing to a variety of swag promotions. Whatever your tactic is, make sure it’s original and catches that particular crowd’s attention. Aside from sponsoring or speaking, here are some ways to stand out of the crowd when attending your next event:
- Think of a fun contest and offer a great prize
- Leverage social media by creating a hashtag about your presence at the event and a Foursquare/Instagram location for your booth
- E-mail your contacts and set up meetings beforehand
- Send out a post-conference happy hour invite
- Wear customized team shirts
- Play music at your booth
5. Accurately Report & Measure Campaigns
Did you know that half of your advertising dollars are wasted, but most business owners don’t know which half? The only way to know is by running individual campaigns, accurately tracking your results, and investing in the efforts that have the highest ROI. This can be determined by the following equation:
Cost of Sale – Cost of Effort + Cost of Employee Hours = ROI
It may seem easy but with so many options, deciding which campaign is the most successful and setting a budget can be a convoluted process. That’s why we suggest using the A/B test theory by running each campaign separately and allocating your budget towards the effort that receives the highest engagement rate (number of clicks divided by the number of impressions).
This effort can come in many forms such as TV/radio/newspaper/digital advertisements, partnerships, editorial, event sponsorship/presentations, telemarketing, media interviews, search engine optimization, social media outreach, press releases, newsletters, blogs, videos, and mobile marketing.
Start with step 1 to determine what medium resonates with your target audience, and let your marketing adventure begin. Good luck and we hope you have a great small business week!