What are the keys to small business marketing? There are many but one of the critical keys to successfully marketing a small business is knowing what marketing methods to use. For every business it will vary what are the best marketing methods to use. For some, print advertising will be very effective, for others it will not and radio will be the most effective. I do believe though that there are some marketing mediums that all small businesses should use.
Recommended Must Use Mediums For Small Business Marketing
1. A Website
I am going to assume most of my readers know what a website is but for someone who is new to the internet I will describe it briefly here. What you are reading right now is a website. To create one for your business you will need someone to design it (which requires graphics and computer coding) as well as someone to host your website (in essence where it will be stored so that people on the internet can always access it).
People now spend more time on the internet then watching TV. The internet is the number one place people go to find information on products and services. If you do not have a website it is like not having a sign on the front a retail store. No it is even worse. A website is like having an online sales professional working for your business 24/7. Websites are also so inexpensive you will probably pay back your website costs in 3-6 months.
How To Get It:
1. Use a low cost online service like 99designs. I really like this service because multiple designers actually submit concepts and you get to pick the best one.
2. Outsource it on a website like Elance.com to have it inexpensively created
3. Hire an employee to do it on a website like Monster or Workopolis.com
4. For hosting I would recommend GoDaddy as this is the company I use and they have outstanding customer support. Even if you know nothing about websites they can get you up and running. Another good alternative to GoDaddy is Blue Host. P.S. The link to Blue Host is an affiliate link that I will receive a small commission from if you chose to click on it and purchase from Blue Host.
2. Email Marketing
Again I am sure most people know what this is but there are still people who are not aware that email can be used for marketing your business. If you are one of these people that is okay. How most companies use email to market their products or services by sending newsletters or automated marketing emails that are triggered by certain actions (ie when prospects go to a certain page on your website or abandon their shopping cart on your website). Within the newsletters are provided useful information to the reader so that they want to continue to read your emails. This keeps your company top of mind for when they are ready to buy. Occasionally companies will also provide specials or offers within their newsletters. Within the automated marketing emails are messages specific to the action that was taken. (ie if the person went to your page that shows the accounting software you sell, the person would get an email maybe highlighting the benefits of your accounting software or a special discount if they buy your accounting software)
Email is another very low cost marketing method. Because the cost is so low, it requires very few customers to be generated as a result of it for it to have a positive return on investment. One study conducted said email marketing generates $59 dollars in revenue for ever dollar of cost. What also makes it so powerful is that it allows you to continually get your name and products/services in front of prospects. Given the average prospect needs to see a message 7 times before it sticks, using a newsletter can be one of the few marketing tools where you can very economically ensure a message is sent to the same prospect multiple times. It is hard to say which of the five marketing methods on this list would have the highest average return on investment, but there would be a strong case for email marketing.
How To Get It:
There are multiple low cost email marketing service providers online. I would recommend either Aweber or Constant Contact. Both systems are easy to learn, have great reporting features and also look after managing your subscriber lists. I think Aweber also has an offer on right now where you can sign up for $1 for a one month trial, so I would suggest trying that one for your first month.
3. Facebook Page And Group Page
Facebook is the number 1 social media site where friends connect, interact with each other and stay in touch. A Facebook page is a place on Facebook where you can basically create a mini webpage for your business within the walls of Facebook. This mini webpage works very similar to your Facebook profile (if you have one and know what that is). On your Facebook page for your business you can also add additional applications to add additional functionality. For example if you offer a free marketing plan template, you could add an application that allows users of your marketing plan template to rate what they think of it. (When I was writing this I just thought of this. I think I might have to add this at some point for my free marketing plan template). To see an example of a Facebook page you can view the Profitworks Facebook page. A group page is very similar but instead of being for a business it is for a group of people that have a common interest. A great way to take advantage of groups is to create a group that is relevant to your business. An example would be a baseball players group if you sell baseball gloves.
Facebook is now the number one visited website in most countries in the world. That means there are a lot of people going into Facebook every day. This is significant but not the only reason I would recommend this as a must use marketing vehicle. The real reason why I am recommending it is that Facebook pages and group pages are free, you only need to set them up once (so they take minimal effort), and they allow you to repeatedly get your name in front of prospects. Facebook can get your company repeatedly in front of prospects because every time you post something on a page it will show up on everyone's news feed that "like" your company page or are "members" of your group page. In addition if anyone write on your company page or group page, that message will show up on everyone's news feed who is friends with that person. So if someone with 500 friends posts something on your company page, that message will show up in the news feed of their 500 friends. I am sure you can see the power in this.
How To Get It:
Login to your facebook account. If you do not have one go to www.facebook.com to create one for free. Once logged into your account look on the left for the buttons "Ads and Pages" and "Create Group". If you do not see these buttons click on the word "More" at the bottom of the buttons on the left of your screen after you have logged in. To create a group click on the "Create Group" button and follow the instructions. To create a Facebook Page click on the button "Ads and Pages", then once you are in the Ads and Pages section click on the button "Pages" on the left. Or you can just go to this url https://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php?ref_type=sitefooter. If you are having trouble there is also a lot of great videos on youtube that can show you how to do it. Here is one I found call "How to create a Facebook page"
4. Google Places Page
A page that is assigned to your businesses address within Google maps. On this page can be your contact information, website address, hours of operation for your business, pictures, videos and even electronic coupons. To view an example of a Google places page view my customer Gold Roast's places page.
Again this is a no cost marketing vehicle that you only need to set up once. It might take you 1 hour to set up and then you have it forever. Google place pages also often show up very high in Google when people are doing searches that are either location based or when they include a city name in their search. In essence it is today's yellow pages except it is more powerful then the yellow pages ever were. The yellow pages are rarely used today because they have been replaced with the internet and Google place pages.
How To Get It:
Go to http://www.google.com/places/ and follow the instructions. The more information you fill out the easier Google will be able to find your places page and the more search terms your places page will show up for. So you want to put in as much information as you can.
5. A Referral System
A system put in place to get people (customers, partner, colleges, friends etc) to send you referrals for your business.
Referrals are the number one source of new customers for most businesses. Referrals are effective because people trust other people. Many business owners I have spoken with tell me their best marketing program is their referral system. It just makes sense to have a system in place to maximize the results from the #1 source of new customers.
How To Get It:
Set one up with your customers, key contacts or people in a networking group, if you are part of one. A great way to get the word out about a large scale referral program is email. If you are going to be more targeted, an in person interaction works best to review how your system works. There are multiple types of referral networks. I think that whole topic could be an article in itself. I guess i will have to write an article on referral systems sometime. Check back in the future and hopefully I will have a blog for you on different types of referral systems
I would argue all small businesses should include all five of these items as part of their marketing plan. I would never recommend that this be the only methods included in the plan though. Beyond these five it will vary by business which additional activities should be added. The reason I recommend all small businesses use more then these five is that it has been proven that a higher number of marketing methods is usually more successful then if a company only executes five or less. In order to determine which additional marketing activities to add to your mix you need to look at your target market, your marketing strategy, the project return on each potential activity, and then test the best activities on your list on a small scale. After the testing keep any of the activities that perform well and increase spending and focus behind the ones that worked the best. If you need help creating your marketing plan download my free marketing plan template.
My name is Chris R. Keller and I work at Profitworks where I help various B2B small businesses in Waterloo and Kitchener, Ontario generate new customers. If you are interested in generating new customers for your B2B small businesses enter your email in the box provided below and click the "Send Me Free Updates" button.
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