When it comes to marketing, there is sadly no cure-all technique that will bring customers flooding in, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t proven techniques that work. Whether you are a franchisee or an owner of a small business, solid marketing takes more of a “little here, little there” strategy rather than placing all your marketing dollars on one form of advertising. Let these ten practical tactics help get you started:
1. Build a great website – Many would argue nothing is more important to your business than a clean, engaging, user-friendly website. Your website should be the hub of all online marketing, and should be where customers will find you better than anywhere else. Your customers are not checking phone books anymore. The first place they go is online, so make sure you are there, loud and proud with a strong website. A great website may cost a few thousand dollars, but this is marketing money better spent than probably any other way.
2. Get on the Facebook train – True, Facebook works better for some industries than others, but even though your dental office won’t get as many LIKES and SHARES as maybe a freelance photographer, it’s still important for all businesses to engage with customers through this realm of social media. Facebook is a quick and easy way to send instant announcements to your customers, to be found in internet searches and to let your business’ personality shine through. Plus, it’s free! Facebook also provides a great avenue for your customers to share your business with their friends, and we all know word-of-mouth marketing is the best kind.
3. Utilize email marketing – Emails are still one of the most effective tools to communicate with your customers. A basic email publishing platform is relatively inexpensive and can be one of the best investments you’ll make. Use emails to tell your customers about sales, new features of your business, and to remind customers you’re still there, ready and anxious to see them again.
4. Make sure your product is solid – Nothing will market your product better than the product itself. If your product or service is less than par, focus all your energy on fixing that before you ruin your reputation through great marketing toward a bad product. No amount of marketing will help you sell square tires, so round those babies out before anything else.
5. Invest in SEO – Now that you spent a lot of money to get a beautiful, engaging website, make sure people can find it with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This can be a spendy form of marketing, but if you can’t fit it in your budget, research the topic so you can at least do the basics yourself. By implementing just a few tactics of SEO, you’ll help your site fight through the competition to be ranked higher when your customers search for your services online. Speaking of competition…
6. Research your competition – Few people know your industry better than your competitors. Research not only how they are marketing to their customers, but what they are marketing. How do their prices compare? What services are they offering that you aren’t? By researching the competition, you’ll not only discover where you need to be spreading your message, but what you need to do to beat it.
7. Start a Pinterest account – Pinterest is one of the fastest growing social media platforms, and can be one of the best ways to drive traffic to your site. Pinterest is especially useful if your product is visually appealing or targeted to women as Pinterest is one giant digital pin board of pictures linking to websites, and the majority of users are female. If you’re a chiropractor, accountant, or mechanic, you might have more success with LinkedIn, the networking social media site. Businesses such as bakeries, furniture stores, clothing brands and photographers, however, will find Pinterest invaluable. Start by pinning interesting things that relate to your industry as well as your own products, and you’ll have an interested group of followers in no time. Added perk: it’s free!
8. Claim your Yelp page (and other online review pages) – Yelp is an online review site designed to give customers honest reviews about local business in their city. It can be a business owner’s best friend or worst enemy, but Yelpers (as they’re called) will leave reviews about you whether you set up a page or not. By claiming your page (or setting one up if nobody did it for you), you can put information about your business on the site as well as respond to reviews. Many smartphones use Yelp to locate businesses, so make sure your address is correct or you could have a lot of angry customers going to the wrong place.
9. Create a spectacular customer experience – This one may take a little creativity, but by building a unique and unexpected (in a good way) customer experience, you give your customers the opportunity and desire to do your marketing for you. At Kid to Kid, a children’s resale clothing franchise, every location is required to have a little pink door next to the main entrance designated for kids only. Once inside the store, kids are welcomed to the play area while their parents shop, and are given a free sticker that soon parades Kid to Kid’s logo around town for the rest of the day. These small things create a memorable experience that customers naturally tell to their friends.
10. Publish content with a blog – Content marketing is a great way to attract customers to your business, and one of the best ways to do this is through a blog. By constantly posting content about your industry, you prove to your customers you are the expert in the field, and who doesn’t want to buy from an expert? This type of marketing is also great for search rankings for your website, and is an effective way for gaining email subscribers to continue the combination.