Wednesday, January 8, 2014

5 Items To Include In a Marketing Strategy

Those of us that are in business realize that new customers and clients just do not fall into our laps (most of the time).  We have to work to attract new business.  I like Jim Rohn's conversation about a boy with a paper route.  We all need a game plan in life and in business.  Imagine if a youngster with a paper route did not have a plan.  Now imagine if he had the wrong game plan.  Let's say instead of planning his route by street or house number, he delivered the papers alphabetically!  Oh my! That would add a few hours to the route and the business would fail miserably.  The same is true for our business' marketing.  Not only do we need a plan, but the plan must make sense and be productive.  Here are 5 items that should be in every small business' marketing strategy:

1. Networking:  Our business world has moved online, but there is still no replacement for a warm handshake, smile, and eye contact.  In-person networking is one of the best ways to get the word out about our businesses to explain what we do and what a good referral looks like to us.  I highly recommend joining a local chamber and finding a couple of networking groups that you can actually commit your time.  Just joining isn't enough though.  It's important to actually build relationships within the group(s) to attract new referrals so that people know, like, and trust us.

2. Social Media/SEO: By now I think everyone knows that if they are not using social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc) that they are getting left behind. EVERY industry leader (regardless of the industry) is active on social media.  People check their social media accounts several times per day and it's invaluable exposure for any small business to interact with their potential customer base on a DAILY basis.  I put SEO (Search Engine Optimization or Google ranking) in this bullet because it's extremely valuable, but not every business will benefit from it.  It's 100% necessary for service industries like plumbers, landscapers etc, because people use a Google search to find these services. Businesses on the first page of a Google search will earn the business; Simple as that.

3. Email Marketing: Using email services like Aweber to stay in contact with current and potential customers is important because people check their email several times per day.  This "touch" keeps us in sight and in mind with our followers.  It's important to remember not to sell to your email list, but instead, provide value and help them.  This will gain their trust. Obviously sharing coupons and specials is okay, just avoid begging for business.

4. Direct Mail: Yes direct mail still exists and it's actually quite effective if done correctly.  A personal trainer sending out post cards that arrive just before the New Year (when resolutions are being made) can produce a staggering ROI.  I recommend hiring a professional like Bright Side Print and Promotion or WelcomeMat Services to help with these types of campaigns.  Believe it or not, not everyone spends hours online and some prefer their information through the mail.  It's a must that a small business capitalize on this fact.

5. Blogging: I recently added blogging to my social media package because I found that most business owners did not have time to do it themselves and I know the value of blogging.  There is no better way to educate your potential client/customer than through blogging.  Again educating and helping people leads to trust and people love to spend money with those they trust.  There is also an SEO benefit to it because the search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing) love when you A: Help the user and B: update the content on your website on a regular basis.  Here's the best part: You can talk about topics in your blog in networking meetings (30 second commercials), share your blog on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest), email your blog to your subscribers, and mail your blog as a post card.

Putting these 5 things into action immediately and doing them consistently will have any business reaping the benefits by having customers approaching them instead of having to beg or wish for business.  As always, please feel free to elaborate below or add any other ideas with comments below. Thanks for reading!

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