Running a small business can be difficult on its own, adding the weight of marketing on top of that may seem overwhelming. However, with the help of a great marketing professional, it can help make the process easier. Here are some tips and strategies to help you and your team upgrade your marketing for your small business.
Starting a business isn’t easy and your expertise doesn’t usually include marketing. Even if your product is in high demand, it is a challenge to let customers know where and when they can buy it. Limited budget, no time and going up against a big business that has vast resources and employees to spread the word are just some of the obstacles we small business owners face.
Knowing the right way to find new customers can save you from countless hours of wasteful marketing tactics. Here are some specific ways I have learned to compete against the big companies while still meeting budget.
Determine who you are trying to reach.
The first part of having great marketing is knowing who your customer is and where they live. Doing that helps make your message specific to your customers. In defining your customer, you want to find at least two common traits. This often comes from the target market you want and the customer that resonates with you. For example, if you are a dentist and you want to focus on families and it turns out most of your customers are teenage kids, then those two traits become a great target market—families with teenagers.
If your product is brand new and you don’t know who the customer is then you can learn by first going after who you think your target customer is. If you sell wooden toys and you are marketing to young kids, but it turns out that older men are who come to the store to buy the toys, you may realize that grandfathers are actually who you are targeting because they may be nostalgic for wooden toys and buy them for their grandkids. So start somewhere then reassess.
The next part is learning where your customers live. Are they coming from across town or do they live within a 10-minute drive? This will help you to understand why the customer picked you. If they live close, then you know to limit your marketing within a geographic area and not to waste time on marketing outside that radius. If they are coming from across the city, then you know you are offering something unique and can consider a temporary location to accommodate more customers.
Partner with other businesses.
Working with other businesses can be a great way to find new customers. Complimentary products or services can allow you to assist another business while growing yours. If you are located in an office building, look at the other businesses in that building. Perhaps there is a masseuse nearby and you can offer your customers flyers for a massage and, in exchange, the masseuse can offer their customers flyers for your business.
When customers visit your business they may want to get lunch or breakfast. If there is a coffee shop or bakery nearby, provide an option that entices them to visit that shop. Collaborate business marketing so, if a customer visits the coffee shop or bakery, the owners can provide options for their customers to visit your business. Collaborative marketing gives potential customers great recommendations and is beneficial for both businesses.
Offer incentives and rewards.
Offering special promotions and incentives is a great way to attract new customers and increase sales. Anything from discounts, free trials or even prize winnings works. It can also include rewards for repeat customers or for customers who refer a friend. Creating incentives for customers to check out your business can give you an opportunity to shine.
Offering existing customers a discount for sharing with friends is a great way to find potential customers as it puts marketing in your customer’s hands. They know their friends, family and neighbors and can select potential customers. It can be awkward for customers to share, so help them with an easy way to approach people. One idea is a big sale where friends get an exclusive discount—something that makes it seem like your customer is doing their friend a favor.
There are also social media platforms that help customers share your message. Learning to use social media and other tools available can help reach customers who wouldn’t have otherwise found you. Technology can provide great marketing. Offering discounts or promotions that your customers can “like” or “share” can help get the word out and your existing customers can “like” or “share” your content, as well.
Keep track of what works and what doesn’t work. There are many analytic tools to help in measuring success and results. Keeping track of the different tactics you attempted during the month will be very beneficial. Adding in sales comparisons will help you see if the marketing two months ago actually worked this month. Oftentimes marketing is an investment, so it takes a few months to see the return on your efforts.
When you find something that is working, you can fine-tune it to be more impactful. Not every business is the same, so finding the best way to attract and retain customers is a process that gets easier over time.
Original article published on forbes.com