Here Peter Hanley looks at small business marketing strategies and how you can elevate your business without spending a whole heap of money.
Every small business is different yet there are many common factors that are essential to survival.
Your chance of failure in business is about 66%
The SBA states that only 30% of new businesses fail during the first two years of being open, 50% during the first five years and 66% in 10 years.
The biggest cause of failure is lack of planning
I want to cover this advice of first because it relates to marketing.
You need to do two things, a business plan and a cash flow for the next 12 months.
I know a lot of experts will say a 5-year plan but at the current rate of change, I believe that is too far ahead to understand.
If perhaps you need it for a Bank or any reason just grow your one year plan by a reasonable 10% a year in growth.
It will look impressive.
First up, pick your Social medium
Because there are many to choose from it will seem daunting at first but choose something that suits your purpose.
While you may ask why not all of them the answer is simple. You won’t do it!
They all take time and time is scarce so having a selection that meets your plan won’t hurt too much.
LinkedIn is the first choice
First of all is register for LinkedIn, fill out your Bio and that’s that done.
When people want to find out about you LinkedIn is a valued source. It might be a Bank, a lender or supplier so do it properly. Add a nice Photo, write a good BIo and give some interesting information. If you are shy about adding a photo get out of business. This is all about self-promotion and is absolutely essential.
Now for the interesting media
Facebook, Instagram or others?
Let me take you on a journey of success.
My friend a Hairdresser only uses Instagram to market her business. Several posts every day of Ladies Hair just done. Booked out for months ahead.
Kayla Itenes started out on Instagram with a fitness program, Became a
millionaire almost overnight with a Fit body idea.
New Restaurant opened close by after a change of owner. It had a really bad past and failed to attract a client base so they changed the theme completely. From day one an instant hit, When I asked the owner how come the dramatic change he said FACEBOOK.
I follow a few ladies dress shops locally, not because I am into cross dressing or anything like it’s only that I watch the marketing out of interest.
The winning shop by far posts on Facebook about 3-5 times every day.
Yes, 3-5 times every day and she is killing it.
Pick just one media and work it hard.
Why not do them all? My only reason is that it takes time and if you spread so wide it won’t get done. Running a business takes time and so does maintaining your social media and media will lose out every time.
Outsource your media or appoint a full-time adviser. The idea is a sound one, the realities in small business is that You either can’t afford it or won’t do it.
You must, however, maintain one of them with consistency.
An Up to date website with a regular posting
Let’s be clear here in saying you don’t need to spend a lot of money on a website. It does not have to be over flash it just needs to deliver some basic information.
Name of the business, contact details, bio and what you do. That’s not to hard now is it?
The purpose of the website is an entry to your business so you can sell something. It is an electronic calling card that directs traffic to you.
Yes, it can do more and you can get all this for free and learn all about it at Wealthy Affiliate if you need to.
Why have social media and a Website?
The purpose of social media is to entertain and transport interest to your website and hence to you.
Think of it this way. A person comes into your counter and wants to buy something but you say to them check out my Facebook page. So they do, they log in and see all the great posts, then they see someone else they know to go off looking at them, then another etc. You have looked at a feed and wasted time so don’t just entertain your buying customer
That is why I say a Facebook or Instagram or any social media is there to move them to you, not the reverse.
A list. A goldmine most often ignored
Get the name, email address and Mobile phone number of everyone that has contact with you. Your contact list will have a value nearly equal to your business and allow quick contact at any time.
You can do it in a simple excel file or buy an expensive Contact management program just do it.
You can write to them, email them or SMS them to keep in contact.
I said not having a plan was a cause of failure not having a list is there with them.
I had a friend that had a business around tropical fish, things happened and she had to close the business. She walked out with almost nothing after bailing a few fittings. Her closest competitor rang me and wanted to buy her list and was willing to pay good money to get it. It would have been a simple exercise to direct all those customers to the new premises.
Unfortunately, she had no list, she lost out on many thousands of dollars a good list would have delivered. It was sad but true so don’t make this mistake.
Ask for details, put them on your invoices, have a login on your website, run a competition any way you can get the details.
Emails and Newsletters
This is the cheapest form of marketing you can do and still to this day gets results. I have written about this elsewhere so I won’t go deep into the hows but giving you the whys.
Why because it is a form of contact to stay top of mind.
It provides the ability to market a single product.
You can track results
Also, you can obtain referrals.
Referrals in Business
I know this is old Hat but it still remains as a great and inexpensive market.
How do you get referrals? You ask for them in person, in writing, in emails anywhere you can.
Do they work? The answer is in the continued use by all the major retailers across the world. Coffee shops have learned that it brings customers back by offering free coffee for every 9-10 coffees.
So the top end retailers do it and the bottom end coffee shops to in-between must as well.
Non Internet ways
Movement catches the eye so have a few banners or flags outside the business to catch those going past. These are relatively cheap and work really well.
Letter Box Drop
Again we query if they work? Have you ever wondered why they keep doing it, stuffing the letterbox with the promotional material? They do it because it works particularly for local business.