Where to start with marketing for small businesses? Well, a marketing plan is an excellent step forward, offering a route map to next 6 or 12 months or even longer. But, when it comes to actually doing the marketing, what do you need? What marketing tools and avenues are available to you? What materials do you need?
It’s knowing the answers to these questions that will give you something solid to get your marketing teeth into. So, without further ado, let’s start with the core small business marketing tools.
This is your online store window. Keep it clear, informative, and simple/intuitive to use. In terms of its design, innovation is good (you want to stand out) but in terms of functionality don’t stray too far from the norm or people won’t be able to find what they need (and if they become frustrated they won’t be buying from you).
Even if your target market is local, remember that before leaving their front door, many people these days will search and check out options online – simply listing your business on Google Maps and sites like Yahoo Local will boost your local search engine results.
A monthly newsletter is a classic way to engage with existing and potential customers and regularly raise your profile with them. The easiest method these days is of course, to do this via email; just remember to make the content interesting and useful to the reader (and don’t go too heavy on the sales pitches!). Looking for a newsletter provider, check out Mailchimp, Constant Contact or GetResponse.
Whether you’re business is service- or product-based, a blog is your way of demonstrating some expertise and (just like the newsletter) providing helpful and interesting information to your target market (thus establishing you as an authority and therefore trustworthy and reliable).
These types of programs are not just for large businesses like Amazon. A business of any size can offer other website owners a commission for referrals that convert to sales. The half of the marketing equation is having something to say. Knowing the avenues through which you reach your market is all very well, but you then need to be providing them with information that will turn them into customers and clients. What’s more, it’s poor use of time to create such material from scratch each time – any efficient small business has the following documents (up to date, of course) readily to hand as the building blocks of each item of marketing material: