In Volume 1 of Free Marketing Hints for Small Business Owners I wrote that marketing is about understanding your customers’ needs and putting together and implementing a plan that encompasses those needs, how to satisfy them and help you build your business. The following represents a further list of marketing ideas for you to use to better understand customer needs and ways to satisfy those needs. Like Volume 1, they have been compiled from various sources and are not listed in any particular order. It’s what will work for you that counts and remember again the top 5 “rules” of marketing:
- Never let a day pass without engaging in at least one marketing activity.
- Customers buy for their reasons not yours. Find out their reasons to buy what you’re selling!
- Focus all marketing materials on “what’s in it” for the customer.
- No one has ever found success by doing nothing.
- Hire a Business Coach
Offer An On-line Newsletter: An on-line newsletter via email is an effective low cost way to give value to people, share your knowledge, spotlight your expertise and promote your business. Don’t expect immediate return on your investment. What you can expect is that people will get to know who you are and may eventually use your services. Be sure to ask first if they want to subscribe.
Write A Book: A book is one of the best ways to increase your visibility and credibility. You don’t have to write a 500 page text to be an author. You can start by writing about your experience or expertise, or something you are passionate about. Self publishing a small, informative booklet is a simple way to get started. Make sure that you include your contact information in the book so readers easily know how to reach you.
Fill Your Website With New Content: Glossing over all of the complicated Search Engine Optimization guidelines, Google broadly rewards websites that consistently do two things: keep the content up-to-date, and add new content regularly. You don’t need lots of specialist knowledge about search engine marketing. Just keep adding new pages with fresh content. Make a commitment to adding one new page a week and you will be surprised by how much extra traffic you get after a few months.
Create A Mastermind Group: Meet with 3-5 friends or colleagues on a regular basis to discuss each of your goals, plans and dreams. When a group of people come together, new ideas are created that might not have been discovered alone. Together you will brainstorm new ways to market yourselves and also hold each other accountable. Everyone wins in a mastermind group!
Host A Fundraising Event: This is a way to give back even more to your community and meet some wonderful people at the same time. You could organize a race, a workshop, a raffle…just about anything you can think of to raise money for a good cause. You not only give back, but you also create more awareness about your company. Givers gain!
Send Press Releases To The Media: A press release is a great way to get an interview with the print, radio and TV media. Make sure your press release follows the proper format (e-mail me if you need help). Follow up with phone calls and ask if your press release was received and if you can answer any questions. Stay in touch with editors or reporters and let them know that you are a resource if they ever need information related to your expertise.
Model A Great Life: A healthy, balanced, successful life is extremely attractive! Be an example of someone who is living a great life. Surround yourself with delightful, challenging and exciting people. Notice where you can improve areas of your life, such as relationships, fitness, playtime, finances, and your personal integrity. Then hire a coach like me to support you in taking action! If you “walk your talk,” people will notice and you will begin to attract new clients with ease.
Form “Combo” Alliances: Form an alliance with your suppliers, colleagues or even your competitors to offer a “combo” package that neither of you could offer alone. This way you will share the marketing expenses. Attorneys and accountants can offer compelling packages. For example: A life coach might form an alliance with a gym, weight-loss or stop-smoking program.
Blog: If you can’t think of articles to write for your website, why not blog. It’s a simple way to get relevant content onto your site. A good blog can help to brand you and your business as experts in the field. Much of the most popular blogging technology, such as Blogger or WordPress is free.
Get On YouTube: The video website gets a huge amount of traffic… and best of all, it’s easy and free to get on! Getting noticed on YouTube is often more about creative ideas and executing them well than just spending money. And don’t forget too that the medium is the message and YouTube is hot! Remember to put the video on your own website.
Seek And Use Testimonials: People feel more confident reading about other customers who have had a good experience. Keep testimonials focused on specific results, always get permission to use them and always use the name, company and website of those giving you testimonials.
Give A Guarantee: If you truly believe in your product or service, guarantee it. Offer money back if they’re not 100% satisfied. Yes, a few people will abuse your guarantee, but you’ll attract more business in the first place.
Cross Promote Products and Services: What else could your customers buy from you? Once they have bought from you once, they are in a relationship with you, and are much more likely to buy something else.
Do What The Others Can’t or Won’t: Analyze your competitors and pick the things you think customers demand but no-one delivers. They will probably be hard to execute, but should be worthwhile (and it’s because they’re hard that no-one does them). Talk to customers to find out what they really want.
Sell Gift Cards/Certificates: Everyone loves picking their own gift; if you sell products to consumers make sure you do this. You win with increased cash flow, increased business and heck, you even win if they’re not redeemed (and many aren’t).
Give Your Knowledge Away: The stuff you “just know” in your business is potentially valuable information to others. With the exception of trade secrets specific to your company, freely give knowledge away. Write articles on your website or approach content marketing websites. Tell people exactly how you will help them and don’t be afraid to reveal tools of the trade. Only a handful will steal that knowledge and try to do it themselves, and they’ll never do it as well as you. Education marketing is powerful
Be Seen As The Expert: Offer advice – in person, through your
website, and/or media appearances. Become known as the go-to person for your industry or expertise. Do that by giving free information and controversial statements. If you were saying the same as everyone else why would we listen to you? Be easy to talk to, simple to understand and reachable.
Sponsor A Community Team Charity Or Special Event. Sponsoring is friendlier than advertising. When you advertise we know you are trying to sell us something. When you sponsor a group, cause or event we like – then we are more likely to like you. And we would rather do business with those we like.
Associate With Winners: Be seen and known by successful people and companies. We judge you by who you associate with. If you want to be successful – hang around successful people. Why? Because you will learn from them, they might inspire you, and others will associate you with successful people. You need your game focused on winning – not losing.
Study Your Competition: Know and respect their strengths and weaknesses. Then position yourself to be completely different. Don’t go head to head. Avoid price wars. And stay in touch. John F. Kennedy said, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”
Exceed Expectations: Always under promise and over deliver. Don’t promise what you might not be able to do. That would make you a liar. Is that the way you want to be known? The temptation is to promise too much. Be realistic – then deliver just a little more.
Build, Maintain And Use An Accurate Database: Know who your customers are. Look for patterns and anticipate their need. CRM, database management – whatever you call it – the bottom line is knowing about your customers. Who they are, what they do and when. Use a good computerized customer database system. Use it to track what happened and help you plan the next steps.
Make It Personal: Learn personal information about your customers.
Their sports, hobbies, interest, values and dislikes. How do you feel when you walk into your favorite restaurant the maitre d’ calls you by name, escorts you to your favorite table and brings you your favorite drink? Imagine making your customers feel that good.
Run A Mail-Drop Campaign: Mail-drops can be a very effective and economical way to reach potential customers. You can run your own mail-drop campaign or get a professional company to do it for you although it can be more expensive. Believe it or not, a good response is 2-3 per cent from a direct mail campaign (that’s 20-30 responses per thousand). Typically it costs about $10 per 100 pieces through Canada Post plus the cost of your mailer
Exhibit At Shows: Whether you’re selling a product directly or building awareness of your business getting a booth at a fair/trade show attended by your target market is often a good return on investment. Get face to face with your prospects, plan it well, collect leads and follow them up!!
If you are like most entrepreneurs and small business owners you have a limited marketing budget. That’s where an experienced business coach can help, working with you to create a balanced marketing plan with a series of action steps that will help you meet your goals and without spending a fortune.