In survey after survey, when business owners are asked what they need most, small business marketing help is always at the top of the list. That’s no surprise. Unless you’re actually a marketing professional, you started your business because you’re good at something else – baking pastries, construction work, accounting, dentistry, merchandising.
But whatever products or services you sell, marketing is critical to grow your business. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by all the advertising and promotion options out there, and you probably have a limited budget. No wonder you need small business marketing help.
Here are some tips to guide you toward smart, sensible decisions.
You have to allot some money for marketing.
Zero gets you nothing, and that’s not a strategic plan for growth. Yes, there are no-cost ways to promote your business, but they’re more often useful for building name familiarity than generating direct sales. You need both. So set a budget, even if it’s small, and evaluate your marketing options based on the return on investment you’ll receive, not just the up-front cost.
Small business marketing help starts with a website.
A recent survey showed that 52% of small businesses do not have a website. In a world where the vast majority of people now search online to find specific businesses as well as to learn about products and services, you have to be where you can be found. Not having a website is like not having a sign. Or business hours. Creating a website and keeping it up-to-date should be a priority.
Join the Chamber of Commerce.
Chamber membership is priced for small business affordability, and it’s a place where you’ll find multiple opportunities to promote your business. Attend as many networking events as you can, to build your business branding and make a personal connection with other local business people. They could become customers or clients, and they can be a valuable source of referrals. When you can’t attend, send an employee to further “personalize” your business.
Put a “proud member” icon on your website home page – along with insignias of the BBB or trade associations you belong to – to add credibility to your business.
Many small businesses can’t afford traditional print or broadcast advertising, and that’s OK because your customer base may not be that broad anyway. But have you considered something like postcard marketing? It’s been around for decades, so you may think it’s “old hat,” but postcards are actually tremendously popular with a wide variety of small businesses.
Postcard marketing is highly targetable and very affordable — perfect for ongoing business-building campaigns as well as getting the word out about your annual blow-out sale.
Check up on your online directory listings.
Aside from your Google+ page – yes, you definitely need one — there are a number of free online business directories where you should be listed. Taking a few minutes to ensure the information about your business is correct on all these sites ensures you won’t miss out on opportunities to reach new customers.
Track your marketing results.
An amazing 56% of small business owners say they don’t bother to measure the results of their marketing. You can’t know the return you’re getting on your marketing investment if you don’t track your response. You can’t engage with prospects and customers one-on-one if you don’t know who they are or how to contact them. Without analyzing your results, you won’t be able to improve your marketing.
When in doubt about small business marketing help, consult a pro. A full-service direct mail company can help you determine if postcard marketing is right for your business, and an inbound marketing company can help ensure you have the online tools your business needs. Never be afraid to ask for help, and be prepared to take action on the advice you receive.