This 8500 word monster article was contributed by Sneha Mittal.
Entrepreneurship comes with its own set of challenges and with so many options out there, it might be difficult for you to master all aspects of the business.
Marketing is evolving each day and even more with the technological evolution changing the way consumers live. When done right, marketing can help your business grow rapidly.
Are you a business owner who wants to grow your business but doesn’t know much about marketing? Do you want to attract more customers to your business? Do you want a quick checklist of things you can do to grow your business?
In this post we offer you a complete marketing checklist you can use to grow your business:
Ultimate Small Business Marketing Guide Overview
Click to jump to your desired section.
- Naming, Logos & Branding
- Your Product / Service
- Marketing Planning Basics
- Online Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- Content Marketing
- Grow Your Network
- Customer Focused
- Physical Evidence
Naming, Logos & Branding
Have a simple name
Naming your business can be stressful. Once you choose a name, you may never be able to change it again, hence, it is very important to select a name for your business which can stand the test of time. Think of your target audience and decide what kind of name you should be looking for. Ask yourself, if the name should be something professional or fun? Should it include the details of what my business offers? How do I want people to feel when they listen to this name? Should it be a long name or a short catchy one? Once you know the answers to these questions, look for business name ideas and finalize the one which best fits your criteria.
Create your own logo
A logo defines your company’s identity and defines what your business stands for. It’s an easily recognizable symbol which when used across communication materials, communicates ownership. A memorable logo design can quickly grab customers attention and pique their interest in the product. Hence, it is important to have a logo which distinguishes you from the competition and facilitate brand loyalty. Learn: How much for a logo design?
Find a catchy tagline
Next step in the branding process is to create a catchy tagline which describes your unique selling points and key benefits. When the customers come across your logo, the next thing they seek is a quick description of the business which can tell them if it is what they were looking for. It helps you differentiate your brand and helps your customers in recognizing your business. When trying to create a catchy tagline for your business, write down your USPs and try to sum them in a single line of fewer than 10 words. Use this tagline in your marketing communication.
Choose colors carefully
Colors hold a significant meaning in marketing and human psychology. Colors can help you stand out while a poor color choice can have a negative impact on your business. Colors broadly align with specific traits and aligning your colors with the the type of personality you want to portray for your brand can help boost conversions. In addition, color trends for men and women are also different. Hence, depending on your target audience you can choose which colors you want to use in your logo and associate with your brand.
Stand for something
Branding is all about figuring out what your brand stands for and what kind of values and beliefs your brand portrays. Your values are the core of what you do and how you do it. People like brands that they can relate to and the brands which have similar core beliefs as they do. See here for more branding benefits.
Decide what values and beliefs you want people to think of when they think about your brand, and stand for those values. All your business actions should be a reflection of what you want your brand to stand for.
The consistency of your communication across channels helps in building a strong brand. When you know what your brand stands for, you should be consistent in communicating those values in your communication materials. Your logo should be printed on all materials, your designs should be in sync with your brand colors and your business name should be included across all materials. Maintaining the consistency of your brand elements will help in making them more prominent and will leave a long-lasting impact on your customer’s mind.
Build your buyer persona
A buyer persona is a fictional representation of how your ideal customer should look like. A buyer persona can help you understand your customer’s needs and help you tailor your marketing content to their needs. When trying to create a buyer persona, try to define details like their age, demographic, lifestyle, occupation status, family status, their goals, challenges, education, shopping preferences, etc. If your product/service caters to different customer segments, then you can create a buyer persona for each segment. Once your buyer persona is ready, you will understand their challenges and needs and can then tailor your marketing content according to their requirements.
Craft your own story
Storytelling is a powerful tool for any business. A great story about your product or service can leave an everlasting impact and increase customer retention of your business. If you’re worried that you’re not a great storyteller, then don’t worry.
Every story needs 5Cs: circumstances, curiosity, characters, conversation, and conflict. So, when creating a story lay out the circumstances, set the context, generate curiosity with questions and headlines, use conversations between characters to generate the story and last but not the least generate conflict to reach a solution with your products/services.
Your Product / Service
Identify your main competitors in your market, and shortlist a few of them which appear to be your direct competitors. Spend at least an hour every week to find out what marketing activities they’re doing and how their business is performing. This will help you in keeping your product/service relevant to customers and to identify the gaps in the market.
Find your unique selling point
Find out what makes you stand out from your competitors and focus your marketing materials in communicating about your unique selling points (commonly referred to as USP in marketing lingo). Start by analyzing your competitors and studying their marketing communication materials to find which USPs they sell. Then focus on finding what makes you unique and show that to your customers in all your promotions.
At the beginning of your business, you’re focused on delivering high-quality products and great customer service to your customers because you want to acquire more and more customers. It’s easy to lose the quality as the business grows. If you sell products, maintain the quality standards of the industry and get industry certifications for your product. If you’re selling a service, then focus on recruiting and training staff to deliver high-quality services.
Find your target audience
Identifying your target audience is the most important stage of your marketing plan. A wise place to start is to ask yourself “What problem does my product/service solve?”. Once you identified what solution your product/service provides, try to get more clarity on who are you trying to sell your product to by identifying aspects of your target customers like the age bracket, demographics, gender, location, education, occupation status, etc. of your potential customers. Having a clear target audience will form the basis of selecting your marketing channels and creating your marketing communication materials.
Define your product mix
Once you know what kind of customers you’re targeting, try to identify the complementary products which can be sold along with your product/service. For example, many small salon businesses sell beauty products like shampoo, hair gel, conditioners, etc. along with their services. This will help you in increasing your revenue without additional efforts.
Marketing Planning Basics
Create a marketing plan
With a large list of possible marketing activities you can undertake for your business, it’s easy to feel lost and confused. Create a basic marketing plan where you list down all the activities you can do to grow your business. Prioritize these tasks according to the impact and efforts required. This will help you to focus on the most important activities which have a high impact and require low efforts.
Break down big tasks to create a weekly checklist
Once your planning is complete, you can create weekly checklists of the tasks you want to focus on in that particular week. Break down the big tasks into smaller activities, and keep out at least an hour or two every day to work on your marketing activities.
Test and repeat
What works for company A and company B may or may not work for you. Therefore, it is always important to test out your ideas on a small scale first. Use the test and repeat cycle for your marketing efforts.
Build your website
People spend 1 out of 7 days online browsing and consuming new content (Source). Creating a business website will build your credibility and provide you with a platform to talk to your potential customers about your business.
Setting up a website is quite easy these days. You don’t need to have a technical background to create your website. You can simply use pre-designed themes and add information about your business. If you’re new to website creation, here are 25 important features you should include in your business website.
Set up Google Analytics
Website analytics provide you with insights into what your customers do when they visit your website. Google Analytics is a free tool which allows you to analyze this behavior by simply adding a small piece of auto-generated code to your website home page.
When you understand what customers are doing, you can modify your website to create an easy navigation experience. The analytics data will also tell you which type of content is most read and shared on your website. And you can use this data to focus on creating similar content in the future.
Find relevant keywords
Keywords are ideas and topics which define what your content is about. What use is a website when no one visits it? Adding relevant keywords to your website content can increase your visibility over the internet.
If you’re not sure where to start, you can use this free keyword research tool to get keyword suggestions for your website. Viewing the keyword along with their search volume can also help you understand what type of content your customers may be looking for.
Get free SEO reports
Search engine optimization, commonly referred to as SEO is the process of getting traffic from search results on all search engines including Google, Bing and Yahoo. When you create online assets for your business like the website, you need more people to be able to locate your website and find out more about your business. When you include relevant keywords in the content, then you make your business easily discoverable.
You can conduct a free SEO audit for your website to find out which areas you can modify on your website to reach a wider audience. Small steps like adding relevant image tags, meta tags or title tags on your website can help your SEO efforts.
Use A/B testing
A/B testing is the technical term for testing two or more variations for the same page, ad text, headline, call to action text or any element on your webpage. Setting up the test for the first time may require some technical understanding, but once you understand how to set up the test it’s easy to reiterate it.
With A/B testing the system will automatically display two variations of your page to your visitors. After certain days, you can see which of the variation attracts more attention and gives you better conversion.
Advantages of A/B testing include improved content engagement, reduced bounce rates, increased conversions and sales for your business.
Track your online reputation
You should be aware when people are talking about your business online. You can thank them for leaving you a good review and solve their issues if they have complaints, but how do you track what people are saying about you? You can use free tools like :
- Google alerts can be customized to send you a notification when any new content is added for the keywords you specify. You can also use this to monitor your competitors.
- Yext is a great tool if you’re a physical retail business. It allows you to manage your online listing on review sites to ensure that your information on these websites is up to date.
- Another great tool is Go Fish Digital, which allows you to track any negative experiences with your website.
Monitor your statistics
Your website traffic can help you in building your online credibility, and monitoring your statistics will help you in understanding consumer behavior. Watch statistics like the number of pages per visitor, average time spent on your website and on each page, bounce rate, sources from where your visitors found you and your most popular landing pages. Understanding these statistics can help you improve your website content, and hence attract more traffic to your website.
Search frequent words on Google
A great way to find out what your customers are searching for online is to use the google search bar. When you type the starting few words of your query, Google suggests ways to complete the query and those are the most frequently searched terms on Google. You can use these keywords in your website and advertisements to reach the right audience. In addition, you can use the free tool Google Trends to find out the search volume for your most important keywords
Set up Google Ads
Google Ads is an online advertising platform by Google which allows businesses to show ads to potential customers who search on Google. Google Ads are a great way to reach out to people who’re searching for your product at the right point of time. Google Ads allows you to target certain keywords and create customized advertisements for these keywords.
Each time a consumer searches for a term or a phrase that you have added to your list, Google can display your ad above the organic search results. This will improve your chance of being found by new consumers.
Set up Bing Ads
Bing Ads are similar to Google Ads, but they help you in reaching customers who are searching on Bing and Yahoo sites. If your consumers are located in the U.S. then you can achieve better results from Bing Ads at a lower cost than Google Ads.
Once you understand the basics of Google Ads, you can also set up your Bing Ads account in a similar manner. You can also schedule a free call with Bing Ads expert to understand more about how Bing Ads can help you grow your business.
Advertise in niche print media
Print media continues to be valuable wherever there is physical consumer presence. Print is target-specific medium and you can benefit from advertising in niche print media for reaching a broader yet relevant audience. Niche magazines have a dedicated market, and advertising in those will help you reach your target market in an efficient way.
Magazines are a great way to engage readers, and publishing interesting content with a mention about your business can help you increase brand awareness. Print medium also has a longer shelf life, so effectively your ROI may sometimes prove amazing as compared to online advertisements.
Add an effective call to action button
What good are your products and services if nobody knows where to find them on your website? You can urge customers to take an action when visiting your website with attractive call to action buttons. Some examples of call to action include “Buy Now”, “Hurry! Limited time offer”, “Try it now” and “Read More”. See here for tips on CTA microcopy.
With an effective call to action text, you generate a sense of urgency in the mind of the customer which then results in better conversions. A successful call to action has three main features which are the placement on the website, the design of the button and the text used on the button. You can play around with each of the features to see what works best for your business.
Create a promotional video
Although a promotional video is a popular way of promoting your business, many small business owners shy away from the idea. The attention span of customers is growing smaller, and hence a promotional video can help you attract more customer attention with less efforts.
Nowadays, many affordable options available in the market who can make the video for your business. A promotional video can help you reach a broader audience. It’s a one time investment which is also long lasting.
Create your personal booking system
If your business offers services to your customers then a great way to promote business is to get an online appointment booking system like SuperSaaS. It works great for sales teams, individual lawyers, driving instructors, repair professionals, etc. who offer individual services and for session booking services like yoga classes, coaching sessions, tour operators, bnb homes who offer customers to book a session with them or a particular resource.
The system allows you to set your availability, monitor booking statistics, send automated reminders and notifications, integrate it into your website, accept online payments, sync with personal calendar and set cancelation policy.
You can customize your booking schedule with your colors and logo, customize booking forms and share the system with your staff members. Another great feature of the system is that you can coordinate multiple schedules automatically with the system which saves you a lot of manual efforts, hence, resulting in improved revenue.
Claim your free Google listing
Google my business is a free tool by Google which allows you to manage how your business appears on Google Search and Google Maps. You can claim you free Google Listing and customize your business details like business name, location and business hours. You can add photos for your business and monitor and respond to customer reviews on Google. It’s a great way to improve the discoverability for your business.
Free Business Listings
A simple and easy way to reach more customers is to claim free business listings on multiple websites like Yelp, Yellow pages, Bing Places, Foursquare, Yahoo Local, etc. You can research the internet to find the directories where your competitors are listed and ensure that you’re also listed on the same websites. Many websites allow you to create a free account and add your business information. Listing your business on multiple websites will also help your SEO efforts.
Offer free trials
A free product trial can result in a win-win situation for both you and your customers. While you invest your money in giving out free product trial, your customers invest their time in learning more about your product. When you offer free trials you’re showing your customers how your product/service works instead of telling them about it in a speech. Experience is always a great way to reduce aggressive selling efforts and increase customer satisfaction. A great product will sell itself and attract more customers with word of mouth marketing.
Contests are a great way to generate buzz about your business and increasing your fan base online. You can engage with your customers with interesting contests. Here are the steps to design a contest for your business:
- Decide what’s the aim of your contest. The aim could be something like increasing Facebook followers or reaching more people.
- Finalize your budget for the prizes and decide how many prizes you can give away in that budget.
- Next, build your contest. Think of an interesting idea which people would like to talk about or something which may also help your business. For example, if you’re a yoga studio you may ask people to tweet about “Yoga is important because…”.
- Once you’ve finalized your contest details, create your promotion plan. Do you want to limit the contest to Twitter or is it a contest in print media or do you want to use multiple platforms to promote the same.
- Once everything falls into place, decide the basic ground rules and the timelines for the contest and create creatives around the contest.
- You’re ready to conduct the contest. Once your contest is over, measure the results to see your ROI (return on investment).
Respond to reviews
Irrespective of whether the review is positive or negative, reviews are an important part of your business. The majority of customers search for business information online, and a few negative reviews may hinder your progress. Hence, it is important for you not only monitor reviews but also build a 2-way communication via reviews by responding to them. This will tell your potential customers that you care about your business and their complaints are being heard.
Festivals and occasions are an outstanding opportunity to promote your business and reach a wider audience. You can select a few target festivals in the year, and conduct marketing activities around those areas. You can set up booths in festivals, setup product demonstrations, connect with people to answer their queries and try to engage them in conversations. You can also conduct fun and interactive activities or sponsor some smaller activities during the festival. Don’t forget to collect customer information and reach out to them later to tell them more about your business.
Price your products
Irrespective of what product/service you’re selling, the pricing will have a direct impact on the success of your business. Hence, it is important to choose your pricing strategy carefully. Though pricing strategies may appear complex, some basic rules to finalize your pricing are pretty simple. Your price should at least cover your basic production and distribution cost. You can research the market to find out the profit percentage charged by your competitors, and decide to charge similar, lower or higher according to your product quality. You should review your prices regularly and keep a close watch on the market to see the impact of your pricing strategy on your sales.
Positioning impacts pricing
In the earlier steps, we found our target market and created a buyer persona. You will finalize your product positioning according to both these factors, and it will then have a direct impact on pricing. For example, if you want to position your product as a premium product for females of age 35-55 years of age, you cannot price your product cheaper than the existing products in the market.
A study by the CMO council reveals that 71% of the internet users in the U.S. were influenced by coupons and discounts when making their purchase decisions. In order to encourage trial for new customers you can offer limited seasonal coupons and sign-up discounts offers. You can use free graphic design tools like Canva if you want to print out your coupons. If your business requires online booking system like yoga classes, fitness studio, venue or resource rentals, photography studio, etc. then you can use a system like SuperSaaS and create your own digital coupons to offer discounts to customers while booking with you.
Whether it’s about watching a new TV series or buying a new watch, we trust people closest to us. That’s the reason referrals work great for any business. If you have happy customers, request them to refer you to at least 3 new customers and incentivize these referrals with some complementary products or services. You can also choose to offer referral bonus or a part of sales from the referral to your existing customers. This will help you grow at a much faster pace and acquire long-term customers.
Offer seasonal discounts
It’s a proven fact that customers tend to spend more in the holiday or festival time. You can offer seasonal discounts to promote your products and encourage new customers to try out your product/service. A great way to generate excitement around your seasonal discounts is to add a seasonal flavor to your packaging or your promotional material. For example, if you’re promoting a Christmas discount you can add Christmas decorations or Santa Claus figures on your communication to match the festival.
Research payment methods
The digital economy is growing and people are becoming more and more comfortable with paying online. Accepting online payments is advantageous for you since you get paid instantly in your bank account. If you’re conducting your business online, then you can research payment methods like PayPal, Strip, Mollie to accept payments from your customers. Most of these payment providers also offer multi-currency support which works great when you expand your business to other areas.
Create pricing rules or offer transparent pricing
If your service is in-demand more on some days and less on other days, a great way to get more profit is to create pricing rules and offer varied pricing. In this way, you can encourage customers to book you in the off-peak hours and will also help you generate more revenue from customers who do book your services in the peak hours. However, this model is not suitable for all types of businesses.
If you offer a product in the market which goes through a distribution channel, then it’s better to offer transparent pricing with no hidden-costs. Customers appreciate honest and transparent communication and it helps them build trust in your brand.
Consider email marketing
Email marketing is still a cost-effective solution which helps you reach your customers at the right time. People like to do business with people and brands they know, recognize and trust. You can use emails to share helpful and informative content with your users which will add to your credibility as a trustworthy resource. There are many free tools available in the market which allow you to automate your emails like MailChimp, Zoho, Mailjet, etc. Automating your emails will save you time and cost, yet delivering results for your business.
Send follow up emails
A great way to improve retention of your business information in your customer’s mind is to send follow-up emails. Follow-up emails reminds customer of the important information, creates a place for them to find more information about your business and it shows that you care about the interaction with your customers.
Optimize for mobile
Emails are now opened more on mobile than on desktop and emails that display incorrectly on mobile are deleted within the first three seconds. Hence, it is important for you to optimize your emails for mobile devices. Do not overload them with heavy images and a lot of text. Try to keep your emails simple, informative and mobile-friendly to improve opening rates for your emails.
Show, just don’t tell
You love your business, because you spent a lot of time in building it and bringing it to where it is today. Customers don’t necessarily share the same enthusiasm about your business. You have limited attention time from your customer. Make sure, you make the most out of it by adding fun content and images to your email rather than creating a long information overloaded email. If you want to share a lot of information, a great way is to create a blog post around the topic, and add the link to the post in your email. This will also generate more traffic for your blog and website and give interested customers a chance to know more about your business.
Have one clear subject
The subject line of your email decides if the email will be opened or not. Irrespective of how interesting your email is, no one will open it unless the subject is catchy and to the point. Choose a crisp and precise subject line which tells your customers what to expect in the email. Remember, do not try to fool your customers by forming an interesting headline for your email which is completely unrelated to the email just to ensure your emails are opened. This will result in lost credibility for your business and reduce customer trust in your business.
Make your message skim-mable
Customers receive a lot of marketing emails these days, which has reduced their attention span even further. Customers may spend only a few seconds to glance over your email, so make sure your content is properly structured. When you content is structured well, your customers can easily skim through the email to find the important and relevant sections for them.
Subscribe to competitors products
A great way to stay in touch with your competitors marketing strategy is to subscribe to your competitors service or use their product. Most successful companies tend to communicate with their customers via email and inform them of any updates and changes. When you subscribe to their blog or email list, you can easily understand stay updated with what activities they undertake to reach out to their customers and promote their products. Create email tags or a new email ID to keep track of these emails in a single place.
Send test emails before launching the campaign
Whether you’re creating a new email from the scratch or using the predefined template, it’s always important to test the email before sending it out to your customers. Send the email to a few of your colleagues and check if the email opens correctly across all devices. Also, check for broken links and spelling + grammar errors. A broken link or a grammatical error can leave a negative impact about your business.
Social Media Marketing
Find out where your customers are more likely to hang out
Once you have established what your target customers look like, and who your major competitors are you can easily find out which social media platforms are frequently used by your audience. Don’t try to build your presence on all platforms, rather focusing on one single platform will help you reduce efforts and focus on your audience.
Create your Facebook page
Irrespective of your industry, create an official Facebook page for your business. It’s free to create and you can use the page for official announcements and for promoting your discounts and offers.
Claim your vanity URL for the facebook page
When you claim your Facebook page, your page URL looks something like www.facebook.com/pages/business/84682376?ref=ts. Once your page reaches 25 likes, you can claim your vanity URL which looks something like www.facebook.com/YourBusinessName. This makes it easier for you to promote your Facebook page in your marketing material.
Create your Twitter account
Twitter is a great platform to reach out to new customers and generate brand awareness. Create a Twitter account (personal or business is your choice) and connect with people in your industry. Use Twitter to find related hashtags to your business and find out what people are talking about.
Engage in relevant conversations
Many businesses make the mistake of blatantly promoting their business online. Your promotions should never be a one-way street where you share what your business is doing, but you should focus on engaging in related conversations across channels to build a connection with your brand.
Quora is an amazing platform to engage in relevant conversations and display your business expertise. A lot of people ask questions and queries on Quora, and by answering some of these queries you build your reputation as a thought leader. Find new ideas to talk about, ask good questions, build your presence and engage with your audience. Make sure you research your answers and prove your worthiness in your answers.
Use WhatsApp Business
Your customer’s needs evolve as technology changes their way of living. Adapting to the latest trends can push you ahead of your competitors. People are more likely to shop with a business they can reach through messaging. Hence, integrating a messaging app in your marketing strategy becomes an important step for your business. You can use the WhatsApp Business app to stay in touch with your customers and inform them of your latest promotions and offers.
It’s impossible to generate a lot of content for your business daily. A great way is to reshare and reuse the quality content created by other people. In this way, you can share relevant content which is genuinely useful to your audience without worrying about creating those content. In addition, sometimes other may choose to reshare that content, in turn cross-promoting your business too.
Add relevant hashtags to your posts
Hashtags allow the search engine to index your content to a related topic and help you reach a wider audience. When you add hashtags to your content, you’re making it easier for people to search your content on different channels. Using relevant hashtags can drive engagement to your social media accounts and to your website and help you grow your business.
Schedule your posts
You don’t have to spend time in posting on each social media channel every day. You can simply schedule your posts for the month in advance. Facebook provides it’s in-built tool to schedule posts while you can schedule content on other platforms by using free scheduling tools like Buffer, Tweetdeck, Coschedule, Sprout Social, etc. This will ensure your social accounts feel alive and active without you putting in a lot of efforts.
Share your social links
Once you have created your social media pages, share them on your communication material. Request your customers to follow you on social channels and tell them what they can expect by following you on each channel. Unless you have followers who are genuinely interested in your business, there is no use in sharing quality content on your channels.
Get ideas from competitors social media pages
Follow your competitors on social media and track their content and posts to get ideas on what works well and what doesn’t. You can also set alerts on Twitter to alert you every time your competitor posts a tweet. Facebook also allows you to add your competitors in the Insights section where you can track their number of likes, percentage change in followers vs the last week, number of posts in the current week and their overall engagement rate.
Start a business blog
Blogging combined with social media promotions is a powerful way to promote your business. With your business blog, you can easily target potential clients and boost traffic by writing about the content relevant to them. Blog allows you and your business to develop a community and facilitate one on one conversations with potential customers.
Infographics are a mix of design and writing which displays data in pictorial, fun and easy to understand format. If you make your infographic compelling and attractive, it can prove useful to your audience and help you generate brand awareness. Since infographics are pictorial, it’s easy to read them to find the correct information. Creating helpful infographics in your industry can help you reach a very wide audience and establish you as an industry expert.
Manage an editorial calendar
When you start blogging, you may find it is difficult to find time to write new content. A great way to combat this is to create a simple editorial calendar in Microsoft Excel where you can write down some topics of interest and the expected date for publishing them. Setting realistic dates can help you keep track of what you’re working on and can aid you in completing your tasks in time.
Blog about your customer pain points
When you create your buyer personas, you get an opportunity to understand more about your customer pain points. Describe how the buying cycle for your customers look like and what are the challenges they face in the process of buying the product/service. Once you know their pain points you can focus your content towards solving their pain points.
Add visual elements to your posts
When working on any piece of content, it is always important to include visual elements to your post and make it look visually appealing. You can include images, videos, infographics, memes, screenshots or presentations. No reader enjoys reading a long page of only text. Even if your content is interesting, it may seem boring after a little while and the reader will tend to move out from your blog.
Comment on other blog posts
When you find an interesting piece of content, leave a comment on the post and let them know that you found the post useful. Where relevant, you can also an include a link to your website or your blog post. However, don’t do it for the sake of adding a link but share it when it genuinely adds value to the reader. This will help in driving traffic to your blog and website and build your credibility.
Cross promote your content
Cross-promotion essentially means collaborating with other brands to promote each other’s content and reach a wider audience. Cross-promotion is completely free but when choosing your partner you should ensure their audience matches your target audience. Try to find mutual benefit with other brands and reach out to them when you find an opportunity where you can prove useful to each other.
Recycle your content
Content marketing comes with its own benefits and challenges, and generating new content frequently is one of them. If you have generated a truly helpful piece of content, then you can recycle your content to keep your channel and social media pages alive. You can re-share some of the old posts in social media to reach audience you may have not reached earlier. Another way to recycle old content is to re-publish it by updating it or re purposing it into a new form, for example, an infographic.
Submit your press releases
Getting featured on famous newspapers, magazines, TV shows or radio can work wonders for your business. You can build awareness of your brand and generate more influence by submitting press releases to multiple channels. Gather contact details of relevant editors and journalists and reach out to them to find out how you can get published in their newspaper or magazine.
When creating a new piece of content, you may struggle in finding the right structure. You can use some predefined templates which can help you communicate your ideas in a more organized way. After researching and developing your ideas you can use one of these templates and just plug in your ideas in the right place.
All content needs promotion
Your job is not over after creating and publishing your content. The most important part of your content marketing efforts after your content is published. Spend more time in promoting your content across multiple channels than you did in creating the content. Only when your content is promoted well, can it reach a bigger audience to reap benefits for your business.
Explore other channels like podcasts, Vimeo, etc.
Technology is evolving rapidly and there are a lot of new ways to engage and attract your audience. Explore channels like podcasts, small videos on Vimeo, video marketing on YouTube, etc.to see what works best for you. Never stop experimenting, because marketing is all about keeping your product/service interesting for your audience.
Make your products/service easily accessible
When selling products, try to reach multiple outlets to make your products easily accessible to your customers. Customers trust and use the product more when it’s easy to find in their nearest outlets. If you offer services, then make it easier for your customers to book your service by including a booking system on your website. This will allow customers to book your time at their own convenience.
Promote free consultation
Letting people know that they can get a free business consultation can help you generate more business. You can create a personal schedule online and integrate it into your website to allow users to book a personal session with you. You can promote your free consultation with call to actions buttons on various places on your website.
Grow your network
Building a strong business network is crucial to the success of your company. You can increase the visibility of your business by spending some time in expanding your business network. Networking is more than just meeting new people, it’s about building connections and long-term relationships.
Create your business cards
When you attend networking events, don’t forget to carry your business cards along with you. Having a business card provides legitimacy to your business and provides opportunities to promote your brand. You can include a QR code with a link to your personal schedule. This will allow your potential customers to quickly scan the code with their mobile device and book an appointment with you. Such creative ideas help build a positive reputation for your business and urges customers to take action.
Write an elevator pitch
A pre-written elevator pitch about your business can help you pitch your business more effectively in the networking events. When creating an elevator pitch, define who you are, what you do, who your target customers are, what’s your business about, what makes you unique and end it with a line on what you expect from the other person. Create an attention grabbing hook in your speech which generates curiosity in the other person to find out more about your business. Preparing an elevator pitch can help you build more meaningful relationship and getting the attention of the right people.
Join local communities
Get more involved with the local communities via different activities, for example, volunteering at events or participating in community gatherings. Many towns and cities host parades, festivals and small community events throughout the year. Get involved with the community, connect to people and share information about your business. It’s a great way to build a positive vibe for your business without appearing too promotional. You can also plan and host some events to build community engagement and to attract new customers toward your business.
Attend networking events
Watch out for industry-specific events and invitation-only events. It’s preferable to attend smaller events where people tend to talk and connect with each other instead of big events where people are not sure how to connect with others. Wisely choose which events you want to attend because it’s the quality of people you meet which matter and not the quantity.
Connect with people in your domain via LinkedIn
Harness the power of LinkedIn, the biggest professional network to grow your business. LinkedIn is a powerful tool for businesses of all sizes. You can acquire new customers with online recommendations and word of mouth marketing. Use LinkedIn to keep in touch with people you meet at the networking events. You can join groups of entrepreneurs and discuss your queries with like-minded people who might have faced similar challenges as you.
Record video customer reviews
90% of customers read multiple customer reviews before deciding to buy a product and 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations (Source).
Good reviews can help you attract more audience, and what’s more credible than a video recording of a person sharing his good experience with your company. Video reviews have more emotions and convey the message in a better way as compared to text reviews.
Reach out to your happy customers and record quick video testimonials. You can use these on your YouTube channel and your website to allow new visitors to view them while making their decision to buying your product.
Engage with influencers
Industry influencers are individuals who have a loyal following on social media and who have high credibility in your industry. Make a list of influencers in your industry and reach out to them individually. You can offer them a free trial of your product/service and if they enjoy your product/service, they’re likely to talk about it on their channel which will attract brand awareness for your business. However, please be sure to check the influencer guidelines to ensure you do not attract any legal trouble for your business.
Speak at seminars and workshops
When you have certain years of entrepreneurship experience, a great way to share your knowledge and learnings is to speak at seminars and workshops. This showcases your expertise in the chosen niche and allows you to engage in a two-way conversations with new audience. Such activities also increase your brand awareness and bring more visibility to your business.
Set up affiliate programs
Affiliate marketing is an arrangement between your business and your business affiliates where you pay commission to them from the sales or traffic generated by their efforts. It’s a great way to grow your business since you only pay for the results you get. You can set up an affiliate program and assign unique codes to each affiliate. Every sales generated by the affiliate code can then be tracked back to the affiliate and you can use it to grow your business.
Your business should always be focused on customer needs and not on profit generation. Successful organizations are the ones who have evolved themselves with their customer-needs and have focused on understanding consumer-behavior. Understand who are your most valuable and happy customers, and what makes your business unique for them. Focus on delivering the same experience to all your customers.
Build long-term relationships with customers
Working towards building a long-term and strong relationship with customers will ensure a loyal following for your business. Each time you meet a potential customer, focus on understanding their requirements rather than trying to sell your product. Build a two-way communication channel and explore ideas with them.
Manage your customer database
Maintain a customer relationship management system or even a simple excel file to track their details is sufficient. Add information you learn about your customers in your CRM system or your Excel file.
Organize and use this data to stay in touch with your customers. Your customers understand and feel when you truly care about them and their needs. You are rewarded in the long-term with loyal happy customers who promote your business for you.
Collect customer feedback
Customer feedback is important for your business in two ways. One, it shows your customers that you value their opinions, and second, it allows you to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your business. Once you understand their feedback, you can deliver a better customer experience and drive higher customer retention by working on areas that matter to them.
Empower your customers
When you’re easy to reach via social media channels, when it’s easy to talk to you and book an appointment on your schedule, your customers feel empowered. This is because they know they can easily reach out to you whenever they have any issue and their complaint will be heard.
Ensure that you’re easily reachable on multiple channels and allow them to opt out of your promotions when they want. This will show them that you value them and their opinions.
Create a strong community
You can use WhatsApp Business app to create customer groups. This will allow them to connect with other customers, and will also allow you to share business promotions with them. Don’t forcefully add them into business groups but share a link with them and allow them to choose if they want to be a part of a bigger community.
Get testimonials from happy customers
Nothing captures more attention than a great story from a customer who has already used your product and has gone through the different stages of buying lifecycle. When your new and potential customers read testimonials on your website, they’re reassured that your product is trustworthy and reliable.
One of the main reasons why many customers choose small businesses over larger businesses is their personalized customer service. Offer great customer support and use technology like live chat software to connect with your customers. Clearly list down your service level agreement on your website, and tell your customers what level of service they can expect from your business. Respond quickly to customer queries, and maintain their complaints and comments in your database. This will allow you to handle their queries better the next time you connect with them.
Hire customer-centric employees
You may be customer-centric in your activities, but as you grow you will also need to add more members to your team. When you hire a new individual to your team, make sure they are also customer-centric in their approach. Technical knowledge can be easily learnt, but qualities like warmth, understanding, empathy, optimism and teamwork cannot be learnt quickly. Look for individuals who are a better fit for your company values.
A great way to differentiate yourself from the competitor is by offering different types of product packaging. Make your package visually appealing or creative. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different types of packaging to see which is preferred more by your audience. Add your brand colors and package the product to portray your company beliefs. For example, if you want one of your brand characteristics to be ‘environment friendly’, then use environmentally-friendly packaging for your products.
Enter business award competitions
You can track a lot of local business award competitions online and register your business for these awards. Winning new awards or even getting nominated in certain categories will help you build credibility and generate brand awareness for your business.
Become a mentor
You have made mistakes and learnt lessons in your entrepreneurial adventure. Now, share your experience and help other businesses grow by becoming their mentor. When you teach someone, you are not only enhancing your leadership skills but also testing your knowledge.
Find a mentor
If you’re still new to entrepreneurship, identify someone who you admire and respect. You can choose someone from your own industry or someone from your professional network. Having a mentor can help you assess your strengths and weaknesses and aid you in developing the missing skills. When you’re not sure about a business decision, you can request guidance from your mentor and you’re sure to receive some sound advice.
Find a mentor or become a mentor. Share your expertise and learn from others. That’s a great way to grow your business.
Take Free Marketing Certifications
We met a lot of small business owners who were eager to promote their business online, but weren’t sure where to start. A great way to begin is to undertake the free Google Digital Garage course by Google which takes you through the basics of online marketing. If you want to deep dive any other subject in marketing or simply build your expertise, here is a comprehensive list of free marketing courses you can undertake from the comfort of your home
Author Bio: Sneha Mittal is chief marketing officer at SuperSaaS online appointment booking system. I’m a marketer who works with small and medium businesses and help them grow their business. I am also a food and travel blogger at Mr & Mrs Sachdeva. My speciality is digital marketing and project management.