It is estimated that over half of the world will be online by the end of 2016. That’s a lot of ideal prospects and customers. More than ever, it is important to consider the marketing tactics that you could employ in your small business. While there are certainly more, here’s my top seven.
1. Tell your story
Your customers want to know who you are and what makes you special. When giving workshops, I note that there are two reasons people buy from you. First, you have the expertise to solve their problem, and second, they like you.
Many businesses do a pretty good job of showcasing expertise, but what are you doing to give people an opportunity to like you?
2. Be authentic
You are the best representative of your business. People purchase from people they know, like, and trust. Feature yourself and your staff prominently in your marketing materials so prospects and customers can get to know the faces behind the business.
I had a customer once suggest that I use a pretty girl in a video that promoted his business. I asked the question, “When you go out to close a big deal, do you send a pretty girl?”
When doing videos, avoid scripts and focus more on natural questions and answers. I was asked recently to put together a script for a video. When I saw who was being interviewed, I noted that these folks were professionals at talking about their solutions. Instead of a script, we gave them a few talking points and let them integrate it naturally into their discussion.
3. Have an opinion
For many of us who grew up in corporate environments, success was based on fitting in. I had a manager once say to me, “I want you to be like a two-way radio, only talk when I press your button.”
As small business owners, we often focus too much on being open to many paths and types of customers, as opposed to focusing on one or just a few. As a buyer, I want to know what you know about solving my problem, and what you think I ought to do.
Understand and target a specific customer base. We tend to be opportunistic and not want to turn away a prospect. However, as a buyer, I want to know that you truly understand my problem and feel strongly I should be your customer.
4. Show up regularly
Marketing is a journey, not a one-time event. You need to select a few social media outlets and get involved. Post, tweet, retweet, comment, send out your newsletter, etc. Make it part of your day-to-day communication plan. You need to be visible to your prospects and customers when they are ready to buy.
Too many small business do one big video every two or three years. Or they send a newsletter once a year, maybe around the holidays. Sometimes, you will see the same blog post featured for a couple of months.
You don’t need to be everywhere, but where you are you need to be continually visible.
5. Take advantage of free media
In today’s communication environment, there are literally thousands of publishers. Every publisher has their own audience. Each publisher is looking for content to build value with their customer base.
Identify within your industry the publishers with either the largest following or niche publishers that reach your target audience and try to contribute to their sites. This way, can get in front of people who may not know about you but are potentially interested in what you do.
If you want to contribute as a writer, you’ll have to prove yourself. Create a blog on your website, or contribute to an industry association publication if you are a member.
Want to do video? You’ll have to create content on your own first, too. Video publishers want to know that you will look and sound professional before they will pick you up. Fine tune your expertise. The more you are out in the media, the more options you will have.
6. Create great content
The best driver of engagement is great content. Want to improve your SEO? Great content is the number one influencer.
Document the kind of content that you like. Your customers and prospects tend to like what you like. Try out different kinds of content in your social media channels. Look at your numbers and see what people respond to. Work with experts to help create the best possible content.
7. Nurture engagement with future vision
What are you doing to engage your community? This could include your customers, suppliers, prospects, and stakeholders. You need to articulate a future vision that motivates you, your customers, collaborators, and suppliers.
In my experience in the early days of cell phones, or working the NEXTEL vision, we pressed the limits of what was possible and helped everyone exceed what they thought was possible from technology.
As you go into this holiday season and 2017, think about what kind of messages made an impression on you. Is there any way you could leverage this in your business?
What do you think you can do differently? How can you have a greater impact on your prospects and customers?