7 February

Marketing 101: 5 Essential Steps for Jersey City Small Businesses

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Marketing for small businesses may seem like an endless and confusing concept, but there are some basics that can help simplify the process for anyone. In fact, if the idea of marketing your brand or product has you believing you should leave it to the professionals, rest assured, it’s not as complicated as it seems.

Many small business owners simply don’t know the basics of getting their brand out there and are lost as a result. By learning just a few fundamental steps, your small business can boost sales and generate buzz with the best of them. Sound too good to be true? It’s really not. Optimizing the marketing tricks of the trade for your business boils down to a few key components:

1. Know Who You’re Targeting

For starters, the most important aspect of business marketing is understanding who makes up your client base. In other words, your “Target Audience.” Is your product or service focused on a local audience or is it a national or global product? What generational group (Boomers? Millennials?) is most involved with your product or service? Knowing who you’re going to be targeting is the first step and shouldn’t be too difficult to pin down. Chances are, you already know your target audience.

2. Create a Platform to be Seen

So, you know your target audience – now what? Now you need to be seen (and heard). A good marketing 101 rule to keep in mind: “people need to hear or see your message at least seven times before taking any action” (Forbes.com). How are they going to see your message? Set up a website. Create social media pages (Facebook is a great place to start if you’re not familiar). Register with local organizations (set up at community events, register with local groups such as the Chamber of Commerce, etc.). These are all essential to being seen.

3. Run Specials and Promotions

Once you have established an online presence and set up local connections to your community, this is when the marketing fun begins. You can grow your online audiences (and convert them to physical customers and clients) by running promotions, sales, special events or any other form of meet and greet that entices potential customers to check out your business. Try running “Like and Share” contests on Facebook which ask users to like and share your posts for a chance to win a free service or product. Doing this will help expand your presence both online and in the community by generating buzz and giving way to a greater audience for future promotions. (Remember the rule of 7!)

4. Utilize “Brand Ambassadors” (i.e., Family and Friends)

Another great (and simple) way to spread the word about your business for a minimal cost is word-of-mouth. Having family and friends lend a hand with your networking and marketing efforts can be a fantastic resource. Forbes suggests having t-shirts and swag created with your company logo to hand out at any opportunity, but there are endless ways you could utilize swag to create buzz. Family and friends wearing your company logo on a t-shirt all over town can boost interest as well as other items you can hand out during events (think pens, small notepads, portable chargers, coffee mugs, etc.).

5. Be Consistently Present

We can’t stress this part enough: an online presence can make or break businesses in all genres today. No matter what your target audience looks like, the vast majority of the world’s population will first turn to the web when researching any form of service or product nowadays. You need to ensure they can find exactly what they’re looking for (you!). This is done by continually updating your online presence with new promotions, new ads, new photos, new ratings and anything else that will begin to build once you’re out there.

As a general rule, the best way to build your brand is to network and be seen. Add your presence on any and all relevant platforms (local events to websites and social media) and utilize your family and friends to help spread the word too. Remember, customers will be looking online for what they need, so make sure your business is seen and give them a reason to choose you! That’s marketing in a nutshell, folks.

23 May

The Secret Sauce

This morning a good friend of mine sent me a text with this picture, reminding me that 5 years ago today I stood with my family, friends, an outgoing deputy mayor and an incoming mayor for the Indiegrove ribbon cutting.  It was a huge turning point for my life and for Jersey City.  We were starting something new in Jersey City.  It wasn’t just the idea that a coworking space was coming to Jersey City, but we were building something special for people who think differently than most and are building our future.  I look back on the last five years and I can’t believe how many chapters we have already had in our journey.  This business has created some of the most proud moments and hardest moments of my life.  I can say there are two things that have gotten us to this point: relationships and perseverance.

I decided early on that I would apply the same principals I apply to my personal life to how we treat every person who interacts with this business.  Kindness became one of our core values and giving became our culture.  The greatest benefit of this approach has been that I don’t create transactions, I create relationships with people – members, guests, partners, vendors.  This has led to the space being a place where people are happy and value one another.  It has also been my saving grace more times than I can count.  When I couldn’t figure out how to get myself out of a hole, I have been able to lean on people to help me dig myself out and I have done the same for them.  I have been amazed at the power of reciprocity and generosity.

There have been many days in this business that I have not wanted to face the day.  This is a unique business in that I sit amongst my customers all day, every day.  If something is not working, I actually have to look people in the eye and explain what is happening.  I don’t have deep pockets, trust account or funders to pull from.  The ups and downs of this business are completely absorbed by the business and my team.  I’ve learned to recognize the signs in my numbers and emotions.  The numbers part is more clear cut.  I have my key performance indicators so I am more likely to see things coming and be able to take action sooner.  I’m disciplined with my books and study the trends.  The emotions part, not so much.  It usually starts with me going through the sad and defeated motions, which I have gotten really good at turning into getting mad and determined action.  The recovery can be quick or not so quick.  Most importantly, we push through.  Perseverance is about having a smile on your face, not compromising your values and taking action.  This trait stands out in so many of the entrepreneurs who work at Indiegrove.  It is by far the most important contributor to success.

I’m excited to see what the next 5 years look like.  Indiegrove never ceases to amaze me.

To Your Success,

Zahra Amanpour, Indiegrove Founder

#IndiegroveWorks
#BeOriginal