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.