Updated: Jan 8
Marketing your business CAN BE hard, but doesn't HAVE TO be hard. Follow a few simple do's and dont's and you'll be in better shape than most of your competitors.
DO: Think Outside the Box
Gone are the days of boring newspaper, radio, and TV advertisements. Yes, they are still around, but they are expensive and can be time consuming to create. There are less expensive alternatives that won't break your piggy bank.
Social media is a given but make sure you're posting different things each day. If you're a real estate agent and everyday you post a new home that just came on the market or a "Just Sold" photo, you will be unfriended very quickly. Be creative! Post home improvement tips or funny real estate comics. You're goal is to keep your business in front of people so when the need for your goods or services come along, you'll be the first person called.
Look into local events for exposure. Volunteer to hand out water bottles at a 5K race or set up a booth at your local fall festival with a fun, free game that draws people in. Host a corn hole tournament in your business's parking lot. You may not make a sale at one of these events but you're getting your business in front of people and that's what we want.
DO: Have an Incredible Website
When you need a good or service, the first thing you do is pull out your phone and go to Google, Yahoo, Bing, or Yelp. Having a great online presence is key for your business to be successful in today's world. Your website is your digital business card. According to Internet Live Stats, Google processes more than 3.5 billion searches per day. If you don't have a website, you're relying on word of mouth and more traditional forms of advertising which means you're missing out on a ton of exposure.
On the other hand, if your website isn't appealing or lacks detail, there is a strong chance your business will be glossed over and potential customers will move on to the next link.
As a side note, you MUST make sure you are utilizing Search Engine Optimization or SEO. SEO is the process of helping your website move to the top results in search queries. If your website isn't coming up in search results then it's not doing you much good. Read more about SEO on our SEO for Beginners post.
DO: Analyze, Adjust, Analyze, Adjust
Knowing how to analyze the impact of your marketing campaign is huge. Data is your best friend when building a business. Track EVERYTHING! Did you just launch a fresh new website design or a new social media marketing campaign? If so, what does Google Analytics say about the traffic on your website compared to last month. How are your sales tracking compared to last month?
Track your efforts but also track your competition. Learn from their successes and mimic them. If you get a postcard every month from the same business then that technique is probably working for them so think about the possibility of your own postcard campaign.
DO: Think About Concentrating on a Niche Market
In today's competitive world, appealing to a niche market will put your business above the rest of the generalized businesses in your field. Think about home improvements, for example. If you have a plumbing issue, do you want someone who claims to be a plumber, electrician, carpenter, and lawn design extraordinaire? No, you want a PLUMBER!
I remember when my first child was small, I decided to try cloth diapers. Baby supply stores are a dime a dozen but there was only one small boutique baby store in the county that carried cloth diapers. Every time I walked in to buy diapers or the special detergent I needed to wash them, this tiny boutique was slammed.
Find your niche! Here's a great guide to finding your niche.
Start networking small with a few key people that believe in you and your business. I believe strongly in building relationships with customers and clients. If you build those relationships and deliver on your promises, referrals will come naturally. I recently read Tim Templeton's The Referral of a Lifetime: The Networking System That Produces Bottom Line Results ... Every Day. If you're looking for a great approach to networking, this is it!
DON'T: Shoot Blind
Make sure you do your homework before launching any type of marketing campaign, especially if you're investing money in the campaign. Know your audience and know your target market.
DON'T: Toot Your Own Horn
Don't harp on how great you are. Yes, you want to sell yourself along with your business but make sure you clearly convey what makes you THE choice for potential customers and clients. As Martin Zwilling from Forbes says, "Give yourself the 'so-what?' test and check for a compelling value-based answer." If your 'so-what' answer is "because I'm great at what I do," you won't be convincing anyone.
It's very tempting to oversell or over-promise once you have a customer's ear but the biggest death trap for your business is over-promising and under-delivering. Be honest. Be open. Be smart. If you have a concern, share it with your customer. They will appreciate your honesty and be more forgiving if you do fall short.