We all agree that marketing is critical and crucial for the success of a business. And marketing is a broad term that includes many media – online/content/web/social media/advertising/public relations/community outreach and more. Most medium to large businesses have a marketing department to handle these responsibilities so that there is a consistent focus on the company. What’s confusing is that many small businesses believe that it’s a DIY project.
What I have found in years of consulting for small companies and nonprofits, is that they have great intentions to market their companies. But in the day-to-day of production, creation, customer service, purchasing, selling… marketing falls by the wayside. Thinking about doing a Facebook post at 2 a.m. is not marketing, nor is it strategy. Marketing needs a plan. Marketing also needs support and expertise.
So here are some do’s and don’ts. First, the do’s:
- Put marketing in your budget. This includes dues to organizations, advertising, website creation and updates, social media boosts, print collateral, signage, sponsorships.
- Understand your target audience, and find them. Capture names and email addresses of customers. Do a drawing online on your website or social media, or in your store. Keep a database.
- Get out into the community and be a part of events.
- Join your chamber of commerce. They are a great source of promotion for your business, and they do it for free.
- Create a plan. Even if it is just one marketing activity a week, make a plan and follow it. Don’t let the workload of owning a business get in the way of doing marketing.
- Use your database to create email marketing blasts about your business with links to your website and opportunities to make sales.
- Hire experts when you can, or attend seminars/webinars to learn more about how to do it yourself. But be faithful to your plan always.
- Participate in business expos (when they resume) or events that offer you the opportunity to showcase your business, your service, your product…AND, capture names and email addresses for your email blasts.
- Make sure your communications are mobile friendly.
Keep these don’ts in mind as well:
- Don’t create your own website. Hire a professional to get it right the first time, and who offers regular updates and search engine optimization. If you do create your own site, don’t let it sit stagnant for months on end. Keep it updated and fresh.
- Don’t assume that an occasional post on social media will convert to sales. Time should be spent building your audience on social media and making sure that audience receives regular and creative communications.
- Don’t generalize. There is no one size fits all marketing strategy. Every business, every item has a target market. Know your market and find ways to reach it with targeted communications.
- Don’t imitate your competition. Keep your content unique.
- Don’t isolate. They call it public relations because it is all about your relationship with your public. Keep the free opportunities (free media) informed about what you are doing.
Knowing your market, creating unique content on your website, in your social media, and in your communications to customers and providing great customer service are the first steps to successful marketing for our business. Consider a wide variety of platforms to tell your story as well.
There are many organizations, like SCORE, that can provide you with ideas and training in all aspects of your business. Contact us at tipofthemitt.score.org today!
Kathy Bardins is a volunteer business mentor with SCORE’s Tip of the Mitt chapter and has a work background in marketing. To request SCORE’s free and confidential mentoring services for small businesses, call (231) 347-4150 in the Petoskey area or (989) 731-0287 in the Gaylord area.