August 29, 2011
It’s time to get fruity with some great small business marketing ideas that will help you explode your clients (not literally!). As a small business, marketing can sometimes be daunting, but take these 20 ideas and implement one idea every day. Put a tick list on your desk and take massive action.
1. Brand your Business Clearly. Make sure your business name or logo clearly identifies the ultimate benefit of what you are offering in a way which will appeal to your market; keep it simple, short and memorable. A store called “Gifts for Garden-lovers” or “Green-finger Gifts” is precise and clear; one called “Smith’s Store” or “Universal Wonder” gives no clue.
2. Be Seen in All the Right Places. Think about where your target customers go and try to arrange to advertise by displaying leaflets or posters there. For the youth market, use Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or other online resources. For adults and young families it might be the local supermarket, the library, the gym, or the “mother and toddler” group. For the senior market, target locations your potential customers visit such as libraries, doctors’ and dentists’ waiting rooms, church halls, community centres etc. or advertise in the local paper or free-sheet, perhaps with a promotional discount voucher.
3. Give Your Knowledge Away. What you know about your business and your industry is interesting and potentially valuable to others. Without giving away any really sensitive information, offer to speak at schools and colleges, women’s groups or business clubs on a topic related to your business; write for the local paper or speak on the local radio and you will gain valuable exposure. Make your website as informative as possible. Tell potential customers exactly how you will help their business, or benefit them personally. If you can, reveal a few “tricks of the trade” to help them make best use of what you sell. Very few people will actually steal your knowledge to set up for themselves, but many of your customers will feel gratified that you are willing to be open and honest with them.
4. Word of Mouth. This can be a very valuable marketing tool – and is absolutely free! Make sure all your customers leave you 100% happy and satisfied with the service you have provided to them, and they will become ambassadors for your business.
5. Investigate the Competition. Use a friend or a paid “Mystery Shopper” to call on other businesses in your area to see how they operate. Get hold of their advertising literature and compare their offering with yours. Check out their websites. What can you do to make your business stand out?
6. Offer Discounts. Produce Discount Vouchers to be used at your store or business (perhaps on certain slower moving products, or on certain days when your trade is usually slack). Add an expiry date to generate a sense of urgency. You could include a discount voucher in your advertising, hand them to each customer, or mail them to previous clients.
7. Give-Aways. Hand out free samples in your local high street; give customers a small free product with each purchase over a certain value; or have “3 for 2” offers or “Buy -1-Get-1-Free” promotions.
8. Linked Purchases. Offer a deal where customers who buy product A get product B at a reduced price. This can encourage customers to buy two products, when they would otherwise only have bought one.
9. Loyalty or Reward Schemes. Issue a card to be stamped each time the customer buys, with a full card entitling the customer to a free product, or a discount on their next purchase (but make sure the cards and stamps are kept under control, or you could end up with an unexpected rush of claims!)
10. Competitions. Run a competition and choose an exciting prize from your range of products or services, which will not cost you a great deal but which will be very appealing to your potential customers. Advertise the competition widely in the locality, send a press release about it to the local press and radio and, if appropriate, make sure people have to call at your business in order to enter – which gives you a chance to promote your business to them in person. Invite the local press to be present when the prize is awarded, to get some more free publicity.
11. Open House. Host an open evening at your premises. Invite both potential and regular customers for drinks and nibbles and a chance to see/test your latest products, with a discount for purchases or orders placed on the night.
12. Join an Online Booking Service. If you run a hospitality business (hotel, bar, pub, café or coffee shop) consider joining one of the online booking services, such as Top Table, or Gourmet Society. This will bring you to the attention of travelers from other areas who might not otherwise find you, and you can also offer special deals through some sites. This can be a two-edged sword, of course, as the site will probably also carry reviews by your customers – but if you offer high-quality service and excellent food and drink, good reviews will boost your reputation.
13. Carry Out a Survey. Have a supply of small cards by the till as each customer completes their transaction with you, asking the customer to complete a short survey on their experience with your business, and to fill in their details (especially email address). Offer a small monthly prize as an incentive. This will not only give you valuable feedback on your success (or otherwise), but you will build up a database of email addresses, which you can use for promotional emails, newsletters etc. For ideas on how to use these, click on.
14. Collect Business Cards. Copy those city centre restaurants and have a large glass bowl by the cash desk, to collect business cards (or hand-written contact details slips) from customers, with a monthly draw for, say, a free bottle of wine or champagne – this is another way of building a database for future marketing activities.
15. New Image Party. When you re-decorate your premises, hold a “New Image” party, inviting local press, radio, community dignitaries, neighbours, the general public and previous customers from your database, to show off your new premises, and launch new products or services.
16. Professional Brochure or Leaflet. With desktop publishing software available on every PC and laptop, there is no excuse for unprofessional looking publicity material. Have a nit-picking friend read through any leaflet/flyer/ poster you propose to use, to check for grammatical, punctuation and spelling mistakes.
17. Error-free Website. The same applies to your website – your professionalism is in doubt right away if your website is riddled with typing errors, misplaced apostrophes, poor punctuation and grammatical mistakes. Don’t assume your website designer will correct your text – he or she is an expert in computers not grammar. If you can’t afford a proofreader, ask a fussy friend or relation to check it for you.
18. Superior Telephone Service. Is your telephone system as good as it could be? During working hours, make sure every call is answered within 3 rings and that the greeting you give is friendly and personal. Ensure that the person who answers your calls is trained to deal with the majority of customers’ questions themselves. After hours or at busy times, make sure your answerphone message is professional, helpful, and proactive. Not just “please leave a message” but “we are so sorry that no-one is able to help you right away, but we promise to call you back by 9:30am tomorrow if you would be kind enough to leave your number” or something similar. And make certain you always deliver on that promise.
19. Community Visibility. Join fellow Business people at the local Chamber of Commerce, Business Clubs, Rotary Club, Round Table etc. Get involved in local charity events, so you gain a positive reputation for contributing to the community.
20. Get Involved in Local Events and Activities. If there is a community event in your town, make sure you are there to publicise your business – maybe you can have small samples to give away, or hand out a voucher for a discount at your business. If there is a local charity event, take part yourself (or sponsor someone else to do so) carrying/wearing your business name.
I really hope you enjoyed those 20 tips. Just one that works should help you to explode your profits!
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