There is a fundamental truth when it comes to marketing and businesses, too many businesses choose not to invest in marketing tools. This, of course, is a major problem, as the importance of investing in marketing is more important than ever. Simply put, marketing is not a luxury, it is a necessity.
Here’s the good news, the advent of the internet over the past couple of decades has flattened the playing field. As a result, small businesses can have access to tools, techniques, and talents that many businesses could only dream about. Indeed, there are many tools available on the market today, and this begs the question, which ones should you be investing in?
You can’t spend your time doing everything, after all, and small businesses simply do not have the time or the staff to invest millions in television or digital campaigns. However, there are absolutely plenty of things that you can do. To that end, here’s a look at ten marketing tools your business needs to succeed today.
Astonishingly, far too many small businesses still do not have a website. This is a major problem, as the internet is the primary method by which most people get information about what is happening in their world and in their community. Furthermore, multiple studies have indicated that the vast majority of people check out the websites of other businesses before making purchases. As such, not having a website essentially ensures that your business is completely blacked out to these individuals.
Of course, a website requires more than just your business name. There is some information that every small business website should contain. Some of the necessary information is obvious, you should have your name, address, contact information, links to your products, product descriptions, hours of operations and more. However, this is basic information and not enough. A small business website should also have information like about where purchases can be made, product descriptions, and local links so you can encourage others to visit the website of business partners.
Furthermore, if it is at all possible, eCommerce options should be easily accessible. Remember, a website is about more than just letting people know how they can call your office and store. It’s also an extension of your business marketing into the community. View your website as if it is a fishhook, you’re trying to capture customers.
Social Media Accounts
There was a time that social media was optional, something that you could use if you reached out to certain demographics within your business. That time has long since passed. Simply put, your business must have an active social media presence, regardless of what type of business you are operating. Every business should develop an in-depth social media plan that best serves their needs.
How your business will use social media depends on a variety of factors, including how much time you have available, how much expertise your staff has and what platforms your target demographic is spending the most time on. For example, Facebook works well for connecting with virtually every demographic. LinkedIn is a better way of reaching business to business customers, or those who are older and more educated. TikTok and Snapchat are perfect for younger consumers.
Unfortunately, there is no ideal “one-size fits all” approach here. You and your business have to determine who your customers are, where they spend time and what sort of content may work best when it comes to advertising for them. Additionally, it’s worth keeping in mind that most people don’t use social media with the explicit intention of purchasing items. They do it so they can find interesting, useful and relevant content.
It is incumbent upon you to develop that content and ensure that the information you are putting onto social media is a net positive to someone’s life, not simply a sales pitch. This way, you can ensure that you are doing everything you can to make yourself seem like a good business. In the long run, that leads to more sales.
SEO is short for Search Engine Optimization. As you probably know, one of the primary ways that people get information at this point is through Google. As a result, your website must be optimized in order to be discovered by Google and other smaller search engines. Failure to optimize your website for search engine discoverability is like having a store that doesn’t have a front door or sign. No one will be able to access you or the various products and services you may offer.
There are many techniques you can use in order to enhance the ability of your website to be discovered. For starters, make sure you have appropriate keywords in your website header and title. The keywords should include the name of your business, type of business and location.
Make sure you have your contact information in text on every page of the website and make sure it’s in text, not a graphic, or search engines may not be able to find the info.
Google and other search engines have also started to put an increased emphasis on the load times of pages, so you want to strip out any irrelevant content and graphics in order to achieve the fastest load time possible. This is also one of the reasons why it is so important to break up your content with headers and subheaders – and both of those should contain the appropriate keywords.
If you understand the benefits of reputation management, you will be able to keep customers coming and increase the number of new customers requesting your services. What is reputation management? It’s the idea of enhancing or controlling your company’s reputation and public perception on a regular basis. It means, quite literally, that you are doing everything you can to keep your name in a positive light with the rest of the world. It’s not always easy, but it can make things much less challenging for you if you ever find your business in a position where you are getting hammered for some real or imagined mistake.
Major companies engage in this practice by using social media and regularly engaging in marketing efforts that are designed to enhance their reputation. They have millions of dollars in advertising and dozens of staff to assist with this process. For smaller companies, this is not such an easy endeavor. However, many of the other processes discussed here can significantly assist with this effort.
Regular social media use, timely news releases business activities, and positive events that bring customers together can all help with this process. Additionally, it is highly advisable to ensure that someone on your staff is tasked with the specific duty of marketing and reputation management. This way, it is an assigned duty that is being done on a regular basis, not just in the event of an emergency.
Many of the tools discussed so far have referred to technological tools or specific marketing strategies. However, you cannot forget the human element of marketing your business. To that end, make sure you are doing whatever you can to create loyal customers. Remember, the majority of your money is going to come from repeat customers – customers that come back to you over and over again. How can you do this? Many of the ways you gain loyal customers are central to the method by which you become a successful business.
Have a friendly, welcoming staff, and make sure that the staff goes out of their way to offer assistance to any customers. Make sure that your store is clean and easy to navigate. Have high-quality goods that are available at the most affordable prices ever. Hold regular events that are interested, exciting and leave your customers wanting to come back for more.
Some of these areas are common sense. However, creating loyal customers means that you have to pay particular attention to regularly communicating with your customers. Do you have an active social media presence, one that engages in real communication, rather than just periodically advertising sales? Do you have a multi-tiered communication structure, including emails, social media, and newsletters? When your customers come in, do you try to engage them in conversation that goes beyond just jamming a product down their throat? Do you go above and beyond expectations when it comes to regular customer service? If so, how? Creating loyal customers isn’t just about doing what you need to do to make a sale. It’s about creating an extraordinary product and being of extraordinary assistance.
Customer Loyalty Programs
Customer loyalty programs are programs that are specifically geared towards the retention of customers and getting them back in your store. In many cases, they are relatively simple to execute, give someone a punch card. If they come in ten times, their 11th visit is free. You can also structure them, so they work towards dollars spent or specific products purchased.
The benefits of these programs are multifaceted and about more than just getting someone back in your door or opening their wallet again. You can also use these programs to gather data about spending habits and location, thus allowing you to better target your marketing in the future. Additionally, they enable you to enhance communication, turn your customers into marketers and can be changed in order to be better positioned for future growth.
Remember, customer loyalty programs don’t have to be as simple or boring as the examples described above. Indeed, many businesses have successfully executed a series of innovative ideas that work well when it comes to building customer loyalty programs. Examples include businesses that give out gift certificates if you spend a certain number of points, inside information or knowledge or accelerate based on lifetime use. Remember, a customer loyalty program can be as creative as you want, and it can be geared specifically towards your business’s needs.
The internet is a vast, wide-open space – too vast to track what everyone is saying about you, right? Wrong. Google Alerts is a great tool that you can use to track who is speaking about you and what they are saying. In a nutshell, Google Alerts can be set up through Google and will send you an email whenever a new Google search comes up with whatever keywords you establish. You can set up Google Alerts for a variety of topics, including your business name and your name. However, you should get more creative than that.
Set up alerts for your competitors, for your industry, for your neighborhood or more. This will allow you to be better informed about what is happening in your locality, enabling you to better target your marketing efforts. Thankfully, setting up Google Alerts is completely free and simple. This enables you to have the regular power of a standard Google search set up at your fingertips.
Email Marketing Software
Anyone who says that email is dead has no idea what they are talking about. The truth is that Email marketing remains more important than ever, and even more so for small businesses, who can use Email to provide timely information about what is happening in their business.
Many Email marketing programs allow for free use if you send under a certain amount of Emails or have less than a certain number of subscribers. However, paid features allow you access to better analytics, give you more data and help to ensure that you can better determine specific types of content that are more effective. They also often come with access to better features, like A/B testing or expert advice.
Remember, you can use this marketing software to discuss your sales, give information about products and provide content that is useful and relevant to your customer’s lives. The specific type of content is up to you, but make sure that you regularly check the data after you send Emails. This will give you a better read on what types of content are successful and what isn’t.
In a world where getting someone’s attention is more important and difficult than ever, you need to make sure that any marketing information you put out looks like it was created by a professional with skill, not an intern who only sort of knows what they are doing. To that end, you can’t just rely on Microsoft Paint or Word to design fliers.
It is well worth it to check out free websites like Canva or Design Wizard to handle all of your graphic needs. These websites enable you to utilize great templates and often have tutorials to walk you through how to use their basic functions. Again, they are often “freemium,” meaning you can use many of their features for free before having to pay for more advanced usage.
Like Email marketing, blogging is not dead – indeed, far from it. Many still rely on blogging for content marketing, search engine optimization and getting customers the latest information. Blogging can and should be an integral part of any strategy which draws customers to your business website.
There are many benefits of blogging, including helping customers find your website, establishing you as a leader within your industry and giving you a chance to provide useful, valuable information to your customers. It can also be really useful for enhancing your SEO.
Keep in mind that blogging is time-intensive, and you need to update your blog on a consistent basis in order to be effective. To that end, make sure that you have dedicated staff resources to consistently work on developing high-quality content for your blog. Once you start blogging, keep going. It takes time to see a real benefit from your blog, but it is well worth the effort, and a blog that hasn’t been updated in months looks terrible.
Marketing in business can often be a difficult task. You certainly don’t have major resources and aren’t as big as Amazon or Wal-Mart. However, there’s good news, most of the resources listed above have no financial cost. They are, however, time-intensive. That means you have to outhustle the competition. However, if you’re a business owner, you already knew that. These marketing tools are available for you to take advantage of. Doing so will put you in a better position to increase your sales and make more money.
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