All businesses should have some form of marketing strategy or tactic regardless of size … including the smallest of “Ma and Pa” operations. If you don’t you’re simply selling products and services that may, or may not, reach their intended target market, or run the risk of not being visible when compared to a competitor.
Not reaching your target market, or your customers, puts your business and livelihood at risk.
Obviously this is a simplified version of marketing and selling but when it comes down to it, you don’t have to throw bucket loads of cash at advertising or promotions to market your products successfully. Effective marketing can be done with a limited budget provided you’re willing to invest a bit of time yourself.
Marketing is about identifying and understanding your customer and giving them what they want. Sure, a big part of it is letting potential customers know you have what they want. Luckily today we have lots of free avenues for spruiking and showcasing our wares … it’s just a matter of finding the right ones that reach our intended audience.
These are the main steps I following when starting out on a new marketing venture or the ways in which I create the most cost effective strategy:
- Think about your target audience, the ways in which they can be reached and the content that will be relevant to them.
This information should be used as the foundation to your marketing strategy. Put it in some form of written format and refer back to it throughout your marketing endeavours. A simple mind map is better than nothing at all.
- Invest in a professional looking website that is simple and easy to navigate.
A website is your online storefront and the thing potential customers use to gauge if you’re the right supplier for them. You have all of but 3 seconds to impress them … not with flashy thingamabobs that move and jump around the page … but with easy to navigate menus and content relevant to them.
If you don’t have a lot of money to spend on building your website look for WordPress options that suit your needs and budget. WordPress is one of the easiest ways I’ve found for non-tech-heads to get a professional looking website up and running, then kept up to date.
Ensure your website is professional looking, has relevant information and is functioning correctly then make changes to it at least once a month to ensure search engines consider it “loved and cared for”.
- Sign up for Google Analytics and install the code on your website.
Google Analytics is a free tool that once installed correctly gives you data on the visitors to your website. It’s as simple as copying and pasting the code Google Analytics gives you into the pages on your website.
Any good web developer should ensure this is done for you when creating your website.
Data like location and how they arrived at your website is available. This information can be analysed and used to direct more resources at your targets that may need it.
- Look at the different forms of free social media available and pick one that works for you.
You don’t have to use Facebook and Twitter and the plethora of others … just one consistently with useful and relevant information.
Once set up link it to your website and your website back to it, then post away on a regular basis. This will create and keep interest in your products and services as well as increase your search engine ranking on Google.
The key to effective social media marketing is not to bombard your audience with posts but be consistent with valuable information.
- Create a free profile and business page on LinkedIn and begin networking.
LinkedIn is a great networking tool that allows you to build a professional portfolio and business page.
Again, it’s important to link these to your website and vice versa. The more traffic you can generate back and forth the greater the chance you’ll have of having your website being at the top of Google searches.
Obviously LinkedIn doesn’t suit some industries for targeting potential customers but it’s still useful for presenting a professional online portfolio should potential customers research you or your business before committing to purchase.
- Research Content Marketing and use it across your website, chosen social media channels and on LinkedIn.
Content marketing is the strategic marketing approach of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.
The main ideal behind content marketing is that if you invest time in producing relevant content that helps your customers, not related to selling your products and services, and they in return will continue to show you loyalty by continuing to buy your products and services.
For example this article could be considered content marketing. I’ve invested time in writing an article that gives small businesses a few tips on marketing without actually trying to sell any products and services.
Will I get a ROI? Only time will tell.
- Don’t overlook traditional forms of advertising if you’re not satisfied with the results to date.
Start with simple and cheap classified advertising that directs to your website for greater brand or product awareness.
You’ll be able to assess the effectiveness using Google Analytics for the dates and locations you’ve advertised. If you don’t see peaks in website traffic try something different.
As I said this is simplified and not all you can do with regards to marketing … but hopefully it gives you a starting point that leads to success. These are the main pieces I use to initiate and navigate the marketing maze.
Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out … Robert Collier