Many business owners find that marketing is somewhat of a catch-22. Even though it's the last thing you should cut from your budget, it is often the first. For 2012 here are a few must haves in your marketing mix for any small business whether you selling products or services.
1. Business Cards
Duh, right? Don't pinch on quality for your business cards, have them professionally designed and printed on good paper. They are an inexpensive way to give out your information.
If you don't have a solid website, it is past time to get one. It not only adds to your credibility and gives customers peace of mind, it can be a way to communicate with your clients on an emotional level.
Your website should tell a story, look current and be easy to use, with your contact information (or how to buy) on every page or easy to find. Where you might have paid $10,000 for a site, this is not the case any more for small, simple sites. On the other hand, you do get what you pay for and quality service is a very important trait to have in your web designer. Read more about my website design services.
3. Review Sites/Online Directories
Have you claimed your Google Places page? Yelp listing? Angieslist? All of these (and more!) are FREE to list your business, add to your website's page ranking, allow users to rave about you and find you easily. It can be time consuming and a pain in the rear, but it is well worth it.
4. Social Media
Another FREE place to list your business - Twitter, Facebook, Google +, etc... but does take a commitment to posting regularly. Use tools like Hootsuite to schedule posts and monitor activity. Don't forget to respond to comments! This is a great place to be in conversation with your customers.
A blog adds two things to your online marketing:
- Traffic to your website through search engines
- Establishing you as an expert
This article has some great research on Blogging and Social Media.
Remember: It doesn't matter how much traffic you get to your blog or your website if you don't inspire an action like a contact or a sale!
For many of us, we are referral based businesses which means that web traffic and traditional advertising, while helpful, don't create as many leads as our referral base. Who is your referral base? Don't be afraid to ask people for referrals!
- Past clients
- Current clients
- Business contacts
- Friends, neighbors
- Strategic partnerships
- Trade associations
- Referral groups
How do you find time for all of this and provide a superb product or service? Of course a good time management system can't hurt, but you can also find virtual assistants and outsourced marketing to give you a hand.
For any marketing activity you have to really work it - be in it for the long haul, don't give up and do it regularly.