Marketing can really translate into any area, platform, channel or experience that you choose. It is, in a way, unlimited: blank pages waiting for you to craft the next chapter in the story of your small business.
Customer Relationship Marketing specialist Carly Barnes shares five go-to marketing tactics to think about as you grow your small to medium business.
1. Digital Marketing
Digital marketing is a way of buying real estate on Google so that your company banner or advert appears on different websites and pages based on the targeting criteria you set and the budget you have.
You can also pay to get your company website to appear higher up in page results when someone searches for a specific keyword that you set on Google. This can get technical and may require bigger budgets, but there are lots of free resources – some offered by Google itself – to help you learn more about all the techniques that fall under the digital marketing umbrella.
2. Email Marketing
Email Marketing is an affordable way to start and build relationships with your potential and existing customers, and they allow you to tell a story and take your audience on a journey.
Aside from the necessary emails that you may need to send as part of the operations of your business, like when an order is completed or a quote is ready for sign-off, as an SME you may want to start thinking about a more regular and informal communications strategy with your customers that serves them relevant and interesting content, and keeps them informed on any specials you are running, or any news about your business or staff.
If you’re just starting out, look at resources like MailChimp that even offer free packages for distributing emails to your database.
Here are a few email marketing basics to consider when looking to build engagement with your community:
- For leads, or people who aren’t customers yet but that have shown interest in your business, you could create a couple of nurturing emails. These will let them know who you are and what you do; ask how you can help them get to what they are looking for; and direct them to explore more on your social pages and website.
- Create a welcome email. Think about what kind of first impression you are creating. Does it truly represent your personality and brand?
- Weekly blog email – this gives you the opportunity to touch base with your community regularly and stay top of mind.
- Monthly newsletter – a round-up of all the best content you’ve created for the month, a good platform to announce the news, and specials, profile your customers and share your stories.
3. Engaging and practical content
Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to entice potential customers and engage the one’s already in your community. Content can come in the form of blogs that you craft about your business, services, products and relevant industry topics. It can also be a social media post or a video you create and post on YouTube.
If your content is relevant and enticing it has the power to increase traffic to your website (get more eyeballs on your business and what you do), form part of your lead generation strategy (bring you more potential customers), establish you as a leader in your particular industry and even improve your organic ranking in a Google search.
The more people search for things on Google that your content is able to address well, the higher up your blog or website will appear in searches without you having to pay for it to be there.
Other kinds of content that you may want to consider for your business:
- Tips and how to’s
- Customer stories
- Opinion pieces from your staff or CEO
- Industry-specific news
- Information about your product and features
I’m a big believer in including some face-to-face interactions in your marketing strategy. What better way to really know your customer or potential customers than actually meeting them?
Put a face to that Twitter handle. Give that email address a handshake.
In a world where people are feeling more and more like they are just a number, actual human interaction can go a long way in making your customer experience feel more personal. It’s hard to really scale this kind of thing, but I believe it’s about small opportunities that you explore as often as you can. Here are a few ideas for you to consider:
- Participating in relevant industry events and expos
- Hosting an annual or quarterly meet-up with customers in different regions
- Hosting an online hangout or webinar and inviting people to ask any questions they have about your service or product
- Face-to-face interviews with customers whose stories you want to capture and share with your community
- Experiential marketing, which involves incorporating (you guessed it) experiences in your marketing strategies. Remember when flash mobs were a thing? Did you know Red Bull actually went as far as sending someone into space for the world’s highest free fall? You can tell by the number of views this campaign has on YouTube alone, what kind of impact this kind of marketing can have on your brand.
5. Traditional Marketing
What about Traditional Marketing? Like magazine adverts or billboards.
These can also be effective, but it’s a little harder to equate that value as clearly. Because these are all offline platforms there’s no way to really know what kind of traction you are getting and so this kind of strategy would be more suited to creating brand awareness.
It will also still largely depend on the nature of your business and your customers. You might find that you get a spike in interest when you place an advert in a trade magazine that has a small but niche audience which is closer to your customer than a billboard that stretches across the entrance of the airport.
Lula is all about empowering SMEs – we’re your friends in business funding! So if you are looking for funding for your business – maybe for that next big digital marketing or email marketing campaign now that you have all the smarts – apply now. It takes minutes!