A critical element to any successful small business is developing an effective marketing plan.
While larger businesses have the ability to invest massive amounts of resources into their marketing efforts, most small businesses don’t have that luxury. Smaller businesses need to figure out how to get the most bang for their marketing buck.
The key in coming up with a good strategy is not being intimidated by the marketing process.
Don’t try to figure out ‘marketing’ just focus on things that will make you more visible to the people who want to be your customers, then stuff will happen.
- Don’t waste time doing the things you aren’t good at. Implement the things you feel comfortable doing, if you’re not a sales person don’t try a telesales campaign. Devote your resources where you feel comfortable like good, useful communications; weekly emails, direct mailings and pay-per-click campaigns.
- Use promotions to make customers feel special. Things like “steal a card” program. Every time you get a business card from someone you meet — whether it’s a customer or at a networking event — take down their information and send them something, a newsletter, a small gift with your contact details on. Include a note about how you might be able to help their business through your products or services.
- Be a business leader. Get active in your local networking organisations, such as BNI and your chamber of commerce. Particularly for small businesses sitting within the four walls of your office or shop and waiting for the next customer to find you is never a good plan. You need to become a business leader in your community, put your hand up to help out.
- Say thank you. One way to gain repeat customers is by always saying thank you. Whether it’s a thank you note in the mail or with their order or an after sales email. Not only does it leave customers with a good impression, but it also serves as a reminder to them that there may be something else they want to order.
- Change what doesn’t work. Don’t be afraid to change your plan when something doesn’t work. You have to keep checking your results, for example something that is giving you lots of new prospects but no actual sales is not good for your business. Direct those resources into another program. Your plan should constantly evolve to give you the best results.
What small business owners need to remember about creating a marketing plan is that it needs to revolve around making themselves more visible to those they don’t already know and keeping customers in the fold after a sale is made. That’s why a regular communication and thank-you note program is so successful. It makes an impression on customers that you carry on a dialogue after the transaction.