If you are a small business owner with the aspirations of Richard Branson, but without the budget, you may be wondering how to start your marketing.
Before you rush off to start it is vital to remember that effective marketing begins with strategy: understanding where you are now, where you want to be, and how to get there. Whether your aim is to increase sales, drive traffic to your website, boost profits, or satisfy your customers – a comprehensive and well defined strategy will help you to achieve your marketing goals.
Some points to consider when formulating a marketing plan:
Define your goals
You may think your primary goal is to increase visibility for your product or service and have more people aware of it, but you need to take this one step further. You don’t just want people to know about your business, you want people to become your customers.
In order to covert people from an audience to your customers or clients, you’ll need to solve a problem for them. Either your product is something they need or would like, or your service offers a convenience or skill that is sought after. As you define your goals, you’ll also need to define your potential customer’s problems and how you solve them.
Then, this solution will need to be communicated in your advertising.
Learn where to find your audience
Reaching your audience is important, but do you know where to reach them? If you are a beautician, would a roadside billboard work best or would you be better off in a local magazine for women?
You must tailor your content and choose your advertising platform based on where your customers are most likely to be reached.
Stay on brand
Although almost anything goes in the advertising world, it’s important that you know who your company is and the importance of staying on brand. What may work well for a beer or entertainment company may not translate to your industry. Knowing what’s appropriate in your field is as important as knowing where to reach your customers.
Marketing agencies or designers can help you develop a brand for your company if you don’t already have one. Just remember to keep the messaging consistent across all platforms and throughout all your campaigns.
Learn how to do some things yourself
If your business has active social media sites, you may want some initial help branding those, but if you are proficient at using the platforms you may want to interact with your customers on your own instead of paying a company to do it for you.
The same goes for your website. If you are a confident writer you may not need to hire a copywriter, or get anyone else to update your website. Once you have a WordPress website set up, take the time to learn how to update it yourself, you will soon find it is relatively simple, and a lot more cost effective.
Be realistic about your goals
If your company is brand new and you’re just getting starting to advertise it, don’t think you’ll become the next national sensation overnight.
Building a quality business with loyal customers takes a lot of time and effort. Every “overnight success” is actually years in the making. You probably won’t have new customers or clients knocking down your doors in the first week of your advertising campaign. But over time results will come.
Make use of free resources
Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are free to create, as are things like Google Maps, Google Locations and Yelp. If you have a physical location or website for your business, you’ll want to make sure it can be discovered through Google, Yelp, Facebook or other prominent social media sites.
Remember that when you begin advertising, instant results are unlikely. Advertising should always be part of your long-term business strategy to establish and maintain awareness of your brand.