The very nature of the business is that you have something to sell and some people who are willing to buy what you sell. Research needs to be done to answer the question about demand for your product or service. If it looks like a good idea, the first marketing initiative is to identify your target market. Who your target market is will impact what steps you take in marketing from that point forward.
One of the services that we provide is to research the numbers in your target market and if appropriate, get a list of those prospects that can be a basis for marketing outreach.
Online presence – It is almost impossible to achieve success today without some sort of presence online. Primarily this should be your own website in addition to social media. There is no shortage of web designers and online marketers, but pricing for these services are all over the place.
While we are not a web design company, we can guide you to resources that are appropriate for your budget and needs.
Direct marketing & communication – Your online presence (and your physical presence if you have a brick and mortar location) are key in allowing prospects and customers to find you, but often times that is not enough to meet your business growth needs. The cost of mass marketing or advertising can be high and often gives you little return on your investment. A better use of marketing dollars is in direct marketing. Essentially in direct marketing, you are communicating 1 on 1 with your customer or prospect. The ways you communicate in your private life are the same ways you communicate in direct marketing. So- 1-telephone (voice); 2-in person (face-to-face); 3-messaging (email or text); 4-direct mail (hardcopy). A telephone is a great tool but cold calling is a difficult challenge that many people do not enjoy doing. The phone is better suited as a follow-up tool after initial contact has been made. Face to face is the best way to communicate but to do so in a cold calling fashion can have some of the same challenges and lack of results that cold calling on the phone does. The best option for face-to-face communication might be networking (which we will discuss). Messaging, particularly email is one of the best ways to communicate with clients and prospects because of its relative ease and affordability. The downside to email is that so many are utilizing it that messages, particularly to those who you do not have a known relationship with, often get ignored or deleted. Which brings us to hard copy direct mail. While many might think this to be ‘old school’, the fact of the matter is it is actually becoming more successful as fewer people are doing it (sort of the opposite of the current situation with email). Direct mail, especially to an audience that you do not have a solid relationship with yet, is one of the best ways to establish that relationship and that leads to the other forms of communication and eventually to business.
Bob Salvas has been discussing direct mail with small businesses since 1987. While there is a cost to do mailings, it is often less of an investment than the average small business thinks.
Non-marketing Advice – When it is all said and done, you have to assess what you are doing to see if it is working. Do not pull the trigger too quickly, however as one of the quickest ways to fail is a lack of consistency in your marketing. But over time, get a handle on what is working and do more of what is working and less of what is not.
Understand that just having marketing success does not mean you will have business success. You must look at the way your business is run, your expenses as well as your profit margin. The idea is to spend less on running the business so you can spend more on growing the business. This may mean looking at your current cost or current providers and considering your options. As a small business owner since 2003, I have learned many of the pitfalls of business. Additionally, I am a certified SCORE counselor.
SCORE stands for Service Corp Of Retired Executives and it is a volunteer group that offers advice free of charge to starting or struggling small businesses. Do not be thrown by the ‘retired’ part of the acronym. Most of the SCORE counselors still run active businesses but have achieved success such that they have more free time and choose to give back to the business community that helped them achieve that success.
Contact me to discuss how I can help you or go to www.scoreri.org