Top 10 marketing strategies for your small business

If you’re determined to make it as a small business owner, you have to be smart about where – and how – you market your business and on which marketing strategies you spend your money.

(photo courtesy flikr.com)

Now, more than ever, in this economy you have to focus your marketing efforts so that you reap the most benefit from your dollars. Take these ten steps into consideration if you’re trying to make your business recession-proof:

  1. Stand out from the competition –  What does your competition offer? How do your services differ from theirs? What can you offer your clients in the way of additional goods or services or other benefits that they can’t get from the competition? Do you offer free, overnight delivery? Guarantees on your work? Make sure your customers know what you offer.
  2. Build relationships —  Create a customer database and contact your customers on a regular basis. Keep them in mind at times other than when you have a sale running. Send them a birthday card, anniversary card (on the date they made a purchase from you, as an example). For each month you don’t have contact with your customer, you lose 10% of their loyalty.
  3. Audit your time and think big–  Regardless of the size of your business (you and your single line telephone) act like you’re bigger than you are. It’s not the size of the staff you employ, but the amount of customer service you offer. Conversely, if you’re spending an inordinate amount of time on routine office tasks, you’re missing the opportunity to market to your client base.
  4. First impressions count —  Make certain your employees are positive and upbeat every time they call or visit your office. When you hire staff spend time making certain the people you employ will put their best foot forward and be committed to your success (if you succeed, chances are they will as well).
  5. Make your expectations known – Do your employees know what you expect of them when they are with a customer? If you own a retail outlet, do your employees merely point out the direction of an item a customer is seeking or do they walk them to the specific section of the store? Do they greet each customer with a smile and a hello?
  6. Always collect email addresses –– In today’s era of instant communication, you might find your customers would be more apt to open an email newsletter than they would be to take a trip to the mail box and read a flyer. Email is an inexpensive way to keep in touch with your clients but make it worth their while; offer them a valuable tip in every email, offer a coupon, or a discount the next time they stop in.
  7. Make your website work for you —  We are assuming your business has a website; if you don’t you could be missing the boat because chances are, your competition does have a website. If you do have a site, make certain you have a shopping cart on it. Online sales are on the upswing as people want to avoid crowds, save time, and give into impulse purchases. Make certain yours is the business they come to to satisfy those wants.
  8. Spread the word – Cultivate relationships with the local media. Send out press releases. When you’re contacting the media, make certain you have something of interest to impart – a company anniversary, an employee who is coming back to work after having served abroad.
  9. The power of advertising – Because of the price of newspaper or print advertising, many business owners are trimming their budgets for these outlet, so why not consider offering pay per click advertising on your website. Advertisers can bid on keywords on your site and the more popular the word or phrase, the more expensive each click is. Pay per click helps ensure that your site receives top of the page visibility with search engines and this, in turn, will drive potential customers to your site.
  10. Be trendy – Is there a trend in your industry on which you can capitalize? Do you offer a unique service or product that lends itself to trends or seasonal marketing?

Bottom line, track your marketing efforts so you know if what you’re doing is working and if you find it’s not, then change your aim and try again.

Posted in Marketing | Leave a comment

Social Media Marketing for Restaurants may not be all it’s cracked up to be

If you’re in the restaurant – or any business – you may have heard that you simply have to get involved in social media marketing. Contrary to what everyone is saying, there are myths surrounding social media.  See if you have heard any of these.

Myth 1:  If you build it, they will come.  Well it’s true that you can build it, but it’s not true that it will attract new followers.  In fact you can have a social media platform such as Facebook and Twitter and have virtually no one following you.  Building a social media following takes time, effort and know how, just like building a successful restaurant.  But it doesn’t happen overnight. 

Myth 2:  Social media will get you lots of customers.  Think of it this way, social media is well, social.  I liken it to a big party that anyone can go to.  But if you go to a party and start passing out your business cards immediately, you’ll likely make few friends. The same is true with social media.  If you set up a Twitter or Facebook account and use it only to put out advertising materials most people will be uninterested. Just like it takes time to build relationships at a party so will it take time to build credibility on social media.  For most restaurants, you’re may not get sales right away.  It really depends on how well your followers know you already.   So if you’re going to participate in social media, seek first to be social, make friends, then invite them to buy.

 Myth 3:  I can hire a company to do that:  Lots of new companies (and old ones as well) have sprung up touting that they will do social media for you for a fee.  And yes they can.  But think about it this way, can someone go on a date for you or in your place with the person you would like to be “married” to?  Well yes they could, but would the person then marry you or the substitute?  The same is true in social media.  The most effective restaurant owners that I know who use social media such as Twitter of Facebook actually use it themselves.  They also may have a restaurant team member manage social media. The difference is the restaurant team member works in your business and knows more intricately what’s going on, what the personality of your company is and so on; an outside company would not know that. 

 Don’t get me wrong, though, social media marketing can be a hugely profitable tool for your restaurant if you use it correctly and here’s why:

  1. Social media marketing for restaurants is a great way to build brand loyalty.
  2. Social media marketing for restaurants is a new marketing frontier that many of your competitors and customers are utilizing.
  3. Social media marketing for restaurants is an excellent way to reach market segments that you might not have considered.
  4. Social media marketing for restaurants is a cost-effective way to reach new customers.
  5. Social media marketing for restaurants is a great way to get feedback from current customer or to learn about competitors.  You might learn from the customer comments that are garnered as to which of your goods or services are most appreciated by them.

 While we believe in social media as a great way to get, and keep, in touch with our clients, you need to really make certain you have the time, effort and dollars to commit to it before you jump in. If you would like more ideas about restaurant marketing, feel free to connect with us on Facebook or Twitter.

Posted in Marketing, Restaurants | Leave a comment

You’ve got them to call? Now what? 6 Mistakes Businesses Make when Prospects Call

You’ve spent considerable time, effort and yes, money, in an attempt to market your business. Perhaps you’ve run ads in the local paper, participated in networking groups, gone on speaking engagements and even made cold calls. Your efforts have paid off, though, and now the phones are ringing with people requesting your goods or services.

Now all the hard work is done and you can sit back and relax, right? Wrong. Now is the time to train your sales staff to make the most of those ringing phones and walk-in customers. If you’re a solo-preneur you need to be especially vigilant when you’re marking efforts have paid off and the phones start ringing.

These are the top six mistakes to avoid when business prospects call:

Mistake 1:  Not answering the phone. There will be times when you need to put the phones on voice mail but make certain those times are rare. When a prospective client is calling it’s because they have a need that they want met immediately – don’t have them calling the competition because you had your phones going to voice mail.

Mistake 2:  Not returning their message. For those inevitable times when a phone call must go to voice mail, make certain you return calls as soon as possible. Again, your client called today, they’d like to hear back from you today.

Mistake 3:  Putting them on hold for too long. While no one wants to be on hold, there are times it can’t be helped, just make certain it isn’t a long wait. Additionally, while your prospective customer is on hold, use that time wisely by having an on hold message that keeps them interested in your goods and services.

Mistake 4:  Not asking them how they heard about you. As a way to tell where your marketing dollars are bearing fruit, you need to ask your phone callers where they heard about you. Also, if they heard about you from a friend or colleague, you want to give that referral a call (or send a thank you gift) for thinking of you.

Mistake 5:  Not confirming their information such as name, phone number, etc. Keep an information-gathering notepad by the phone. Always remember to collect the caller’s name, phone number, email and other pertinent information.

Mistake 6:  Not thanking them for calling. Even if your phone call doesn’t lead to any business, make certain you thank the caller for thinking of you and ask them to refer you to others.

In today’s instant communication era of text messages and emails, make certain your phone etiquette skills stay on ahead of the curve when it comes to not making these common phone mistakes.

Posted in Marketing, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

You’ve got them to call? Now what? 6 Mistakes Businesses Make when Prospects Call

You’ve spent considerable time, effort and yes, money, in an attempt to market your business. Perhaps you’ve run ads in the local paper, participated in networking groups, gone on speaking engagements and even made cold calls. Your efforts have paid off, though, and now the phones are ringing with people requesting your goods or services.

Now all the hard work is done and you can sit back and relax, right? Wrong. Now is the time to train your sales staff to make the most of those ringing phones and walk-in customers. If you’re a solo-preneur you need to be especially vigilant when you’re marking efforts have paid off and the phones start ringing.

These are the top six mistakes to avoid when business prospects call:

Mistake 1: Not answering the phone. There will be times when you need to put the phones on voice mail but make certain those times are rare. When a prospective client is calling it’s because they have a need that they want met immediately – don’t have them calling the competition because you had your phones going to voice mail.

Mistake 2: Not returning their message. For those inevitable times when a phone call must go to voice mail, make certain you return calls as soon as possible. Again, your client called today, they’d like to hear back from you today.

Mistake 3: Putting them on hold for too long. While no one wants to be on hold, there are times it can’t be helped, just make certain it isn’t a long wait. Additionally, while your prospective customer is on hold, use that time wisely by having an on hold message that keeps them interested in your goods and services.

Mistake 4: Not asking them how they heard about you. As a way to tell where your marketing dollars are bearing fruit, you need to ask your phone callers where they heard about you. Also, if they heard about you from a friend or colleague, you want to give that referral a call (or send a thank you gift) for thinking of you.

Mistake 5: Not confirming their information such as name, phone number, etc. Keep an information-gathering notepad by the phone. Always remember to collect the caller’s name, phone number, email and other pertinent information.

Mistake 6: Not thanking them for calling. Even if your phone call doesn’t lead to any business, make certain you thank the caller for thinking of you and ask them to refer you to others.

In today’s instant communication era of text messages and emails, make certain your phone etiquette skills stay on ahead of the curve when it comes to not making these common phone mistakes.

Posted in Marketing, Phone call etiquette | Leave a comment

test

test

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment