By: Samantha Scott, APR
Are you a small business owner? Are you looking for resources to help grow your business, or at least lighten your burden and get a little more cash flow movement? I can relate. As the owner of a small business for more than 12 years, I can appreciate how hard you work and can relate to your drive. At some point, however, you realize, you can’t do it all. Perhaps for you, “it all” is marketing. Well, I’m here to help you.
Here are three tips for growing your small business with strategic, cost-effective and proven marketing strategies.
Use Social (Free) Media
Social media is the easiest, most cost-effective medium for small businesses. Offering unparalleled reach and targeting, your small business can leverage channels including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, SnapChat and more to increase awareness and reach the right people with your message.
Start by creating an account as a business (not a personal Facebook page, etc.). Complete the about section with factual, keyword-rich information about your business, and be sure to include links to your website. Then, start posting relevant, value-added content based on each channels’ best practices. Monitor your audience’s engagement via each channel’s metrics. What content is your audience most engaged with (liking, commenting, retweeting) and when are they most active (time of day, the day of the week)? Start scheduling/publishing your content at these times and on these days.
The more people know about your business, the more opportunity you have to generate more customers. Be sure to focus on local/regional audience development if you have a storefront/physical location. If you are an online small business, then focus on the market areas most likely to buy your product (i.e. don’t market snowsuits to Floridians).
Tell Your Story
This is hard for some, maybe you. Do you struggle to talk about yourself or your business? Or, are you the kind of person who loves to talk about their business? Getting the word out about your business is important, as briefly discussed above. One way to do that is through public relations (or PR).
You can do this via publicity – getting media coverage, awards, community relations, and more. Telling your story helps people get to know you. If you have a compelling story it can help them connect with you. Consider Tom’s Shoes. They don’t sell the most stylish shoes. In fact, I don’t think they look that good at all. But I have a pair and so do many other people. Why? Because consumers nowadays care about why. It’s what’s made Apple billions of dollars and what Simon Sinek says drives leaders to inspire action.
Create Brand Ambassadors
How many times have you looked up a restaurant on Yelp or read reviews on a business’ Facebook page? Your customers (or potential customers) do the same thing. Online reputation management is no joke. Encourage your fans, those customers that come back regularly, to share their opinions online. If those customers tell others that they like your business and/or product then others may consider trying it. Word-of-mouth is a powerful tool, but it’s also a double-edged sword.
Make sure to not only develop reviews but to also respond to them – good or bad. If you ignore the bad, potential customers will see that and question your integrity and become more likely to believe the review (even if it’s false). Instead, if you address the issues you can not only improve customer service, products, etc. going forward, you can also build relationships with both those who weren’t so happy the first time and those who are reading the review, deciding whether or not to try your business.
In short, no, these three tips won’t make money start falling from the sky. They will, however, help you start growing, one review, one comment, one share, one web lead at a time. If we can help, let us know.