By | Devin Caldwell
As a business owner, you know that the key to success is sales. Whether you’re offering products or services, your business cannot survive without customers who are willing to pay. To ensure that your awesome product reaches the consumers who need it most, you’ll need a robust marketing strategy. Fortunately, there are concrete steps you can take to improve your business’ marketing plan and therefore its bottom line. Here are a few of the most effective.
Research the Market
As a business owner, you’re likely passionate about your product and motivated to let everyone know about it. You may be tempted to just go for it, believing that the world will love your business just as much as you do. However, you should really take a step back and do some quality market research to understand the landscape of your industry. Market research involves collecting information such as who your competition is, how similar products are priced, and whether or not there is an actual need for what your business offers. This type of research often involves online searches as well as interviews with potential customers, competitors, and experts. Once you understand the realities of the marketplace, you can make strategic choices about crucial aspects of your business. Skipping this step means you’re likely operating on intuition rather than facts, which can lead to potentially devastating business decisions.
Understand Your Customer
While it may be tempting to think that anyone is your potential customer, you should dig a bit deeper into finding out who your ideal audience is. A small business is much more likely to be successful by appealing to consumers within a well-defined niche. Determining your niche, or distinct segment of the overall market, involves truly understanding who your product appeals to and why. Knowing who your customers are, what their spending habits are, and what solutions they are looking for is key in crafting your message. Understanding your audience thoroughly allows you to communicate with them on a personal, authentic level, which goes a long way in establishing trust and, hopefully, long-term relationships.
One way to gain invaluable insight is by conducting focus groups of existing or potential customers. Share your products and the marketing messages you are considering. Ask open-ended questions about which aspects appeal to them, which do not, and why. Listen carefully, take notes, make adjustments as appropriate, and then test again. Taking the time to truly know your customer and then tailoring your messages specifically to them is a proven way to focus your marketing efforts and increase their effectiveness.
Cultivate Lasting Relationships
It’s much easier and less expensive to keep a customer than it is to acquire a new one, so make sure you don’t take your existing customers for granted. They already know and trust you, assuming their experience with your business was a good one. Capitalize on this relationship by finding ways to stay connected, perhaps offering loyal customer discounts or informative content that will be useful to them. And remember, word of mouth can be the best marketing tool of all. Give your customers reasons and ways to share their personal stories of how your product improved their lives.
Leverage Social Media
Consumers today who are considering purchasing a product or service are likely to research their options through an internet search. If your business pops up on the first page of search results, potential customers are much more likely to click on it, which brings you closer to your next sale. One of the best ways to increase the positioning of your business on internet searches is by setting up your ‘Google My Business’ listing. Doing so is free and easy, making it a great way to quickly upgrade your marketing plan.
Your company website is another heavy-hitter on your marketing team. Make sure your website is attractive, informative, and professional-looking. This is likely where your potential customers get their first impression of your business, so you want to make it a good one. Watch out for misspellings and poor grammar, since these errors raise suspicions about the overall quality of your business. You’ll also want to be sure critical information, like what your business offers and how customers can contact you, are prominently displayed. Check your site regularly to make sure all content is up-to-date, photos are displaying correctly, and links are working.
You might consider creating a blog to draw more traffic to your website. A blog can be an effective way to provide useful information to potential customers and build trust in your business as an expert in your industry. One word of caution: Make sure your blog is well-written and helpful or entertaining. Consumers are bombarded with content every day and are unlikely to spend time reading something that doesn’t captivate them.
Don’t forget the power of social media. While you may think people use it only for personal connections and entertainment, they actually receive lots of information through social media that can influence their purchasing decisions. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn are some of the more popular platforms today. Each has its unique strengths and limitations, so you’ll want to tailor your message depending on which one you’re using. By posting interesting, helpful, or just friendly content, you can communicate with the masses with very little effort. Remember to respond immediately and appropriately to any questions or comments a potential customer may post, in order to demonstrate the excellent customer service your business provides.
Remember the Power of Email
With the rise of social media, you may think that email marketing is fading into the background. In fact, it remains a powerful way to reach and convince potential customers to consider your products or services. By building a distribution list of consumers and then strategically emailing them, you can market your business, build trust with potential customers, and provide value with helpful content.
Probably the most difficult aspect of implementing an email marketing strategy is developing your distribution list. This consists of the email addresses of people who have given you permission to communicate with them. You could obtain these addresses through an opt-in area on your website or other means such as requesting the information at the point of sale. The bottom line is that the recipient of your email must have given you their email address voluntarily and they must have the ability to opt-out at any time. So, the process of building the list may be slow, but your patience and persistence will pay off. Whether your list contains two people or two thousand, make sure you’re sending content that is worthy of their attention. People are inundated with email messages every day; make sure yours stand out with eye-catching subject lines that won’t get filtered as spam.
The success of your small business relies on your ability to connect your products and services to the consumers who can benefit from them. If people don’t know about your business, you can’t sell to them. An effective marketing strategy allows you to identify your ideal customer and then engage with them through effective, targeted messages. Matching your product to the people who need it is your goal, and a good marketing plan will help you achieve success.