Running a small business is a full-time job. How’s that for the understatement of the decade? More like two or three full-time jobs!
On top of keeping up with the books, hiring and training staff and staying on top of industry trends (and hundreds of other tasks), you need to market your business – if you want to STAY in business, that is!
I know it can be overwhelming. Marketing on its own is a full-time job!
So in the interest of simplifying this all-important task, I’m going to boil down the best marketing practices into a handful of points.
Here are the 10 marketing habits of successful small business owners:
1. They commit to consistent, ongoing marketing.
Successful small business owners view marketing as an investment, not an expense – because that’s exactly what it is!
The first thing many businesses do in times of economic uncertainty is cut their marketing budget. This is a mistake 100% OF THE TIME. In fact, if revenues are down, you should INCREASE your marketing spend.
A quick story:
My company, PostcardMania, had a great year in 2013. We had just come off our best summer ever and we thought, Hey, we’re doing great! Why not save a little money and cut back on our marketing? (For the record, it wasn’t MY idea – but I stupidly agreed to it!)
We had been mailing out 140,000 postcards a week promoting PostcardMania, and we cut it down to 125,000.
Guess what happened? Our revenue, which had been climbing consistently, went down.
So we bumped it up to 160,000 postcards a week, which not only stabilized our numbers, but helped push us to our most profitable year ever! (Today we send out 180,000 pieces per week, by the way.)
The takeaway: You get out of your marketing what you put into it!
2. They know their target market – AND THEIR COMPETITION.
Who is your ideal customer? What are his or her challenges? How can you solve them?
Marketing to people who aren’t interested in your product or service – or who aren’t qualified to buy from you – is a waste of time and money.
Finding your target market is as easy as looking at your current customer list. Who buys from you?
Just as important as knowing your target market? Knowing your competitors.
How do you do that?
- Google them
- Get on their mailing list
- Sign up for their newsletter
- Blind shop them
How much are they marketing? (If they’re marketing a ton, you’d better do even more!) Take note of what they’re doing, and do it better.
3. They have a strategy.
Marketing your small business begins with a specific, measurable goal that is realistic, yet challenging.
Like: “Earn $2 million in sales this year.”
The next step? Formulating a plan to accomplish it. What steps will you take? How will you use your marketing budget? (You have a defined marketing budget, don’t you? It could be anywhere from 12-35% of your annual gross revenue, depending on your situation.)
Spend a million bucks on a Super Bowl ad? Sure, you’ll get a ton of exposure. But can you afford it? Probably not!
4. They track, track, track their results.
This is absolutely vital. When you know which marketing efforts are working, you can put more into them – and get even MORE out of them – and stop wasting money on marketing that ISN’T working.
Marketing codes and call tracking numbers make measuring your marketing results simple and straightforward. There’s no reason NOT to use them!
But the most valuable tracking device? A good reception process, whereby every single caller is asked: “How did you hear about us?”
5. They measure return on investment (ROI), not response rate.
“What’s my response rate going to be on this?” It’s a logical, reasonable question, right? Sure – but it’s the WRONG question.
A better question is: “What’s my return on investment going to be?”
Say you send out 5,000 postcards at a cost of $2,000. If every new customer spends $1,000, you need a lot fewer responses than someone whose product or service is only $50, right? The key is to look at your return on investment.
If you send out 5,000 postcards and only get 10 responses, that doesn’t sound like a lot, does it? But if you close only half of those calls for a total revenue of $5,000, you’ve more than doubled your money! That’s marketing ROI!
6. They integrate their marketing strategy.
When you’re marketing a small business, you need to take advantage of every single opportunity.
Your prospects are using multiple platforms – so should you!
Send out postcards and email newsletters. Try pay per click advertising. Blog. Use social media. Try everything!
Stick with what works, of course – and if you’re tracking properly – what works will become obvious pretty quickly!
7. Stay true to your brand.
Keep the look and feel of all your marketing materials consistent. Have a professional logo designed and put it on absolutely everything. This will help people remember you.
Every time a prospect sees your logo, that’s an impression. Multiple impressions add up to awareness, and awareness can turn into sales when those prospects need your product or service!
8. Build relationships, not sales.
Remember, your customers are your target market! They bought from you once, they are likely to buy from you again. Nurture those relationships!
Talk to your customers. Not only will that increase their affinity for your business, you can learn about their wants and needs and figure out how to meet them. Reward them for doing business with you. Send them vouchers for birthday discounts or exclusive deals via email.
Happy customers are loyal customers!
9. Always follow up.
Remember that a lead who reached out to you is INTERESTED in your product or service. That means they are more valuable (and easier to close) than someone who has never shown interest in you.
A statistic I love to share with my clients is this:
80% of sales occur on or after the FIFTH contact, according to the National Sales Executives Association
If you don’t close the sale on the first contact, DON’T GIVE UP! Contact them regularly over time through various channels. This “warms them up” until they’re ready to buy.
- 3 days after call: follow-up phone call
- 7 days after call: postcard
- 2 weeks after call: email
- 3 weeks after call: another follow-up call
- 6 weeks after call: second email
You get the idea!
10. Ask for help.
Small business owners wear a lot of hats. You have to know your business inside and out! But you can only do SO MUCH.
I’m a business owner who is also a marketer. Still, I hired a Chief Marketing Officer to call the shots on a day to day basis. (She’s brilliant, by the way.) I couldn’t always be the marketer – it wasn’t what was best for my business!
Instead of letting marketing fall by the wayside, when it gets to be too much, pass the hat to someone capable of handing it for you. Whether it’s someone already on staff, or you hire a marketing guru or a whole marketing firm – it’s worth it. Because NOT marketing is just too costly.
There you have it! If you want to keep reading up on successful marketing tips, I’ve compiled a FREE report of REAL offers that have worked for small businesses across 17 different industries.
If you want your business to succeed at marketing, learning from what has already worked is a proven way to do it.
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