As a business owner, you don’t have too much time on your hands to worry about marketing.
With your energy spread across all areas of the company and focusing on product development and business growth, marketing usually falls at the bottom of the to-do list.
Only that, it should be a priority .
And, here’s why.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration , there were over 2 million small businesses registered in New York.
For one thing, this shows New York as a prosperous state, with numerous possibilities. But if you’re reading this as a business owner yourself, that means heavy competition.
Here’s an example: Let’s assume that you have set up an online retail store. There are over 170,000 registered businesses currently active in the Retail Trade industry in New York, which means your audience has plenty of options to choose from at any given time.
Sure, once you start going into the specific profile of each business those numbers will most likely go down, but the fact remains that you have to constantly stay ahead of your competitors if you want to succeed.
And, one way to do that is through marketing.
Small businesses depend on marketing to grab the attention of prospective buyers and increase their profits. It’s not just about creating a certain level of buzz around your name, a good marketing strategy can also increase your visibility, bring in new leads, and eventually turn them into loyal customers.
But where do you start? Well, here are seven proven marketing ideas that can help you outdo your competition and boost your bottom line:
#1: Pay-Per-Click Campaigns
Pay-Per-Click (or PPC) advertising is an excellent way to reach more people online. It can help you generate traffic to your website and draw potential leads faster than if you were to build them organically. However, for this strategy to be effective, you need to target the right keywords.
Sure, you may want to rank high for relevant keywords, such as “vegan restaurant,” but the reality is that the competition is fierce, and you will have to pour a lot of money in, to see significant results. A smarter strategy would be to focus on long-tail keywords that are specific to your local area, such as “best veggie burger New York.”
But, how can you determine what keywords to target?
Try to anticipate your prospects’ needs and the words they are likely to use when searching for what interests them. Then use a tool such as KWFinder to research the exact phrases people are searching for.
#2: Partner with Local Community Groups and Organizations
Everybody loves a good cause, and so do your customers. Not only will a collaboration with a local group or organization boost your visibility, but it will also show prospects that you care about the community and want to make it better. That can increase their trust for you and make them more likely to choose you over your competitors.
It’s up to you how you want to get involved. You could, for example, donate a part of your profits, host events, or organize a fundraiser.
Make sure to choose a cause that is compatible with your business – if you’re a restaurant, for example, you could pick a group that focuses on food waste reduction.
#3: Leverage Local Events
Another opportunity for growth that a lot of small business owners are ignoring are local events.
Think about it this way: your potential customers are already interested and likely to take part in them, so why not leverage their interest and cash in on the extra exposure?
When I say ‘events’, I’m not necessarily just talking about conferences or industry-specific events. Think outside the box and be present at events where your potential customers might frequent.
You can use platforms such as EventBrite to search for locally based and relevant events in your area:
#4: Develop a Customer Referral Program
In general, a referral customer is more likely to become a loyal customer, and it will cost you less to acquire them.
Here are five easy steps to start your referral program:
- Gather together your existing contacts list: current customers, past customers, people you’ve collaborated with and so on.
- Establish those who could be an advocate and give you a referral.
- Identify those who appreciate your business, or who are valuable contacts (based on their position and influence).
- Choose the right incentive for your advocates.
- Establish how you will promote your program.
#5: Create a Google Review Strategy
Potential customers will most likely look up your business online to decide whether or not to contact you. It’s why you should be paying extra attention to your business’ online reviews.
The first place to start is Google. Create a Google My Business profile and generate a review link. Then encourage your customers to offer reviews if they’re pleased with your product or service. You can even give them incentives to do so.
After that, monitor your reviews closely. If someone leaves a negative comment about you, don’t worry – it’s not the end of the world. In fact, negative reviews make your business look more authentic and trustworthy. It is, however, essential you respond to that negative comment and address the problem the customer had while using your product/service.
#6: Automate Email Conversations
It’s vital for you to keep a constant line of communication between you and your customers. It creates a strong bond, and people are more likely to keep coming to your business if they perceive you as a partner.
But it can be a full-time job chit-chatting with all of your customers. So, how should you proceed?
The answer you are looking for is email automation. Whether you use a virtual assistant or an application that streamlines your email marketing needs and sends timely messages to your customers, it’s an excellent way to nurture a fruitful relationship that could eventually lead to sales.
Read this article to find out more about automating business processes, including email communication.
#7: Make the Most of New Social Media Advertising Channels
Savvy businesses have embraced social media, even the fringe channels like Snapchat or Instagram. Many small companies, on the other hand, still see them as frivolous platforms that are more of a time suck, than a business benefit. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Here’s the thing: social media usage is increasing at a fast pace, with over two billion people already logging in every day. And, users expect to find their favorite brands on social media too. If you are ignoring social media, then you are missing out on a valuable opportunity to reach out and connect with potential buyers.
Another reason social media is a must, is that the audience targeting of the social ad platforms is extremely accurate and allows you to choose the exact profile of people you want to target through your ad campaigns.
Obviously, there is no shortage of marketing methods you can take a swing at. The seven marketing ideas presented above are perfect if you’re in a ‘small fish in a big pond’ sort of situation, which is the case for most small businesses located in a competitive environment like New York State.
In such a competitive market, advertising and marketing aren’t something you can just ignore. Word-of-mouth will only help you survive for so long!
Give them a shot next time you plan on starting a marketing campaign, and the results won’t disappoint.