Small business is the backbone of our economy. SBA.gov notes that 28 million small businesses account for 54% of all U.S. sales. Unfortunately, many of those businesses fail due to a lack of a well-defined marketing strategy. Developing a solid marketing plan that includes social media, public relations and brand development is essential to any business, large or small, brick & mortar or on-line. To get started, consider incorporating these marketing tips into your business plan:
- Embrace social media. If you aren’t familiar with how the major platforms work, e.g. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, take the time to learn. YouTube has numerous how-to videos to assist you in learning the basics of social media.
- Identify where and how your target audience searches for your product or service. Not every social media channel will provide the same “boost” when marketing your wares.
- Invest in a professional-looking website. Everyone searches on-line. Consumers expect businesses to project a polished image and relevant customer-oriented information on their website.
- Provide information that your customer wants and needs, not what you think they want to hear.
- Recognize the value of market research. Research provides insights into your customers’ buying habits, economic trends and changes in the legal landscape, which ultimately affects your sales and ROI.
- Appreciate that marketing costs money. Effective marketing will provide a solid return. Develop a marketing budget and re-evaluate on a regular basis.
- Network! Network! Network! Attend professional association events where your target audience is likely to attend. Ask questions. Listen.
- Just because you meet someone once, does not mean they are ready to buy. Recognize the stages of the Buyer’s Journey and craft your marketing and sales tactics, accordingly.
- Be authentic. Today’s consumer can instantly educate himself on a brand and its key competitors. Review sites abound. Therefore, transparency, honesty and a consistent focus on creating a positive customer experience will elevate loyalty and extend brand awareness.