There are countless reasons why small businesses fail. But it’s a dramatically shorter list of reasons why they succeed…
Courtesy of GannettLocal.
There is one form of marketing that has endured countless economic slumps, technology advances and the peaks and valleys of supply and demand. Word of Mouth. Church Chat. Grocery Store Gab. Coffee Talk. Let’s call it Grandma Marketing. Picture a gaggle of grannies sharing recipes, funny stories or gossip. Word of mouth is people sharing stories and experiences about what they like or dislike about a particular product, service or business. Word of Mouth still exists in its natural habitat though, and through the wildfire growth of social media, there’s unprecedented ways to measure and exploit marketing through Word of Mouth.
As a business owner, you are an advertiser whether you like it or not. And not taking control of the word of mouth around your brand is every bit as critical as mismanaging your books or inventory. Consumers, more often than not, give advice to close friends and family. Anybody know a good mechanic? A fair-priced plumber? A tasty pizza place? A trustworthy doctor? Good. You can put your hands down.
The marketing landscape has changed forever. Paying for a listing in the phonebook or even forking out cash for a custom website is not a marketing strategy. As part of that critical list of essentials that business owners have to be committed to, aggressive marketing should rank at the top. While it’s not easy, it’s not rocket science. If you want to catch the most or the biggest fish, you have to chum the water, bait your hooks and intelligently cast your net as far as possible. Eat what you catch or catch and release based on your desired quantity and quality of customers.
Cast Your Net
Get online – web presence is a must. A decent website created by someone who knows what they are doing is a must. Create a Facebook Business Page and Twitter Account. Claim free listings like Google Places – this is the interactive replacement for the phonebook for local businesses. Do searches for directories related to your business and location and claim any free listings available. Guerilla marketing: flyers in parking lots, door to door and community bulletin boards can be time intensive and a short-term strategy at best, but is an inexpensive way to push your brand.
Chum the Water
Tell your story. Not just what you do but where you came from. Why are you passionate about your business. Take pictures of your work. Create a branded YouTube channel for your business and video yourself and your staff. Put a face to the name. Show that you are human.Start a Blog. While keeping a clean “less-is-more” website is important, blogging can more than double your online reach and gives you and your customers a unique common forum. Blogging is also a great way to capture more testimonials and allow feedback regarding your business.
Bait & Hook
Get aggressive. Following the adage, “It takes money to make money,” take advantage of budget-based advertising like PPC or targeted Facebook Ads. Many of the afore-mentioned tactics will do much to strengthen the SEO-friendliness of your online presence. Familiarize yourself with SEO practices; every business can benefit from promotions and special offers. Special offers should be listed wherever you are listing your goods and services. In today’s deal-of-the-day world, consumers are more conditioned than ever to find the best deal and it can be a great way to generate customer traffic with low-risk. Print still works – especially when combined with online and social marketing, so don’t rule out local community newspaper ads or direct mail.
Like so many other components of a small business success, it takes blood, sweat and tears. And unless you have the luxury of time, becoming a marketing expert is no easy feat. So think long and hard about doing it yourself or trusting it to professionals who can actually cut costs.