As a business owner, you know that success depends on finding and keeping customers. Your products or services may be top-notch but without customers, you won’t be profitable. You’ll need to develop a comprehensive strategy in order to not only reach the consumers who can benefit from your products but also convince them to make a purchase. Fortunately, there are secure and effective marketing techniques you can employ that will take your business exactly where you want it to go.
1 Create a Brand
Perhaps the single most impactful marketing action you can take is to create a clear company identity. Think about well-established companies whose brands are easily recognizable, like Nike or Coca-Cola. It’s no accident that most people can instantly identify their logos and advertisements. The investment in creating a clear brand for your company can be substantial, in terms of both money and effort, but the pay-off could be immense. If your business is just getting started and obtaining financing is an obstacle, consider opening a secured credit card.
Start the process of building a brand by defining exactly what your company is and how you want it to be perceived. Then find the name, colors, images, and logo to match. Because this process is both art and science, you may want to hire an agency or individual with the necessary expertise. It’s highly advisable to design a prototype and then test it through the use of focus groups. This involves gathering small groups of people who are demographically similar to your potential customers and showing them your logo and other components of your branding. By asking probing questions and listening carefully to your participants’ feedback, you’ll identify which aspects are effective and which need tweaking.
Once you have settled on your logo, company colors, and other brand specifics, use them everywhere, including your email signature, website, envelopes, business cards, and advertising. If appropriate for your business model, you can also brand items such as t-shirts, pens, and water bottles.
2 Email with Care
As a marketing strategy, email has many advantages. With very little time, effort, and money, you can reach large numbers of consumers instantaneously. However, you want to make sure your email content is of value to the recipient; otherwise, you run the risk of annoying or even repelling potential customers. Don’t waste your readers’ precious time; only send emails that are interesting and relevant to your customer base. Also, make sure your email communications are well-written and meticulously proofread, as any errors will cast doubt on the quality of your company’s products.
Probably the biggest challenge in developing your email marketing plan is building the email distribution list. You’ll need to put thought and effort into capturing your potential customers’ email addresses. Make sure your website has several “opt-in” areas where people can sign up to receive an email, enter a contest, or get a discount. Keep in mind that, along with providing consumers with opportunities to opt-in, you must also give them the chance to opt-out of receiving your communications at any time.
3 Leverage your Website
Remember the days when people networked by exchanging business cards? While there are still situations in which business cards can be effective marketing tools, today’s equivalent is your company’s website. This is where many of your customers get their first impression of your business and it’s a great opportunity for you to shine. If you don’t have one yet, it’s relatively simple and highly recommended to create an effective website. There are lots of options, ranging from do-it-yourself to hiring experts to do it all. Whatever route you take, make sure your site is engaging and relevant. This involves reviewing the content regularly and updating it as appropriate.
Of the many decisions you’ll make when creating your website, one of the most important is selecting the domain name, or website address. Make sure it is short, memorable, easy to spell, and optimized for search engines. You’ll need to research your desired domain name and, since most of the best ones are already taken, will likely need to purchase it from the owner.
Another key consideration for your website is whether it will host financial transactions. If your customers can purchase goods or services from you online, you’ll need to select the best e-commerce platform for your company’s needs. There are lots of options, so explore the possibilities thoroughly before making a decision.
4 Optimize the Search Engines
Because searching via Google and other programs is the way most people are directed to websites, you want to ensure that your page pops to the top when a potential customer is looking for your products or services. The best way to make this happen is to use the keywords your customers are searching for. Known as search engine optimization (SEO), this method is a key tool in your marketing toolbox. When your website appears on the first page of Google search results, the odds of a consumer clicking on it are greatly increased.
Keep in mind that SEO is not a once-and-done process. Google’s algorithms change over time, so you’ll need to make sure your keywords are still ranking high. There are lots of tools available that will analyze your search engine optimization and help you make adjustments to increase the placement of your website in searches. Do your research and find an analyzer that fits your needs.
5 Advertise on Facebook
Another way to reach specific groups is by advertising on Facebook. The vast reach and robust database mean that Facebook ads can target large numbers of potential customers based on location, interests, age, sex, and many other factors. As compared to traditional methods of advertising such as billboards and television commercials, advertising on Facebook is simple and relatively inexpensive. And, because you are reaching out to people who are demographically similar to your existing customers, rather than casting a wide net, your odds of hooking a sale are increased.
How you market your business is directly related to its success. By thoughtfully applying proven marketing strategies, you can reach new customers while building stronger relationships with existing ones, ultimately boosting your bottom line.