Whether your business is new or just in need of a marketing revamp, it’s important to start from the bottom. Let’s take a look at ten of the most important marketing basics that any small business needs to get to grips with.
As you can probably tell, these tips are only in a vague order, and often feed into each other with some needing to be completed in tandem. But let’s not waste any time – on with the list!
1. Logo & Branding
It’s important to define the visuals for your brand, and preferably record them all in a document. Define your logo, any related graphics, any fonts and brand colours. When you’re creating marketing materials in future, you can easily refer back to these guidelines to make things look more cohesive; in turn creating a professional impression. The decisions that go into this step may change as points 2 and 3 progress, but it’s important to have the visual aspects of your brand documented at the end of it all. Be as precise as you feel you need.
2. Business Cards and/or Flyers
When you meet people who are interested in what you offer, you need to be able to give them some kind of means to get in touch with you. Nothing does this better than a professional looking business card or flyer. Getting these materials designed and printed by professionals may seem like a great outlay, but generally produces the most professional results. If your business card is the only promotional material that someone is going to see, you want it to leave a good impression.
3. Have a Website
More and more people are looking online for all kinds of services, so it’s important to have at least a basic web presence. Those without a website and social media presence risk being overlooked online. Investing in a small, simple website stakes your claim on the web, and can always be built upon later down the line. Regardless of how modest your site is, it still needs to feature modern design, great copy, and persuasive calls to action; as well as all of your contact information in an obvious place. Remember that people are increasingly using mobile devices to access the web, and Google favours mobile-friendly sites, so it pays to invest in a site that’s mobile responsive.
4. Google Analytics Installed on Your Website
Google Analytics is an awesome free service that can be installed on your website to report back on how many people have visited, how long they spent on there as well as loads of other interesting data. When you apply for a Google Analytics account (which can be done through an existing Google account) you are given a unique code to include in your website code. Provide this code to whoever is building your website and all being well, Analytics will start recording.
5. Build a Database of Customers and Prospects
Collecting data and business cards from interested parties is all well and good, but you need to record that information in a centralised place for it to be of good use. It pays to record contact details, how you know each person and how close they are to a sale; you can do this by way of a simple spreadsheet, a database or a Customer Relationship Management (or “CRM”) program. Whichever method you choose, it should work as seamlessly as possible with your current ways of working. Transcribe your contacts into some kind of system and try a few things out. CRM tools are made especially for the purpose of recording prospects and customers and helping to nurture them through the sales process, so it may be worth checking out a few.
6. Create an online business listing
This is a small tip, and one that is often overlooked, but as far as online visibility is concerned, it’s a biggie. When you’ve searched for a business on Google in the past, you may have noticed that some businesses have a detailed listing that comes up on the right of the screen with an address, phone number, opening hours, ratings, and other useful info. That means that this business has a Google “My Business” listing – it’s free and very easy to set up. Simply visit the Google My Business page to get started; it will totally guide you through the process. You can use an existing Google account if you have one.
Also consider listing your business on Yell.com – it’s free! You’ll get your own listing page displaying your business contact details, photos of your products and work, as well as the option for customers to leave a review of your business. It’s well worth encouraging clients to leave a review for you on a neutral platform, as potential customers can get an accurate picture of your business from an unbiased third party. A listing on Yell.com also has high visibility in search engine results, so is definitely worth doing!
7. Research the Best Avenues for General Advertising
It’s important to do some market research before you start placing advertisements willy-nilly; you might end up advertising in the wrong place wasting time and money. You need to investigate your industry’s current market, and find your place within it. Market research is a potentially huge topic; I’ve written about it previously, so go and have a read!
8. Research the Best Avenues for Social Media
Always look into where your competitors and target audience are hanging out online. In order to get full access to any given social media platform, you usually have to create an account; my advice is to create a personal account on each platform that catches your eye. This way your company name isn’t associated with a handful of empty, unprofessional looking social media accounts you’ve just used for research. Use these accounts to search for industry related terms and see how much of a presence they have on each platform. Feel free to get involved with groups and conversations, it all goes towards the research into how good a fit your company is for each site. You may well find that there are some platforms that you personally “get on with” more than others, and some that you really struggle with. Consider your findings and experiences, and select the best ones to go forward with in your business persona.
9. Make Some Basic Marketing Plans
Writing a thorough marketing plan may seem like a daunting prospect, but it needn’t be a lengthy, dry document. By the time you’ve completed many of the other points here, You’ll most likely have a good idea of where, when and how to promote your business, so it may be well worth your time to plan out all of your marketing activities in some kind of calendar or year planner. It pays to have a time-based plan because you can see where important dates relating to your marketing fall, so you can plan ahead with ease.
10. Ongoing Analysis
It’s important to keep on top of market research and analysis. Just because you’ve completed it once, doesn’t mean that your audience isn’t going to change and adapt in potentially unexpected ways. Repeat the actions you did for points 7 and 8 every six months to a year; any changes may be minimal, but well worth knowing about so you can adapt and improve. Keep on top of Google Analytics and social media analysis so you know where your visits, likes and shares are coming from, and what’s working for you. Stick with the useful things and leave the less successful things behind.
New businesses – what is the most daunting thing about marketing yourselves? What part of getting your name out there are you most struggling with? Established businesses – what marketing issues did you struggle with in your formative years? What advice would you most like to pass on to a newbie? Please leave your comments down in the comments!
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