Small Business Marketing – The Power of Web and Print
Small Business Marketing is a foundational aspect of business success. Even if you employ a professional to market your products, you can still do a lot yourself. Anything you do to get the word out about your business and its services or products could be the one thing that brings the perfect buyer. With so many options, which are the best small business marketing methods?
Here are a couple to consider:
The majority of businesses today do not have a website. This is amazing to me because having a website is vital to today's business. It is no longer an added benefit; it's necessary. The good news is it's not hard to get one made and make it good. But you should employ an experienced web designer to do it without you being skilled in web design and could do it on your own.
I repeat, SKILLED. Just because you can put a few words and pictures together for a page and make it live is not good enough. It needs to shine. In today's business world, most people's first contact with you will come through your website.
Think about it. If you want to learn about a company, where do you go? The county records office? No, you go online and type the name in. It's that simple. And believe it or not, the first time you see their name and the opening page of their site you are making multiple assumptions and conclusions about that person or business. Do they appear professional, or do they appear amateurish? Are they artistic, or are they dull? Is there a sense of organization here, or is it so confusing you have a hard time deciphering up from down and left from right?
The website must be clear, artistically designed, and comprehensive. The extra time and money put into this will make a difference. I have worked with one person in particular who has a great business website. Dozens of people have told him that they absolutely love the website and it was one of the ruling factors that led them to do business with his company. And these are people investing many thousands of dollars, involving high levels of trust. His experience with his website is a good illustration of the power of a professional, well designed site.
Your website is a platform to show people who you are, a short history how you came to be in the business, some photos of your work, possibly a story of a thrilled customer, and ways for customers to reach you. In addition, you can include a blog page on your site because fresh content, added to your blog as often as possible, will bring lots of traffic to your site. As a general rule, the more you add fresh, keyword-focused material to your blog, the more the search engines will like you up and send viewers to your site.
For your blog, you can add all sorts of product or service related things beneficial to your readers, which you hope are potential buyers of your products or services. You add a benefit to them by writing material that they will find informative and useful – they provide a benefit to you as potential customers and clients.
While some people claim print media is headed into oblivion, some of the top marketers in the nation think just the opposite. In fact, many of them consider print media to still be the most effective way to market a product. They refer to this as direct marketing; sending something to a select group of people with the hopes that they will want to purchase their product. Obviously, since you can not know if an individual you send a card or brochure to could even afford or want what you sell, direct marketing must be done in a specific way.
In most print marketing of your product, you do not go try to find the buyer … you let the buyer come to you. How to do this? Here are a few ideas:
1. Create postcards or fliers. On a card or trifold paper, write a captivating description of what you have to sell and add a photo or two. Make it really sing, and include all the benefits to entice potential readers to call you or come by your store.
Distribute these cards where you can, in places like laundromats, at apartment buildings, on car windows – only be careful not to break any soliciting or marketing laws. I have done this kind of marketing door to door in neighborhoods with great effect. You never know who may read it and discover your product is just what they were looking for. And even if the marketing does not sell that particular product, it may lead to another individual who buys something else.
2. Create classified ads.
Make them short and sweet and make it easy for readers to contact you, either by email or telephone. Place the ads in papers (both online and offline) that you know get good circulation and have the type of readers that fit your demographic model.
3. Write direct marketing letters.
These letters will go to a specific type of buyer: the one you know is looking or could be looking for your product or service. Once you know who they are and what they are looking for, write a professional looking letter, addressed specifically to them. You want to include a very brief introduction on yourself, a short paragraph telling them your name and what you do, and then get right to telling them about the benefits of the product you are selling.
Focus on the benefits ; sell them the package. Make sure there is ample contact information for them to get back to you. If they are interested, they will contact you back and at that time can learn all they want about your background and experience. The important thing is to resist the temptation to carry on and on about you or your company. The truth is, people do not really care. They care about what the product or service will do for them. Focus on that.
If you put some effort into your small business marketing, you will reap substantive rewards for it. No business survives without marketing, but ALL businesses benefit from it.