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10 Marketing Tips for Small Businesses

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Keeping your marketing fresh is a constant challenge for business owners. It’s important that marketing is a long term strategy, every effort needs thought and planning if you want to get the best return. You marketing strategy should tie in with your overall business objectives and you should be able to articulate clearly what you are trying to achieve with your marketing. Here we outline 10 hot tips to get you on your way!

1. Followed the trend to connect your business with Facebook and not seeing the benefits? Help your business get more ‘likes’ and become more sociably noticeable; manage expectations, make time for it, learn as much as you can if you are DIY, start with a small budget and build on it, have conversations with your supporters and don’t spam!

2. Test your direct mail campaigns before you send it to your entire list. Even a modest campaign of a few thousand pieces can run up the budget with mailing and duplication costs. Always test mail a portion of your mailing list and check the results, 10% or at least 300 pieces is a good rule of thumb.

3. Be creative, try a marketing idea that no one has tried to make your business stand out from your competitors. If you are creating a direct mail piece, do something different that your competitors haven’t done before, and start with the envelope, think colours, textures or something really catchy that is going to get your piece noticed before it’s even opened!

4. Take advantage of your customers and reward them for their loyalty with the opportunity to purchase new products before the general public or offer discounts. Use them as publicity agents to tell their friends and family about your business and offer them incentives for every person they refer.

5. It takes someone a third of a second to decide whether they are going to open an email, three seconds to see if there is something of interest, and 30 seconds to respond to the ‘call to action’, If you are running an email marketing campaign, the important thing to remember is that you are establishing a relationship with the customer and educating them about your service/product.

6. If you need helpful tips on growing your business, but can’t afford the resources or the investment in specialised courses yet, assign time to learn and skill up by researching online. There are many online hubs and websites dedicated to entrepreneurs to help foster online communities and give you the support you need before your network is in place. An online forum with topics like “Social Media: do it yourself or pay an expert?” and “How to increase traffic to my website” will help you answer the tricky questions you can’t yet answer yourself.

7. Set goals for your business and for yourself, and do it properly. Make sure they are realistic and achievable and set yourself a time limit in which you wish to have achieved them in. Write them down and look at them at least once a day to ensure you are on track. You may be surprised how much more motivated the goals make you! Ensure you include the purpose of your goal (the big picture) and the action steps you need to do to achieve your goal, on an annual, monthly or weekly basis.

8. Use other businesses for joint promotions. Contact non-competing businesses who are serving customers in your market. Offer to publicise their product or service to your customers, in exchange for them publicizing your business to their customers. This will benefit both of you and create a good business relationship.

9. The top four questions you should ask yourself to successfully manage your business’s social networking sites are: What are my needs? What am I planning to use social media for? Whose attention am I trying to get? What platforms do I want to be involved in? Ensuring you have covered these essential elements will keep your business on track in the social networking world.

10. Marketing plans are a must! Having a marketing plan may seem like a waste of time and energy, however, it is the framework for how a company interacts with anyone, both inside and outside of the organisation. A well thought out marketing plan, if well executed, is invaluable to every company. Furthermore, a marketing plan is not a static document, it should be reviewed and updated as your business grows.

Article as seen in Aspire Magazine – 2014. Brianna Vidal is the Director of Affinity Marketing, a marketing and PR agency passionate about working with great people on great ideas.