Marketing is one of the most important elements of any business plan. Not only is it crucial for growing new business, but it can help you build and nurture long-term business relationships with individuals who become loyal, life-long customers. Here are 5 basic principles that will help you market your business.
- Understand your customer by soliciting feedback on an ongoing basis. There are free resources such as Survey Monkey or Survey Methods you can use to send surveys. Use the feedback to identify improvement initiatives, to refine your messaging, and plan marketing activities. Be sure to also ask your customers how they heard about your business. This will help you determine how to best reach your target market.
- Understand your market and where you fit in. Research competitors to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses, and compare with your own. Develop and nurture your understanding of what you do better than your competitors.
- Subscribe to trade publications and keep current on industry trends. Develop relationships with the media whenever possible.
- Social media is one of the best and most efficient ways to communicate with customers, not to mention its FREE! Be involved with all platforms- Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc.
- Tailor your profiles to reflect your business and keep your profile and posts updated. Promote sales, local events you will be attending, and any other aspect of your company. Keep posts short and to the point. Your followers will be much more engaged with your posts if they are streamlined and transparent.
- Utilize smart hashtags to make your posts easily searchable. Hashtags are one of the most successful ways to beef up a post and pull in a larger audience.
- Respond to all messages in a timely manner and show your followers that you are engaged with their feedback.
People buy from companies and other people that they like, trust, and can rely on. Nail down a short list of customer-centric values that communicate what you want to do for your customers. These values are guiding principles such as quality, customer service, and salesmanship standards, that will be apparent in everything you do. The difference between a one-time-buy and a life-long customer may depend on a company’s core values and its ability to consistently adhere to these values.
- Each company has its own "personality." Your business' personality is your brand, which is communicated in a number of ways -- including your business logo, marketing materials, signage, and even the colors you use to decorate your shop. Be sure to identify and reinforce your brand by using consistent colors, fonts, and templates for various business communications. Create a company branding guide to help you remember. When a customer or a prospect picks up one of your brochures or visits your website, it should have the same look and feel as the business card you gave them 6 months ago.
- Develop messaging to help you clearly and consistently communicate benefits you offer to customers (whether you are answering the phone, going on a sales call or writing a brochure or email). This consistency also helps strengthen your brand and makes your business more memorable.
- Get your name out there by promoting your business at local events. Join your local Chamber and business associations, and become a committee member. Reinforce your brand by staying involved with your community.