The marketing landscape has changed quite a bit in the last few years, and the name of the game today is “online presence”. Not only that, but also you’ll need your customers to hear your message several times before they’re ready to click that buy button. But with so many different online options for reaching your customers – blogs, branding, social media, oh my! – it’s hard to know where to start. Let’s begin with these simple steps to help you get started marketing your small business:
1. Gather your thoughts. Getting an organized marketing plan is the first step in any marketing effort. Start with brainstorming an “elevator pitch”. How can you describe your business, services, and products in under 30 seconds in a way that would keep someone interested and wanting more? Ask existing customers for input, the earlier in the process the better – host a soft opening or invitation-only event. Whatever you do, make a good first impression.
To create an elevator pitch, ask yourself these questions.
2. Get a website. The very first thing a potential customer does is Google your business. Your website shows the world you’re real and provides those potential customers with valuable information about your business. Many of your customers will interact with your website on their smartphone, so make sure your website is mobile-friendly. There are lots of D.I.Y. website services out there, but depending on your business’s needs, you may want to leave it to the experts. You’ll hear the term “search engine optimization” thrown around a lot. This is your key to top positions on search engines, but I would be leery of anyone promising to skyrocket you to the top. Carefully research any developer you consider hiring.
3. Leverage social media. Let’s be real: for successful businesses these days, social media is crucial. If you are not yet using Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn for your business, start today. You are letting potential customers walk on by if you don’t. While Facebook still corners the market, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and several other outlets will all be invaluable resources to help promote your products and services.
4. “Claim” your business online. Many established business owners are surprised to find a variety of information about their business on the internet. You can proactively claim or create a listing for your business and control what people read or see when they search for your product or service. One common missed opportunity is your Google My Business listing. A large percent of small business owners don’t even know that they can manage their information or Google.
Above all, focus on consistent, repetitive branding. Marketing professionals have a golden rule: the “rule of seven,” which states that people need to hear or see your message at least seven times before taking any action. In today’s technology-driven world of constant connectivity, you must make sure your message is heard clearly and often by your potential customers. The right message to the right people sent often enough will result in more customers ready and willing to engage with your product or service.