12 Small Business Marketing Tips That AREN’T Social Media
1. Printed Postcards.
Print out a fun, funny, or otherwise engaging postcard that doubles as an advertisement and use it as a mail out to prospective clients. Something of this nature is far more likely to reach customers then a standard advertising mail out. It is also more likely to be passed around and hung on to.
EXAMPLE: I spoke with one client who used this to great success in her market area. The postcards were so successful in engagement, that during one cold call, she noticed one of them hanging from the company fridge.
The Why: The success of a post card can be traced to its content. It consists primarily of an image and only the necessary text. Our society is increasingly image driven, with brief attention spans. The image compounds on our natural tendency to be drawn to imagery and the brief text is enough to present a quick brand statement, without losing them.
The postcard mail-out is not meant to make the sale, it is meant to generate the lead by drawing traffic to you and your website.
BONUS: Postcard’s are extremely budget friendly and dollar for dollar have one of the highest advertising impacts.
2. Variety Works! So Don’t Be A One Trick Pony.
While relying on the same tried and tested techniques is not a bad thing, variety substantially increases advertising & marketing impact. Try varying your approach and rotate your tactics. Consider these points:
- Customers, have a short attention span. Changing your approach will ensure that they don’t become numb to your efforts.
- Customers want to matter. When they see that they are worth an effort, and not just a “programmed mass mail-out” they feel important, and that in turn means they are engaged.
- Repeating the same thing over and over, breaks several key marketing rules (and besides, it is lame). You get bored and so do your customers.
- Marketing & Advertising are all about showcasing your business and ingenuity. Clever advertising creates business / brand visibility and positions you as a stand-out to your customers.
The Why: Utilizing different tactics is one way to ensure that you are memorable and that is what leads to sales. Give your customers a reason to remember you, keep the content and the approach fresh.
There are literally thousands of different ways to reach your clients, however not every technique will be suitable for your customer base. Explore, try new things and have fun, but remember to do your homework and use the methods that make the most sense.
3. Partner Up.
Let’s face it, when it comes to small businesses, we are all in this together. We ourselves have had great success in establishing promotional partnerships with other small businesses spanning all manner of industries.
EXAMPLE: A great example occurred recently. We ran a summer promotion offering to build a “custom website” for the winner.
The winner of the promotion approached us to ask if we would like to team up to offer the website prize to a local auction. This customer had access to this auction, where we did not and all they asked in return was that they get secondary billing as a contributor.
What began as a individual promotion on the part of our business, became a partnered promotion to over 500 bit ticket clients! Our business and theirs got some great visibility as a result and everyone came out a winner.
Opportunities to partner on promotions abound and are only limited by your creativity.
The Why: Partnerships can greatly reduce costs, increase impacted audiences and breed goodwill. It increases your exposure and the likelihood of word of mouth referrals by your partners. Each time you can build better relationships between your business and others you are providing the best kind of marketing there is.
4. Improve Their Day Over The Phone.
It sounds too simple, but first impressions are indeed everything. When you pick up the phone, remember that your tone and your words are going to be what your are immediately measured by. If it is a new or potential client, this is especially important.
Don’t be syrupy, but be happy. If you answer the phone sounding stressed or grumpy, people will take it personally. They do not want to feel like they are inconveniencing you with their call, and they should never have to. Remember this: Every phone conversation is a direct representation of your brand.
No one wants to deal with grouchy people, we all have enough of that in a day. Give them a reason to perk up, even if it simply your tone of voice.
EXAMPLE: Our rule of thumb at Transition Marketing Services is “Make ‘em feel like a million bucks”. It doesn’t matter how your day is going, enter each telephone conversation with the single intent of improving the day of the individual on the other end.
The Why: People need to feel valued. It is wired into us all. This is all too true with customers. We all want to feel that our business is important to a brand – and no matter how small that business may be, it should ALWAYS be treated as such. If you give them a good moment, experience and memory, that will stick with them – especially if they have already had a bad day. Making your business accessible and friendly will always generate leads.
5. Change-up Your Go-To Greeting.
When answering the phone, do not be afraid to change up your standard greeting. The opening statement on the phone can easily be used to quickly promo a special offer, or to announce a quick piece of news.
- “Good morning this is Ben, ask me about 2 for 1 print designs”
- “Good Afternoon, TMS, your recent Okanagan Life Magazine winner!”
Try it out. Many businesses have an auto-attendant that plays pre-programmed promotional propaganda to customers on hold, very few have a live one!
The Why: A quick statement like this is a good way to generate further dialogue and to engage your customers. It can provide a segway into discussing your services, products or achievements – without forcing it into the conversation.
6. Stickers Are Our Friends.
I LOVE STICKERS! 30 years old and my laptop still looks like a skateboard deck. Stickers are a great, inexpensive means of semi-permanently branding things. Of course stickers take many different forms.
- Brand Stickers: There are always uses for groovy stickers. Create a fun or slick looking sticker that your customers may actually WANT to put on something.
- Stamps / Envelope Stickers: Mailing something out? Turn the envelope into a promo as well. Every piece of direct or business mail, provides an opportunity to promote your brand and business. If you cannot afford custom printed envelopes, stickers and stamps can be a great alternative.
As with most other advertising efforts, keep the stickers clean, sharp and to the point. They are stickers, not encyclopedias. Rule of thumb: If the sticker takes more than 5 seconds to read – too much!
The Why: Quite simply stickers are inexpensive and convert just about anything to a billboard for your business. The more your logo, brand name and/or image is displayed, the more brand awareness is generated.
7. Custom Stationary – Inexpensive Branding
In the same family of thought as stickers. Printing your logo and brand philosophy on all of your stationary ensures repeat brand exposure to anyone receiving written communications from you.
Repeat sales are over 75% cheaper to drive home then sales to new customers. Newsletters (printed or emailed) are a great way to focus specific marketing on your existing customer base. Build a list of customers and their contact info, by offering a service, deal or insider info to those willing to subscribe.
Newsletters do not need to be a weekly thing. You can keep costs down by making it monthly or even quarterly – depending on your industry and market targets etc. E-newsletters (emailed newsletters) are often be less expensive, although they are less likely to be opened.
EXAMPLE: One of our staff operated a weekly newsletter for five years for an industrial manufacturer. The newsletter garnered quite the following, and was used as a direct line to the existing customer base. It was used to highlight new products, company achievements and other information used to drive engagement and generate leads. By the time is came to a close, customers were contributing information to the newsletter – a sure sign of engagement.
The Why: Newsletters are a direct line to your customers. This provides a door for direct communications on offers, promotions and other information relevant to driving sales. Keep in mind that a newsletters success is only as good as its content. If you want it to be opened and followed up on, you need to provide a reason and establish a reputation with the recipients.
Anytime you can draw customers to you and gain that one on one face time, you are generating brand awareness for your company. Time spent in face to face communications is worth 100 x the time spent in emailing, telephone or online. There are a number of ways to generate this exposure, that do not involve the cold call.
Host an event, a seminar or an open house. Give your customer base a good reason to come to you. Done properly events can garner strong turnouts and generate great media coverage. Remember that the event must appeal to your targets. Do not make the event about preaching your brand, but rather about giving to your customers. Create the event around your brand, but make it a goal to add value to the attendees.
If you are offering a seminar never make it free. People see “free” attached to a seminar and they are immediately suspicious. “Free”, whether true or not, indicates that there is no value to be had or that there will be a string attached. Add a price tag for admission, make it reasonable, but make sure your seminar carries value.
EXAMPLE: We will offer a seminar on “Generating Sales Leads for Small Business Through Online Content”. This is a highly specific topic, but extremely valuable to many of our clients and targets. By offering this seminar, we are giving our targets something of value to them (equipping them for success), while also positioning our brand as a leader in the industry and generating face time with potential leads.
The Why: Events draw customers out to you. They provide an opportunity to directly engage them on grounds of your choosing, as opposed to the dreaded “cold call” which places you on THEIR territory. When hosting an event you are seen as in charge and it creates a less intimidating field to engage on. When you provide something of value to your customers, they will come to you and that is a good place to be.
10. Exchanging Services.
First off. NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE WORTH OF YOUR GOODS & SERVICES. Having said that, working out deals to exchange product for advertising space, or for necessary items is not a terrible idea.
The caution here is not to underestimate the value of your products or your potential partners. You do not want to low-ball a potential partner and risk insulting them, however you also do not want to come out of the deal with less than you put in.
The Why: Exchanges of this nature can be useful for cutting costs and staying on budget, however approach with care.
11. Quick, Follow Up Offers To Recent Customers.
One of my personal favorites. Taking the time to send a quick note, email etc. to a recent customer, with a special offer available only to them, is a great way to increase your B2C relationships and drive repeat sales.
EXAMPLE: A customer has recently purchased one of your products. Follow up with them, thank them for their recent business and offer them an additional discount off of their next purchase. You can provide them with a code, or coupon which they can redeem – Remember that to drive the sales urgency, you should always include an expiry date.
The Why: People love deals. They also love being appreciated. By offering a follow up coupon JUST TO THEM as a reward for their business, you are giving them both – A deal and direct appreciation. The key here is that it is DIRECT in contrast to say a “Customer Appreciation Sale” which does not shine the spotlight on the individual customer. By adding an expiry date, you are creating that sense of urgency and driving the sale home. It lessens the chance that they will forget or lose the coupon and it protects your business from having to honor it at an inconvenient time.
Sending out mail? You are already paying the postage, so put that money to work. Include a flyer, advertisement, business card or promotion with your mail-outs. As with stickers and stationary, repeat brand exposure is always a good thing.
There are a number of ways to promote a business or brand. Many are surprisingly cost effective and can be customized to suit any size and budget.
For a any business or brand to succeed, marketing is required. Which marketing makes the most sense for you?
Transition Marketing Services. Our passion is educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how were doing or if you have any questions. TRANSITION MARKETING SERVICES – Small Business Marketing & Branding Specialists.