Do you stop marketing when sales speed up? It’s a common mistake small business owners make when orders are rolling in. One second business is booming, and then a few slow months leave you scrambling for new customers.
Marketing gets put on the back burner for a lot of reasons.
- You don’t have a huge marketing budget like the big businesses.
- You don’t know what local marketing options are available.
- You don’t feel confident when talking about your business.
- You don’t know the best ways to promote your business locally.
- You don’t know how to measure the impact of your efforts.
Relax. Marketing doesn’t have to be scary, and you can easily tailor it to your budget and comfort level. And you have something big businesses don’t. Familiarity. Big companies spend a lot of time and money trying to create a relatable brand. As a small business owner, you put a face and personality to your products and services. So, think of local marketing as a way for your community to get to know you. Here are easy ways to get started.
1. Join a Chamber of Commerce
Every major city and many small towns have a Chamber of Commerce. Most offer monthly networking events where you can pitch your services and trade referrals. As soon as you join, Chambers typically publish a profile to spread the word about your business. You can also use exclusive member ads or sponsor a Chamber event to promote your business in your area.
More importantly, many people contact Chambers for a list of recommended business. A study by the Shapiro Group, Inc. and Market Street Services showed customers are 44 percent more likely to buy from Chamber of Commerce members.
Chambers build relationships between people invested in local commerce. Get to know business owners in related industries who aren’t your competitors. Let’s say you own a hardware store. Try partnering with a local plumber, contractor, or mechanic to cross-promote services. You can join more than one Chamber to grow your network.
2. Improve your website keywords
Even when shopping locally, customers often do an online search for ideas and reviews. Yet, many business owners build a website without understanding how search engines work. You might be stumped, wondering why your site doesn’t attract as much traffic as you expected.
The good thing is a few small changes to website text can boost your rankings on search engines. Simply add locations to your keywords. Imagine someone searching for “art store” or “art supplies.” You would have to compete with millions of sellers around the country. Add location tags, such as “Memphis art supplies,” and your competition drastically shrinks.
3. Offer referral rewards
Give loyal customers a reason to keep saying good things about you. Offer a discounted product or service for bringing you new business. Word-of-mouth marketing is priceless. Customers trust friends and family to make good recommendations. Not to mention, even one person with a big network can have a huge impact on your business.
4. Build an email list
Everyone is busy these days. Customers may love your products, but they have short attention spans. If you don’t stay in contact, people move on to more engaging companies. That’s why it’s a good idea to ask customers to subscribe to an email list.
Sending an email is a fast way to let customers know about new products or deals. You can also spotlight your involvement in community events or include a case study. Sharing brief stories about top clients shows you care about more than money. You know how to solve key problems for your customers and care about their satisfaction.
5. Ask for online reviews
Make sure your business leaves a good impression on people researching you online. Set up accounts on popular review sites, such as Yelp, and ask loyal customers to write about you. Customers who rave about your products in person don’t always go the extra mile to spread the word. Most of the time, asking is enough to motivate customers to write a glowing review.
Going forward, you should encourage new customers to do the same. Asking for a review right after a purchase keeps the experience fresh in their minds. If any of your customers have a large following on review sites, their praise can send lots of business your way.
6. Host a class or demo
In general, modern shoppers are more resistant to aggressive marketing. Sometimes, it’s more profitable to give without expecting anything back. This is even more true if you make high-ticket products that take more effort to sell.
Talk to your customers about common obstacles or questions they have. If you sell tools, clients might have questions about the best way to clean gutters or put up shelves. Customers might ask a craft seller how to work with certain materials or fix sewing mistakes. Whatever you know, use it to build trust with customers.
Focus on how you can help others with a short class demonstrating how to solve a problem. At the same time, you get a chance to show your expertise and showcase specific products. Create a clear call to action for customers who attend. Set up a display with all the products used in the demo, and talk more about your business one on one whenever you can. Oh, and don’t forget to get email addresses.
Be creative with your marketing
Local marketing should reflect your distinct personality and business values. Have fun with it. People can tell when you don’t like what you’re doing. And vice versa. Your excitement about helping customers shines through when you’re motivated and enthusiastic. Find creative ways to get your message across.
Newspaper ads might work for one business, while handing out flyers might be better for another. As an added bonus, many methods you use to promote your business locally can be repurposed for an online audience. That means twice the impact at minimal cost.
> Do you have the right tools to promote your business? Take a look at some of our promotional products, like t-shirts, pens, and banners. And don’t forget a great business website to build your online presence!