The marketing landscape is being increasingly dominated by high-cost digital content marketing and native advertising. But for small businesses, often working on limited budgets, other creative avenues exist to raise brand awareness, advertise products and services, and generate new leads. A blend of traditional and cutting edge techniques can lead to effective marketing, without costing the earth. Small companies should be open to any and all forms of marketing and communication to bolster their business growth and stability. Just because a marketing budget may be modest, it doesn’t mean the outcome has to be. Let’s look at some marketing trends for the coming year, primarily with small businesses in mind.
At everyone’s fingertips, an array of social networking platforms have taken over how we interact with people, organizations and the wider world around us. For marketers, social media is a powerful tool – cheap to use (free to sign up for), the potential for highly tailored, personalized service and content, and the scope for generating a huge brand reach. Staying in touch with customers and potential customers has never been easier or more effective. Promote your brand on Twitter, answer customer questions and respond to feedback on Facebook, or roll out a brilliantly designed campaign on Instagram. There are countless platforms for sharing information and content – but remember, as most people interact on social media on their smartphone or tablet, you’ll have to optimize your campaign for mobile viewing.
It may seem decidedly old school but printed promotional material is still an extremely effective way to communicate with and engage customers and your potential client base. Whether you are placing your company literature into someone’s hand at a trade fair or business meeting or mailing it out to people’s homes, the impact of a well-designed leaflet or brochure will cement your brand into the mind of the recipient. And having a business card that really stands out is a sure-fire way to make a good first impression on a potential new customer. Digital marketing may be the dominant player in the marketing game, but there is still a big place for printed media. In fact, as the amount of mail we receive drops, the impact of a postal marketing message increases, adding value.
Fast becoming regarded as old school, email marketing is nonetheless still an effective and proven way to reach out and promote your brand. Email clients such as Gmail are free platforms that make email marketing simple, or for those who can afford it there are dedicated systems (Email Service Providers – ESPs) that can handle campaigns with delicate complexity. Combined with excellent copy, snappy subject lines, and great design, email marketing is the perfect way for small businesses to stay in touch with their customers, as well as being effective in appealing to new clients. It’s essential, however, to become an expert on the rules for email marketing – those receiving need to have opted in, amongst other things, and the use of data is now heavily moderated.
Its rare these days to find a business, however small, without its own website. Cheap to design and build, it can be as simple or as detailed as you like. A website can be as basic as a company logo, contact email address and some links to other resources (see social media section above – ideal to link to). Make sure you prominently display the website URL on any printed material, at the end of branded emails and across your social network – it should be easy to find and easy and compelling to read and look at.
What do we want, bottom line, for our business? Satisfied, happy customers who will give us repeat orders for our products and/or services. And what better way to utilize those customers than to ask them to rate our business? First-person testimony is a powerful tool in marketing – it reaches out directly to individuals, with all spin and hyperbole taken out of the equation. A happy customer will most likely respond to a request for feedback, so make sure you follow up and ask!
Small businesses don’t have to settle for a smaller impact when it comes to marketing. However, using all available channels to direct their campaigns will most likely lead to a more successful level of engagement and conversion.