Effective marketing doesn't need to be expensive. Discover how to use available resources to promote and grow your business on a tight budget.
The most important principle to understand when it comes to marketing your business is that your strategy must be practical and sustainable. Large companies can afford to throw millions of dollars on advertising, but that's not the case for start-ups and small businesses. So unless you have money to burn, you're better off establishing a sustainable marketing strategy that compliments your lifestyle.
Don't make the common mistake of separating your work from your social life. We all need to work to make a living and earning a profit is not evil, immoral or shameful. Reject the stigma our society places on being successful, and resolve in your mind that being in business is noble, moral, worthy when done honestly. Only then can you begin to be successful by employing the following three approaches on how to market your business.
1. Leverage Your Relationships
It's been estimated that the average American knows about 600 people, and can comfortably sustain 150 stable relationships. If you know only 200 people and they in turn know only 200 people, that's still 40,000 potential contacts! Invest time developing relationships with the people you already know like clients, colleagues, friends and even family. Remember, you should never shy away from the fact that you're in business when it's done correctly. Too often, most of the people we know don't really know what we do for a living.
When you're confident in your business and comfortable with your practices, leveraging personal relationships can generate significant leads. To get started, make a list of all the people you know whether they are close friends or distant acquaintances. The idea is to get as many people down on paper as possible, and listing everyone helps you to think of more people. Now that you have a list, prioritize the names using A's, B's, and C's. Mark the people who believe in you and will confidently support you as A's. These people are your advocates, and would refer business to you immediately and without hesitation. A's make up your primary target group and should result in quick leads.
Mark the next closest group of people to you as B's. These people have the potential to become A's if they knew more about you and what you do. Developing this group will become your top priority. Invest some time with people in this group and educate them. The best way to build a relationship is to do something for a person. Always makes deposits before asking for withdrawals.
Finally, mark people you know and are familiar with but don't communicate with often enough as C's. This group has some potential but will require more time and effort than B's before they refer business to you. Focus on the A's and B's first, and then select a few promising C's to nurture into B's. Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram provide a convenient avenue to catch up with old friends. With that said, don't feel like everyone on your list must fall into one of these categories. It's perfectly okay to remove people from the list that don't qualify at least as C's.
When building your relationships remember the golden rule, and treat others the way you want to be treated. Nobody likes spam or overzealous salesmen, so don't just try to sell to your network. Educate them on who you are and what you do, but focus on ways you can be a resource to them. Trust and credibility develops over time, but by giving more than you ask for in return will greatly expedite the process and allow your network to become your most valuable marketing tool.
2. Expand Your Network
Expanding your network can be as simple as living your normal life with just a little added strategy. Be sure to employ the same principles and techniques used to leverage your personal relationships when expanding your network. The key is to make sure that everyone you meet know who you are and what you do. Always have business cards on hand. You should never walk away from a handshake without handing out a business card. Similarly, get some business cards printed with a discount or promotion on them, and hand those out and leave them everywhere. Don't forget that Accolades provides premiere graphic design and economical printing prices for business cards.
Now you just need to find more people to befriend. Please notice the use of the word “befriend” instead of say, “engage” or “enlist.” People know when you're motives are not sincere. Contrary to popular opinion, joining a business networking group is not the best way to expand your network. Those groups tend to be full of self-interested people trying to get quick leads, and as a result, offer little in the way of quality. A better approach is to find opportunities to become friendly with many people.
Look to civic groups or hobby clubs where you can connect with people based on shared values and interests. These settings allow you to build relationally with others in an environment that doesn't reek of self-interest. Regular involvement in these types of organizations provides plenty of opportunities to build quality friendships that are based on more than just business interests. These friendships can quickly become A's on your list of relationships. When you make new friends for the sheer joy of forming and maintaining those relationships, your business can benefit as a byproduct of those friendships.
3. Master Email Marketing
With a strong network in place comes the need to keep in contact with them. Email marketing provides one avenue through which you can manage frequent communication with your network in an economical and measurable way. Use it for newsletters, promotions, new product or service announcements, or to offer resources and tips. As with any marketing effort, be sure to develop a plan with your target audience in mind, and draft an appropriate message while retaining your particular branding. Know your objectives before your start, and make sure whatever you provide is of value to your market. Don't be viewed as a “spammer”!
Effective email marketing consists of capturing emails, organizing your customer base into relevant groups, and then providing value to each respective group. There's many ways to accomplish these priorities, but as with most things, the simpler the better. Too often, the hassle of managing a contact list, tracking email campaigns, and evaluating the overall effectiveness of these campaigns proves to be too much for most people if everything is scattered across multiple locations and applications. The key is to find a system that works for you.
Through our SmartSites, Accolades provides an all-in-one solution to capture leads, manage customers and campaigns, and measure success beyond just click-throughs. Contact us to see if one of our packages is right for you. Other email marketing options include services like Constant Contact and MailChimp. So whatever system you use, be sure to stick to your plan and be consistent.