You have your own business for several reasons. You have a great product(s) or service(s); you love being our own boss; you are willing to take risks to build your business and to invest as much time and energy as it takes to spread your brand and build your customer base. Obviously, you cannot just open your door and/or your website and expect customers to magically appear. You have to have an advertising and marketing campaign that reaches out in all directions and through all venues. What follows is a plethora of ideas, some old, some newer, that may apply to a variety of entrepreneurs, dependent upon whether they have a brick and mortar business, a brick and mortar business supported with a web presence, or an Internet-only business. Pick and choose those that look like good strategies for you.
As you review these marketing tools, think about what types of advertising appeal to you. Which techniques are effective in drawing you in? Chances are those that motivate you will also motivate your potential customers.
Your design and content will either keep visitors navigating or turn them off pretty quickly. Getting a visitor to your site is the result of other marketing tools; keeping them there and converting them to actual customers is something else entirely. Don’t lose visitors because of a poor design or experience. A few tips might help you review your site and make some important changes.
1. Do not overload your pages with content and media. Have more pages rather than more content on each page. No one likes to be bombarded.
2. Use media strategically. Animations and banners can be fun and effective; a short video done well can be highly engaging. But, again, overuse is a killer.
3. Use infographics instead of words whenever possible.
4. Build some human interest. Tell your company’s story – people like stories.
5. Always have a method to gain visitor information. Offer something for free, delivered directly to a customer’s inbox. Offer some intriguing informational content through a newsletter subscription.
6. You must have a business blog, and if you are uncomfortable setting up your own, then get an expert to construct and maintain it. You must have something other than products and services for sale on your site. A great blog, connected to other places all over the web and that allows conversations among readers, will bring in traffic. Every post must give information, should have a visual, should entertain and include human interest and humor when appropriate.
Your Social Media Presence
Every social media site is an opportunity for marketing, and taking advantage of them all is absolutely critical.
1. Your presence on LinkedIn and continual monitoring of groups being formed in which you should have a presence is pretty important. This is a huge networking marketplace and relationships you form here can result in actual customers.
2. Your Facebook account should be stellar! Use video, use more visual content, share lots of content and ask readers to share your content. Post tips, “how-to’s,” surveys, customer stories and testimonials, checklists, infographics. Keep that page active and relevant. Provide a “teaser” to a blog post with a link to your site, and make sure that the post contains valuable information for the reader. One visit to your blog that excites a reader means the reader will return.
3. Pinterest: Many content marketers predict that Pinterest will be the new Google for searches. In often, using specific keywords that potential customers will use to search. And if you place your presence on Pinterest, you must in every day, maybe as much as 10 times a day. Ask visitors to your site and your blog to share your content on Pinterest, and have a button for them to do that.
Unless you are a multi-million dollar corporation appealing to and middle-aged and older population, television advertising is not for you. It is horribly expensive, and viewers under middle-age are muting commercials and using live-stream venues. Your little ad will be money wasted.
There is still benefit in radio advertising because two strategies can be utilized. First, you can target your market by the stations you use. If your target market is high school and college-aged young people, you will advertise on those stations that play their music. If your target is older, “oldies” music and news talk shows, especially during rush hour are the places to be.
Yes, these can be effective, but understand that the response to them is less than 1%, so you will have to determine how many you must put in mailboxes, in local ad packets, and on front doors to really make a difference. Hiring people to go door-to-door increases the percentage just a bit, but overall these campaigns are not extremely successful.
Joining local business networking organizations and perhaps the Chamber of Commerce is probably worth the effort and expense. Here, you will get your “name” out there, increase your brand awareness and get referrals from business owners.
Out-of-the-Box Thinking and Tools
Many entrepreneurs focus on having “captive” audiences for their advertising. Where do you find such an audience? Well, some creative thinkers have decided that there are quite strategic places for good-sized ads – in elevators, on the back rest of child seats of grocery carts, and, of all places, in bathrooms, on the walls above urinals and on the backs of stall doors. These are actually quite reasonable and can also be placed strategically. If your product or service is one that appeals to younger people, then bathrooms in restaurants, bars, concert venues are perfect spots. If, on the other hand, you wish to appeal to an older but active target group, elevators in casinos would be perfect. If your town does not have an indoor advertising company, find a partner and start one!