Marketing can be incredibly expensive. In fact, for many startups, after initial investment and any payroll obligations, marketing campaigns can easily be the most expensive part of your business. If you’re a rookie entrepreneur (even if you’re a veteran entrepreneur), you may feel enticed to blast news and advertisements about your new company and its products through every marketing channel you can, across every demographic available. And, when someone asks you why you’re advertising so broadly — citing concepts like marketing segmentation, customer profiles, and Cost of Conversion (CoC) — you might be inclined to respond with, “It’s okay; we’re building brand awareness.”
If this is you, I’m sorry to tell you but the term “building awareness” wasn’t meant to be the catch-all justification of wasteful marketing spending. A brand awareness strategy has just as many tactical elements as any marketing segmentation strategy.
Focus. Then Shoot.
There are so many ways to get out news about your new business these days that, instead of picking the best fit for your product or service, choosing “all of the above” can sure makes things easier. Unfortunately, it can also really make things expensive!
If you’re trying to convert potential customers into actual customers using the fewest marketing dollars possible, then you should be focusing on building a profile of who your customer is, where they shop, what motivates them, what marketing channels reach them, and when they consume media you can advertise in. The more of these questions you can answer, the more precise you can be with your advertising, and the fewer advertising mediums where you’ll need to purchase ad space. Sure, expenses of a business include marketing and advertising, but why spray marketing money all over creation when you can spend it to reach your best potential customers. You might also consider the Chamber of Commerce membership benefits for small business. Locally targeted marketing opportunities and resources are a great way to increase your reach without breaking the bank.
Building Brand Awareness Makes Cents
Awareness building is a natural byproduct of many advertising campaigns, but it can also be something you strategically leverage. An example of this is advertising before your prime selling season comes up. For example, a tax preparation company might ramp up marketing in the months leading up to tax season.
If the tax preparer waits until February to start advertising, many potential customers won't know who they are, or may have already begun the filing process with another company. By advertising in advance, you'll ensure that you're a familiar name when employers begin issuing income statements in mid-to-late January. It’s the old “hey, I know them, I should try that” technique.
Consultants and agencies know to that you need to properly position yourself before launching any campaigns for building your business. Simply put, when you build brand awareness before a more segmented and focused marketing campaign, you can increase that campaign’s efficacy.
Don’t Forget About PR
One of the best ways to get nearly free advertising — advertising which is both an effective form of awareness-building and conversion — is to invest in public relations efforts.
Not every reporter is going to find your business as fascinating and cutting edge as you do, so spamming them to take notice and validate your arrival is a serious misstep as it not only relegates your requests to a trash can but it relegates you to a block list.
To have success in the PR game, think about the reporter you’re pitching, what they cover, and who their readership is. When you pitch, don’t tell them the things you find unique and interesting things about your company; tell them what is interesting and relevant in relation to the topics they cover. Support your claims with numbers and examples and, if possible, supply multiple angles that make your news more engaging. The more interesting and appealing you can make your company to a reporter’s readership, the more relevant your company will be to that reporter.
If your first pitch gets no response, that’s not a reason to stop pitching. Members of the media wake up to boxes stuffed with pitches like yours every day. Your pitch may be excellent, but, the sheer volume of demand, especially for more prominent members of the media means there will be more rejects and silence than success. Even so, stay persistent! PR is advertising, building your brand, and an endorsement all rolled into one. And for the price—typically free—it’s worth it.
Translate your strategy into a scheduled plan using an editorial calendar. This may include your goals for various channels, how often you will be posting and at what times, the type of content to be shared, messaging, and metrics. Planning ahead will help organize your promotional schedule across multiple networks. Tracking audience engagement will give you an idea of the best days and times to post for your particular audience. While having a calendar will provide structure and deadlines, you also want to post spontaneously when it’s warranted, such as a relevant, breaking news story or commentary on a retweet. You can also use your calendar to archive your most successful content, and then reuse it later if it’s evergreen.
Here are some tips for planning content on specific social media networks:
Before diving into the complex world of social media, you need a solid strategy to make sure your time is well spent and your social presence is effective. Creating a social media strategy will set you up for a clear action plan with objectives that are in alignment with your business goals. Determining measurable goals allows you to define clear tactics for your social media plan and to track progress by evaluating metrics.
As with any marketing plan, you need to identify your target audience, which can include existing and potential customers. Knowing your audience will help you determine what social media channels and types of content are most appropriate for your business. You can also get a sense of your audience by evaluating which of your social profiles are receiving the most traffic. If your audience has various subsets, depending on the business, products, or services you are promoting, it might also be beneficial to have multiple profiles on some social networks. Check the guidelines of different networks to find out their limits or requirements.
Analyzing your competitors’ social media presence can also inform your strategy. Research how many followers your competitors have on various networks to get an idea of where your target audience might be most active. You can also see what responses competitors are getting for different types of content to learn which tactics might be most successful.
Now that you’ve got your audience and social networks figured out, what are you going to share? You’ll need to determine your key messaging that both fits with your brand and distinguishes you from competitors. Keep this messaging in mind as you create social media profiles that reflect your brand, and make sure your profile images are sized appropriately for each network. Profile images offer customers a first impression of your business and should be consistent with your brand. Once you’re clear on brand messaging, you can narrow your focus to planning specific content. This may include campaigns around product launches or events, but nobody wants to be overwhelmed with promotional content - so make sure you are offering your audience real value and that you have a balance between promotional and other content. You also want a variety of content, including images and video, and to post regularly. The key word in social media is “social,” so create an engaging presence by encouraging conversation, replying to comments, and providing quality customer service.
If all this sounds like a lot of work, remember that you don’t have to create all original content. You can use curated content by watching for and sharing content that fits with your messaging and topics. Keep a log of curated content so that you have inspiration to choose from. You can also share the same content on different networks, but avoid too much redundancy by modifying the content slightly. Remember that you want to offer a variety of content, both in format and messaging. Different posts will have different goals, whether it’s to generate sales leads or direct traffic to your blog. Creating a publishing schedule will help ensure that you have a balanced mix of content across networks.
1. Specialize Your Services to Focus on a Smaller Market
If you aren't getting enough clients, you might be casting your marketing net too wide. Narrowing your focus removes the pressure of having to "be everywhere." It lets you hone in on exactly where your ideal clients are and build a reputation as an expert in your niche. This makes all of your other marketing efforts more effective.
How to Specialize
Start by asking yourself these questions:
2. Revamp Your Content Strategy
Content is king, I'm sure you already know the importance of getting great information out and feel the pressure to deliver. But is your work paying off?Could you get more leads and top quality clients out of your content investment?
How to Revamp your Content Strategy
What if you took the same resources you put into content now and just changed the variables? You could:
3. Repurpose Your Existing Content
You can leverage your existing content to get more leads and clients. Repackaging your content into different formats allows you to reach new prospects across multiple media channels.
How to Repurpose Content:
4.Connect with Industry Influencers
There are a handful of influencers in your industry that stand out in people’s minds. They’re the ones with hundreds of thousands of website hits, articles with hundreds of comments, and faces you recognize. Connect with them in the right way, and you’ll enjoy a huge influx of new leads and top quality clients.
The Right Way to Connect With Influencers
The best way to stand out is to use the resources you have to help influencers gain even more influence. For every influencer you want to connect with, ask yourself: “how can I help this person? What can I do to make them even more successful?” It could be something small, like sharing an article they’d find useful. Or offering to introduce them to someone you know who can help them in some way.
5. Bundle Your Services into Packages
You can probably help prospective clients in many different ways. This is great, but it also creates a risk of paralyzing your leads. Offering too many choices confuses people and can keep them from becoming your clients. Convert More Leads With Service Packages An easy tactic to convert more leads into clients is to bundle your services into packages. 15-20 different service options is overwhelming, but not if they’re bundled into 3 or 4 packages. Another benefit: clients are also more willing to approve your fees
Here’s how you can bundle your services:
6. Drop Your Homepage Image Slider Image sliders may look nice, but they won't convert your website visitors to paying customers. Since the images moves, a user will automatically assume that they might be banner ads and will likely ignore them . Additionally, sliding images control the viewing experience. Users don't get to choose what they read or when they read it. this can frustrate them and lead to them missing valuable information.
What to do instead: Replace it with a static image and offer a simple explanation of your services.
In today's digital era, it has become an absolute must to have a measurable online presence. Here are some proven and tested SEO tips:
1. Informative content and updated website
It is very important for you to maintain your business website. Informative content and an updated website are vital to your success.
2. Update your business listing on various local listing websites
You have to ensure consistency and availability of your business's listing information on various websites if you want to have a measurable ranking.
3. Create a strong link strategy
Create a strong link strategy by linking your websites to other websites, this will help you to build an authentic image. But, don't link to unrelated websites as it can have a negative effect.
4. Ask for reviews & respond to customer inquiries & complaints promptly.
Reverting to your customer's reviews is a good move. Whether the review is positive or negative, revert with a satisfactory reply. Reviews play a major role in building a brand value of your business.
5. Be connected to your customers via social media
Social media is the best and easiest mode of communication to stay connected to your customers. Regularly update your social media pages to improve your search engine rankings. Attract more followers using high quality content.
6. Media coverage
Getting media coverage from a credible news channel or website will create a long-term and positive impact. It will provide you the level of branding, necessary to establish a business. Connect to the local media or blogging websites and invite them to try your services- it will encourage them to write positive reviews about your business and rate your services. You can send them Press Releases of events conducted by you or you can also invite them to the launch of a new product / service.
1. Prioritize and only do what matters. Avoid busy work and going in all directions. Say no to stuff that won’t move you towards your goals.
2. When everything is important, nothing is important. Establish a language of P1, P2, P3 -- levels of priorities. You only do some P1s in practice. Relentlessly prioritize.
3. Refuse to accept vague goals. Distill to clarity, then execute.
4. Never add new tasks in front of the queue, add them to the bottom. Complete what you are doing first.
5. Create and manage your schedule in a calendar. Use time blocks for different types of calls, meetings, heads-down work and even email, family time and workouts.
6. If it's not on the calendar, don’t do it. Don’t assume that you will be working on something unless it is on your calendar.
7. Tweak how much time you spend on what. Find the combination that works for you.
8.Regular exercise is highly recommended. Block off exercise times on your calendar, or it won’t happen.
9. Review each week ahead of time on Sunday so that you are prepared.
10. Don’t use chat clients or text messaging -- they are a big productivity killer because they disrupt your flow. Be respectful of your own time and team’s time overall.
11. Cut down on unplanned team meetings. It's OK to pull people into the conference room to brainstorm, but just make it clear this is what you are doing. Don't turn these sessions into long meetings.
12. Set a time expectation and limit for all team meetings. Typically, one hour meetings are the max. Thirty minutes is way better, unless it's a long brainstorming session, but even then, break it into chunks.
13. Be respectful of other team member’s productivity -- don’t throw in tasks on top of their queues. This sometimes happens with CEOs, who tend to ask people to just do something quickly for them. A sequence of the quick things becomes very hectic and disruptive to the team members' workflow.
14. Take care of yourself. Take breaks during the day and take time off to rejuvenate.
15. Make sure you get enough sleep (less than usual but enough). Watch out for signs of exhaustion.
1. Form an alliance. Team up with another business that offers a complementary product or service and cross promote. Examples of this could be: if you’re a yoga practitioner, align with a nutritionist; if you’re a social media marketer, align with a SEO pro. It may take some testing out to find the perfect fit, but this strategy is a good one for expanding your network, so keep at it.
2. Sell something new. Offer something different that appeals to a whole new audience. This is the oldest strategy in business history. Diversify your product and/or service offerings!
3. Create add-ons for your current customers. Just like McDonald’s did when we were kids! “Would you like a hot apple pie with that?” Think about what aligns naturally with what you are currently offering, and simply have it available. No need for a hard sale when you come from it sincerely.
4. Create a digital product. Of course in our 24-7 online world, it makes sense to expand your storefront digitally, right? Well, what happens to those folks who visit your website in the middle of the night? When you turn your knowledge into an eBook, white paper or checklist, then add it behind a form on your website, you’re not only showing how knowledgeable you are about your industry, you are capturing leads. This is your lead funnel hard at work.
5. Get back to the basics. Show up. Return calls. Have the best service in town. It’s so easy to forget what REALLY makes a small business stand out, and that’s great service. Want some ideas on how to put a customer-centric service plan in place? Check out how Zappos did it.
6. Ask for the order. It’s a simple thing to do, but many folks stop short and that hurts the bottom line. Don’t be afraid to ask for the order, “So, can we set you up with that today?” If your prospect is not that far down your sales funnel, simply ask for the next step. “May I follow up with you about this next week?” – don’t be afraid to progress the sale.
7. Get publicity. PR isn’t what it used to be, but there is value in amplifying your news through influencers. Every milestone (award won, class taught, project finished) is press-worthy. Start by posting your news on your blog, then reach out to local sources. But, try not to mass email; if you want coverage, send a short personal e-mail to media outlets explaining the uniqueness of your news and why their readers would be interested.
8. Host a charity event. Events can form an important aspect of an organization’s fundraising program. Your charity event could potentially garner your company some great press, help you get in front of other like-minded people and help increase awareness… plus, it’s just a good thing to do.
9. Sponsor a school sports team. Those kids have parents who have purchasing power. Make a great impression when you sponsor.
10. Teach a class. Perhaps on the topic of your eBook? Local organizations such as the Small Business Development Center, the Chamber and others are always looking for local experts to present. Showcase your knowledge!
11. Under promise, over deliver. It’ll keep them coming back for more over and over again, and they’ll be more likely to tell their friends!