Too many small-business owners think marketing is like a trip to the doctors — something you have to do when something’s not going quite right.
But marketing is not the remedy, but the solution in the first place. When marketing is continuous and targeted rather than occasional and generic, business gets easier. If your reputation is positive, then much of your marketing will take care of itself.
Here are six ideas for helping small businesses — on the cheap.
1. Take steps to make customers feel special. Customers respond to being recognised. Even if you are a web-based company, customer service is very possible. Send a ‘Thank You’ note, or offer something when sending products. Customers who feel special will come back.
2. Create business cards that prospects keep. Most business cards are tossed within hours of a meeting. Be innovative and creative. Supply a pen or a notepad with your details. Be resourceful.
3. Develop an electronic mailing list and send old-fashioned letters. Revert to old methods to become new? No, we’re not mad. Most businesses have harnessed the power of e-newsletters — and you definitely should be sending out one, too. It's very cost-effective. But because e-mail marketing is now nearly ubiquitous, you can quickly stand out by occasionally sending personal, surface mail letters to customers and prospects. The process is simplified by creating a letter template and envelope or customer label mailing list in Microsoft Office Word in Office 2010, which you can print out. The mailing list is easily created in Excel and then imported into Word.
4. Boost your profile at trade shows and conferences. You can quickly create signage, glossy postcards with your contact information, product news inserts or an event mini Web site — all with Microsoft Office Publisher. Check out its versatile features.
5. Become an online expert. A previous blog ‘How to become an online influencer’ sums this one up rather nicely. By working hard at it, it will show great rewards. Finding those in your industry, and how to react to them is key. Find these people out and interact with them and let them do your marketing.
6. Finally, don't let customers simply slip away. Make an effort to reel them back in – manage them efficiently. Make sure you do not lose contact with a customer. Build a database, send them a personalised email and inquire whether all is well. Customer Relationship Management tools can help with this process. It costs a lot less to retain a disgruntled or inactive customer than to acquire a new one.
Posted by Steven Woodgate
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Some good basic ideas here. Marketing should definitely be an ongoing process and investment - whether in time or money. There are so many online tools available for small businesses that are low-cost and easy to use for your marketing and/or productivity efforts.