In this day and age, it seems most small businesses have the same marketing strategy. Having just come out of a recession, not many businesses take risks anymore because everyone is afraid of losing money. It makes sense to lay low and do what works.
But what happens when “what works” doesn’t actually work anymore? Is your business still bringing in new money or are you staying afloat with repeat and loyal customers? Are you doing better this year than you have done in previous years? If the goal for your small business is to focus on growth and profitability, instead of simply maintaining the status quo, consider rethinking the way you market.
These questions may have just triggered your motivation to find a better marketing solution. If you’re a smaller business and your marketing team consists of you and maybe a family friend who is helping with advice, this task can seem daunting. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, start small. Try typing “marketing plan” into Google. The Internet is full of ideas and lots of smart people sharing what they know. Make notes of the ideas you haven’t yet tried and make a “to do” list. Even if you have no idea how you’ll implement these ideas or how they’ll help your business, reach outside your comfort zone and start thinking about these alternatives.
Many marketing analysts will tell you that implementing a new marketing plan will take time. And although that’s true in most cases, new marketing initiatives require money, too. If your small business is on a tight budget, experiment with some quick, low-cost alternatives designed to test several ideas and discover what works for your business and your customers. As you experiment, make note of your successes and failures so you can use that input to drive future strategies. Some of these quick marketing tactics could include:
We’re so focused on digital marketing that we may neglect other traditional practices, like direct mail. While it may not seem like a viable option, direct mail is alive and kicking. Try sending a coupon or advertisement to your existing customers, plus a warm list of potential new customers. If you get a good response (i.e. customers coming in with your postcards to shop) then keep it up. Mail them again every few months. If you get no response, you are out postage and minimal materials. Never look back.
Pay attention to what your competitors are doing and use similar versions of their tactics to connect with and engage your audience. Are you seeing any changes? If so, keep that particular idea in mind when you need to jumpstart your marketing efforts. It’s not wise to blatantly copy all of your competitor’s tactics, especially since you’re trying to make your company stand out from the competition. However, examining strategies and tactics used by others may help you break out of a rut and consider a new approach.
Make a Bold Promise
Introduce a bold (yet true) guarantee or use confident terms like “best,” “most,” or “above all” in your marketing messaging. Sometimes just having that extra confidence in your business will invite others in and encourage them to see what you have to offer.
The idea of experimenting with some new marketing initiatives is to push you outside your comfort zone. If you try something that you never thought would work but, in fact it does, this boost can do wonders for your business. As a business owner, you have to trust your gut, but sometimes you also have to take a few chances to get ahead. Go out and race yourself to find that great new addition to your marketing strategy. Don’t overthink it. Don’t get caught up in what can go wrong. If it doesn’t work, move on.
Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.