It’s no secret that big businesses put a lot of money into marketing. Of course, a lot of time and expense goes into creating adverts for television, for online channels, not to mention real world marketing techniques such as field marketing, which can be used to reach customers on a personal level through face-to-face interactions. When it comes to small businesses though, there has been a focus in recent years on online marketing, be that SEO or PPC/Adwords. However ‘real-world’ tactics shouldn’t be forgotten, as using Strategic online AND offline marketing can give an excellent ROI for SME’s. An important part of that last sentence is the word ‘strategic’ – With either medium, online or offline, diving in and running blind without a strategy won’t likely result in a good outcome, may give poor results, and your efforts could even end up costing your business more money than they generate.
A marketing strategy doesn’t have to be complicated however; it can be as simple as a list of techniques you plan on using, a calendar stating what you will do, on what day, how long it will take, and details on how to measure the outcome.
Even this basic information will enable you to, at a glance, know what you should be doing, help keep you focused, and ensure that you don’t go off on several tangents, never quite completing any tactic.
So with that in mind, let’s investigate some key strategies that could be used by small businesses.
Let people try your product
This one is as old as time but it you’d be surprised by how much it works. Got a great product or service you want people to buy? Give them a taste! It can often be hard to convince people to stop using their regular product and take a chance on yours instead but product testing can really help sell your product or service. Giving people a free taste or demonstration of your product, or even a free trial of your service is not only going to get more people to notice your business but will also generate a lot of goodwill towards your company. Sure, some people will sample your product or service and never come back but a large proportion may feel more confident in your brand and return as paying customers.
Use traditional marketing materials, like flyers and brochures, to let the words out about your free trial. Consider to partner with reputable online printing company like Printmeit.com for a cost-effective printing solution.
Create customer loyalty
These days most high street stores have some sort of customer loyalty system and your business should have one too. Offer a discount or even a freebie to a customer after every 5th purchase, or something similar, to encourage customers to come back and spend again.
Another idea here is to offer free vouchers that match your average demographic… do lots of your customers or client have an interest in the theatre? Reward them by tickets to a show after they spend £’x’ with you, or how about vouchers for a meal for two?
This can result in some great social shares too, if your customers are active on Twitter or Facebook.
Send out a newsletter
Did you know it can cost six times more to make a sale to a new customer than to an existing one? Send a traditional newsletter through the letterboxes of your existing customers or clients with news and offers to tempt them back. It doesn’t have to be fancy – or even regular – just a little something to keep you in the minds of former customers so your business is the first one they think of when they want to spend again. While an old-fashioned paper newsletter is harder for customers to ignore, an email newsletter is almost as good if you want to keep costs down.
Get involved with the community
Big businesses often sponsor events or charities as a way of spreading brand awareness and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t do the same. Of course, you’re probably not big enough to sponsor the next Olympics so keep it local. Maybe there’s a local sports club you could team up with or a community event you could sponsor? Forming partnerships like this not only helps spread brand awareness but can open up unique, local, possibilities for your business.
Although not essential, if the event or project you sponsor is aligned with the industry your company works in, even better!
Use social media
A strong online presence can really help boost your company. Ensure that your website is user-friendly and set up company accounts on Facebook and Twitter. Update these accounts regularly to build an online community, attracting new customers and keeping existing ones in the loop.
Social media can work well with some of the other tactics mentioned above, which is why planning your campaign well and having a calendar can maximize the payback on your efforts. For example;
Giving free samples away? – Collect the Twitter or Facebook ID’s of those receiving your products/service, and schedule in your calendar to message them via the social networks, asking for their feedback – be sure to mention your brand name in your Tweet.
Using the loyalty idea? If you do send vouchers for a trip to the theatre, or a meal for two (or anything else that matches your demographic!), then be sure to pop a note in the envelope, asking your customers to Tweet you letting you know if they enjoyed the evening – Better still, @tweet them the next day asking them, ensuring you mention your brand in the Tweet.
As well as being used to promote your business, social media can also be a good way to offer customer support, monitor brand mentions (be sure to try to turn any complaints into praise, by offering excellent support)
Keep your branding consistent
No matter what tactics you try, consistency is crucial. Your store, website, newsletters and social media should be all recognizable as the same business. Important news should be posted to all formats and any deals or offers you run (in store, vouchers, email etc) should be checked to make sure they match each other. Brand consistency reinforces your image in the public’s mind and helps avoid the sort of unwanted confusion that could lead customers to take their business somewhere they feel is more straightforward.
Marketing techniques like these might be used by big businesses but with a little thought, they can also be an affordable, and effective, way to ensure your small business can thrive.
About the author: This article was written by industry professional Mike Gracia on behalf of Cosine, an award-winning UK based field marketing agency. Cosine are always looking for great people to help drive sales for their clients. If you think a career in field marketing could be for you, be sure to visit www.cosineuk.com/join-us/.