A new year is just around the corner and is the perfect time to consider what happens next? What do I want to achieve and what will things look like this time next year?
For those who have not yet taken the plunge 2020 could mark the start of a new business venture or will it be the year that you take your existing business to the next level? Either way, successful marketing will be the key to your success. Part art, part science, marketing is simply the process of creating and retaining profitable customers. Yet with so much jargon, and so many options when it comes to getting your message out there, we thought it timely to share our top five simple marketing tips to successfully market your small business or start-up.
1. Know what success looks like
Whether your business is established or new, make sure you set yourself some objectives at the outset. It’s great being your own boss, but that can also make it difficult to be accountable. Without clearly defined objectives, it can be difficult in hindsight, to assess which elements of your marketing strategy worked and which were less successful. Set yourself 4 or 5, making sure they are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed) and you will have something solid to work towards, and measure retrospectively.
2. Keep customer-focused
Who is your target audience? Whether you are operating business to business or direct to consumer model, build a profile or avatar of what your ideal client looks like, both demographically and attitudinally. Are they restricted geographically, by age or life-stage? What are their interests and priorities, where and how do they socialise and which media do they engage with? Once you have a clear picture of your ideal client, you can narrow down how to best communicate with them, in terms of language and tone of voice, as well as which channels to employ and how often.
3. Be clear on what makes you different
It’s often easier to refine your own brand proposition if you consider yourself compared to your nearest competitors. Why should your target audience buy from you rather than them? What specific problems does your product or service solve, that others don’t or can’t. Having defined your USP (unique selling proposition), you can begin to further develop your brand identity – its personality – and imagery, including a logo if your business is new.
4. Choose your channels (or media)
A website is a fundamental for any business today – it’s the shop window that showcases your products and services. Visiting your website is a critical part of the customer journey that ends in them becoming a loyal client and how it looks and functions plays a key role in building trust with your target audience. Conversely, it can also be the point at which potential customers are put off, and decide that a competitor better meets their needs. A website must be secure, load quickly from all mobile devices, be easily navigable and provide the right information in a logical format that is pleasing to the eye.
To rank as highly as possible on Google, you need to ensure the site is correctly coded and labelled (site optimisation). Google will demote any site that isn’t secure or where visitors vote with their feet and soon leave in favour of another supplier. Conversely it will promote sites where the content is organised logically around the key search terms that visitors are looking for, and sites where content is regularly refreshed and updated. A regular blog, vlog or podcast containing updates on topics relevant to your target audience will also help with rankings, as will any professional or listings websites that contain a link to your website.
Engagement with the right social media channels – the ones favoured by your target client – will also help drive traffic to your website and push it up the Google ranking, but remember to think of social media channels as more of a dinner party conversation than a one-way broadcast.
Email marketing is also a key channel to help you to connect with your ideal client. It could be argued that this is valid for all businesses, regardless of size, of course how this is implemented eg: frequency and content, will vary hugely.
It can be challenging to come up with ideas for new posts and updates, particularly when you are busy, which is why it is important to have a content plan. By planning in advance you will ensure that all of your channels work together in a coordinated fashion.
5. Asking for feedback
Customer referrals are often one of the best way to gain new clients, your customers being an advocate of what you do and recommending you is really powerful. We explored this in full in one of our recent blog articles “Why client testimonials & reviews help to build trust.” but it is really clear that if you have an endorsement from a friend or colleague this will go along way. I had a similar experience recently, I need to have a will written and I asked a friend who she used. I ended up going with her recommendation, with the knowledge that she had used them and had a good experience so they must be OK.
There are many tools out there in today’s digital world to facilitate us in connecting with our ideal client, it is being selective on where you focus your energies which will vary by business. If you would like some help in understanding where you should be focusing your marketing for 2020 please do get in touch to arrange your initial consultation.