Monday, October 14, 2013

7 Ways to Give your Small Business Marketing Plan a Competitive Edge

As a small business owner, you need to get used to the idea of self promotion. Whether you're using social media, direct mail marketing, print ads or all of the above, you must take every opportunity you can to tell potential customers about how your business can benefit them.

Of course, there's some fierce competition out there. So how can you give yourself a competitive marketing edge? What can your small business do to make sure that potential customers come to you instead of one of your competitors? These 7 tips below will help you in developing a marketing strategy for your small business:

  1. Start with Specific Goals: Obviously the goal of your marketing will be to earn new business, but you'll need to set specific, achievable goals in order to create a tactical plan and measure your results. Let's say the goal is you want to increase the average value of your customer's orders by 25%. Once you have that in mind, you can then work backwards and figure out how this will be achieved.
  2. Combine Your Marketing Efforts: You've got your goal  of raising average order value mind, now let's think of a tactic. Let's say you decide to offer a Buy One Get One Half off deal. Now how will you help spread the word? Rather than viewing your direct mail marketing, social media and Email marketing as separate entities, each medium should be working in tandem to help spread the word. Some people might ignore the email, but are more likely to respond to your direct mail piece.
  3. ...But Don't Use Everything: While generally I would recommend using a variety of tactics to help spread the word about your offer, trying everything will spread your resources to thin and will ultimately hurt your message. Remember, you don't need to be on every single social network. And you may not need to send out a direct mail piece. Do some research and figure out which medium is most appealing to your audience.
  4. Have a Clear Call to Action: You've got your goal and your tactics- Now ask yourself this question: "When they receive my direct mail/email/Twiter message, what do I want them to do?". If the answer is visit this URL and get the coupon code, then create a compelling call to action that will drive them to that URL. One great way to create a call to action is to add an expiration date to the offer (i.e. Offer ends Tuesday! Get your coupon code Now!).
  5. Create a Consistent Look: Your email, blog, website, direct mail piece etc. should all have the same consistent look. This will help create brand awareness, making it more likely that your customers will remember your business. For instance, If you're sending out a few hundred printed 6 x 9 envelopes featuring your redeisgned logo, you nee to make sure that the same logo appears on all of your other marketing pieces.
  6. Always Follow Up: After your direct mail piece or email goes out, your work has only just started! Many people who received the direct mail piece may be interested in your offer, but perhaps didn't have much time for it at the moment, that's where a brief phone call, email or even another direct mail piece can help you close the deal.
  7. Test & Refine: While statistics are helpful, the only way to know for sure if your offer will be something compelling to your customers is to test it. This can be done by sending out the offer to only a portion of your list, then adjusting your offer accordingly or through split testing (meaning sending 2 versions of an email or direct mail piece and seeing which gets better results).

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