Advertising is an expensive sounding word, and for good reason. But it need not be. If you own or manage a small business, here are some advertising and marketing tips that will fit your budget.
- The first and most important small business advertising tip is to be “web-centric” in all your marketing and advertising.
This means that your website is the hub of your marketing plan, and the purpose of almost every other form of marketing is to drive people to your website. If you do an ad in the paper, the focus point is your web address; if you do a billboard or radio spot, the whole purpose is to get people to go to your website.
The reason this is the most cost effective strategy is because changing the content on your website is very fast and inexpensive, while changing printed materials is time consuming and costly. By making the purpose of all your other marketing and advertising simply to get people to your website, those other printed materials never go out of date, since your web address is yours as long as you want.
- Make the focus of your website the collection of contact information.
Many small businesses think that the point of their website is the get people to buy right now. Those who are involved in internet marketing know otherwise: the purpose of a website is to gather names and email addresses and phone numbers, with permission to contact the prospect. This way, whether or not they ever come back to your website, you can contact them and sell to them again and again, giving them special deals to entice them to order online or come into your physical store.
How do you get people to offer up their contact info? By giving them something of value in exchange for it. If you own a home renovations company, develop a top ten list of things people can do to increase the value of their home- with at least five of them being things that you offer! If you are a retail outlet, you may want to offer a coupon for 10% or more off their next in store purchase. Do what it takes to get the contact info of your web visitors. Doing so greatly increases the likelihood that they will become customers some day.
- Follow up rigorously.
One area most small businesses fall short in is following up on leads or contacts. That is simply leaving money on the table- money that is rightfully yours! And, since your competitors are likely not doing a very good job of follow up, excellence in this area will set you apart from them, and endear you to your prospects.
When someone enters contact info on a web form, have an immediate mailing to them. Develop a well thought out autoresponder series to keep in touch with them for several weeks or months, depending on the nature of your business. And, if you have their phone number, phone them with a special offer of some kind. Make them glad they left their contact information. If someone asks a question, especially online, make it a priority to get the answer to them as soon as possible. Again, your care of their concerns will set you apart from your competitors and gain you clients.