Once you’ve established your small business goals and are ready to open your doors, you will need to begin the arduous process of promotion. Marketing is the obvious term used for getting the word out about your business. Ideally, whatever tools you use should give a clear picture of who you are, what you are good at, and where you can be found.
You don’t have to focus on being found geographically as much as you need to focus on being found online. When customers are looking for assistance, in most cases, they will search online first. They’ll need to find your contact information or your physical address if you are to make any sales.
Once you’re online you are accessible the world over. Think “global market” when designing your website. In many cases, even if you choose to only ship to, or serve local customers, outsiders may look for a way to get your products or may even want your involvement with their project in some way. Give them good website content and easy navigability so that they’ll like what they see and want to take the next step with your business.
Marketing approaches are multi-faceted and there are as many methods as there are ideas. You can market through print ads, billboards, a website, and a Facebook page. You can hire young people and dress them in monkey suits to draw people in. You can stitch your logo onto clothing, offer giveaways and coupons, partner with others, and host special events. The list is endless. The key is to be creative in getting your message out in as many ways as possible without compromising your message and image.
Create a Personality
Speaking of image, it is important to keep your image consistent. If you’re not internet savvy it may pay to hire a designer to create digital logos and build your website for you. Assign your business or services a “personality” with the use of colour, fonts, and specific language. Then ensure all your marketing materials fit your chosen personality.
Define Your Market and Products
A bit of market research will tell you who wants or needs your products or services. Find out why they want them, what they’ll do with them, and whom they’ll recommend them to.
Listen to your market. You can be a silent listener by capturing keyword search results, observing social media discussions and reading reviews. You can be an active listener by offering and analyzing surveys, asking walk-in customers how you can help them, and asking customers for follow-up feedback.
Narrowing your niche may mean saying no to many great ideas. If you diversify, make sure what you combine is complementary and that it makes sense to combine them. If you own a sub shop, for instance, why would you also sell flowers? It makes little sense.
Even combined ideas that make sense can become detractions. If a lot of time and money is spent on, say, custom orders that require special products to be ordered in or special designs to be created, it may actually not be in your best interest to offer them. If you add low-priced all day breakfast specials to your restaurant menu, don’t be surprised when the higher priced meals aren’t selling because everyone wants the two-eggs and toast special for 2.99.
Stay tuned for the second part in our series on business promotion which will be published next week.