Marketing is one of the most important processes of any Business.  One of the most common questions I get asked is what marketing activities pack the most punch when there are so many to choose from?  If you’ve been asking yourself that same question, then you’re in luck.  I’ve pulled my most popular tips for small business owners right here :

1. Get on Your Soapbox
A solid brand position is rooted in a passionate commitment to the customer.  What do you believe about your industry, product or service?  What possibilities are you creating for your customer?  What’s your customer’s burning issue and in what ways does your company solve it?  Get on your soapbox, speak and write passionately about it and your ideal customer will be drawn to the message.

2.  Don’t Advertise Like a Big Business
Big businesses advertise to create name recognition and future sales. A small business can’t afford to do that. Instead, design your advertising to produce sales …now. One way to accomplish this is to always include an offer in your advertising – and an easy way for prospective customers to respond to it.

Digital Marketing – Ultimate guidebook

4. Update Your Site and Start a blog
If it’s been more than three years since you’ve updated your site – it’s time to take a fresh look.  Have you started a blog?  These days, websites and blogs are almost interchangeable.  They can be hosted for free and often come with free high-end design templates that only require you to write content.  Look at your website and blog as free or low-cost advertising to your prospects and customers.  Use the blog to tell them about the latest new products or services.  Have you solved a customer or technical problem – share your experience on the blog?   Customers will love the extra information.  Prospects will have reasons to choose you.

5. Do Videos
If you have a product or service that shines in demo mode, then videos are an ideal and cost-effective marketing tool for you. Open a corporate YouTube account and upload demos and live presentations for your prospects to find and customers to access.

6. Build and Combine Lists
You probably have some kind of customer list (or three) lying around.  This is the year to combine these names into a single customer list.  Start with a basic spreadsheet and then start grouping your customers into segments or categories.  Now do the same with your prospects.  Having one, an updated master list will make communicating with customers fast and easy.

7. Market Directly
Why spend thousands of dollars on advertising that you can’t control?  If you know where your customers live, you can reach out to them personally and directly.  You’ll find your marketing spending power double or triple by simply diverting your advertising dollars to direct marketing.

8. Create a social media policy
Social media is not a fad anymore.  It’s time to stop experimenting and start managing your social media strategy.  Create a policy around social media, even if you’re only a one-person operation.  Your social media policy should include your objectives for each site and any rules you have around posts, articles, pictures, etc.  Creating this policy will eliminate employee confusion, problems and PR and potential digital reputation management nightmares.

9. Offer a Cheaper Version
Some prospective customers are not willing to pay the asking price for your product or service. Others are more interested in paying a low price than in getting the best quality. You can avoid losing sales to many of these customers by offering a smaller or stripped down version of your product or service at a lower price.

10. Offer a Premium Version
Not all customers are looking for a cheap price. Many are willing to pay a higher price to get a premium product or service. You can boost your average size sale and your total revenue by offering a more comprehensive product or service by combining several products or services in a special premium package offer for a higher price.

11. Productize Your Services
It’s much easier to understand and purchase something that looks like a product.  Notice that even software downloads or e-books actually look like a tangible product so that people can have a sense of what they are purchasing.  Turn your service into a product by giving it a name, describing your process as a specification and then charging a flat rate instead of by the hour.  You’ll find that it’s easier to sell, easier to buy and more profitable for your business.

12. Trim Your Ads
Reduce the size of your ads so you can run more ads for the same cost. You may even be surprised to find that some of your short ads generate a better response than their longer versions.

13. Mobile Marketing
Globally twice as many people use text messaging than e-mail.  Chances are your customers interact more with their PDA than they do with their computer.  Mobile Marketing Programs allow your customer to opt-in and request certain kinds of messages and updates from you.  If you’re a restaurant, use mobile marketing to update customers on specials.  Mobile marketing is currently a wide open space. Use it to market to hard-to-reach customers.

14.  Set up Joint Promotions with Other Small Businesses
Contact some non-competing small businesses serving customers in your market. Offer to publicize their products or services to your customers in exchange for their publicizing your services to their customers. This usually produces a large number of sales for a very low cost.

15.  Try Some Unusual Marketing Methods
Look for some unconventional marketing methods your competitors are overlooking. You may discover some highly profitable ways to generate sales and avoid competition. For example, print your best small ad on a postcard and mail it to prospects in your targeted market. A small ad on a postcard can drive a high volume of traffic to your website or generate a flood of sales leads for a very small cost.

16.  Referral system
Stop treating referrals like a happy accident.  Run a referral program that includes regular meetings with people who agree to enthusiastically refer you.  Start by creating a referral guideline that outlines what sets your business apart, profiles your ideal customer and describes what they might say that should trigger a referral to you.  Put your focus on attracting “Centers of  Influence” and “trusted advisors” who will refer you to their clients and customers.  It’s like having a free salesforce!

17. Focus on Ideal Customers
Decide to only work with profitable customers.  Identify customers who are happy with what you offer and refer you.  Profile them in detail; what’s important to them, what are their 7 biggest frustrations?  Outline in what ways your company gives them what’s important and eases their frustrations.  Now go get more customers just like that.

18. Take Advantage of Your Customers
Your customers already know and trust you. It’s easier to get more business from them than to get any business from somebody who never bought from you. Take advantage of this by creating some special deals just for your existing customers …and announce new products and services to them before you announce them to the general market.

Also, convert your customers into publicity agents for your business. Develop an incentive for them to tell associates and friends about the value of your products or services. An endorsement from them is more effective than any amount of advertising – and it is much cheaper.

Each of these marketing tips provides a simple, low-cost way for any small business to find customers and generate sales quickly.

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